[...the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham. References to WWII are in red.]
June 16, Monday
Cloudy, no rain
We cleaned up and washed all the dirty clothes, went to town about 10, to Mrs. Boyett’s too. Got groceries, and visited awhile. We slept too long after we got back, we were all groggy for a long time. I had supper ready when Earl came, and after we had eaten, Mr. and Mrs. Davis and Whitten came in — we played Chinese checkers. Margaret, too. I read “The Body in the Library” to Earl and Jo Anne, and we got to bed early. Letter from Bessie.
June 17, Tuesday
Cloudy, no rain
Davis says we will be here til July 1st. I don’t know whether he knows or not. He says we will all go to Centerville. By July 1, we ought to have $700.00 saved. Oh, I’m so glad we came. No worrying about making ends meet in the time since we’ve been here, and enough saved to pay up the $254.00 we owe Gulf and Sears which will clean up all our debts. Earl is talking of either fixing our car or getting another. I don’t care much which, it looks like a new one is more sensible, but oh I hate to put that much in an automobile! I’ve been reading “Time” all day. We all ate supper together. Margaret had a chicken, and afterward went through Camp Polk.
June 18, Wednesday
Sunny and hot
Margaret went to town today, but we decided not to go. We read, cleaned, etc., and mostly rested in bed. Letter from Velma in which she said Elaine had a wreck. Nobody hurt, but about $200 damage to both cars.
Turkey signed a treaty with Germany today. It seems the British just can’t win anything. We listened to the Louis-Conn fight [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/classic/news/story?id=2442810]. This is a very monotonous sort of life we lead, but if it gets us where we want to go, that’s the important thing. Earl paid Union dues through June.
June 19, Thursday
Sunny and hot in forenoon; Rain in the afternoon
The days pass as a dream that is faintly remembered: Up at 5, fix lunch and breakfast, tell Earl goodbye. Wash the clothes we wore yesterday and the dishes. Read, sew, or crochet and sleep until four; Press the things we rinsed out this morning. Go get shower and have dinner ready when Earl gets in at 5:40. Clean up, and sit outside or play casino until bed time. We can’t go anywhere at night because Earl needs the rest. Letter from Florelle and Jo Anne had one from Julia. I’m enjoying Jo Anne so much, I hate to think about fall and school. Carter and family were here awhile tonight. They aren’t going to move over here, thank Goodness.
June 20, Friday
Sunny and hot, cool shower late
Nothing to even comment on. I wrote to Mamma and Florelle. Earl got his check and cashed it. We had supper and sat around and talked, went to bed early.
June 21, Saturday
Sunny in the morning, rain in the afternoon
I thought I’d get a letter from Mamma, but I didn’t. We went to town, put $80 in the bank, and bought the week’s supply of groceries. Ate dinner up town, went out to Mrs. Boyett’s. Earl wanted to buy shoes, so we all went to town again, sat on the street and watched the soldiers. [For a first-hand account of what it was like for a town during the Louisiana Maneuvers at Camp Polk, read pages 28-31 of this DeQuincy, LA article - http://www.dequincynews.com/images/remember_ratliff.pdf ]
It was nearly eleven when we got home, and the radio was full of the news that Germany has just tackled Russia, news which had just broken. Hitler must either be mad, or have as little respect for Russian fighting ability as I have. This war seems destined to envelope the globe. Germany seems to have Turkey won over, to a bloodless conquest. It is impossible to think through all the intricacies of this new move at once. Japan? U.S. sentiment? Finnish relations?
June 22, Sunday
We got cleaned up, bathed, and Cecil [Earl’s father] and Margaret [Earl’s step-mother] went with us to De Ridder, where we ate dinner and went to see William Powell and Myrna Loy in “Love Crazy.” It was a crazy picture, but amusing.
We went to see the coons and squirrels and Earl and Cecil shot some at a shooting gallery. We came back to the camp, M.L. Davis’ mother had come, so I made coffee for them all. We lay on the cot and watched the stars until the mosquitoes drove us in. The news was only what we heard last night. I wish we could see Mamma and Joe a little while. I hate being separated from them.
June 23, Monday
Sunny and hot
I’ve worked pretty well all day washing and ironing. I’m really tired tonight. Thought we’d hear from Mamma, but didn’t. I thought perhaps Earl and the rest would know where we go from here, but it seems there’s nothing given out yet. We are supposed to go to Columbus, Mississippi, which is quite a long way from home, and aside from that, looks as if it might be an interesting place to spend three or four months. I guess we will know by the end of this week, if not before, just what we will do, and where we will go.
June 24, Tuesday
Same old grind, nothing new at all. Letter from Mamma, and I wrote to the company for potatoes for Joe, and to Aunt Leona. I also wrote Velma. There has been constant news of German successes in Russia, but little new of England’s conditions except that they seem to be taking the initiative at last. Mamma said Carter brought Eula May there and left her again.
June 25, Wednesday
Sunny and hot
Well, Mr. Tucker told Earl he would be terminated Saturday, so I guess we will be going home Monday or Tuesday, since it isn’t likely he will be able to get all his dealings closed with Union, etc. I don’t know how we will get this tent and lumber home, but somehow I guess we can work it out. We don’t know yet how long it will be until we go to work again, but I suppose it will be in Columbus, Mississippi. Had a letter from Florelle, wanting us to come over there, but with everything so uncertain, I don’t suppose we will go. I hope Tucker tells Earl something definite about this new job, and that we won’t lose any time more than it takes to get straight.
June 26, Thursday
Rain in the afternoon
We expected Mrs. Boyett but she didn’t come. Earl told me not to wash anything else since we were going home, Liza could do it, so I had very little to do today. We went to the Union office, Earl paid the man the last 2%, $13.33, so he’d be straight for another job.
June 27, Friday
Rain in the morning
Letter from Florelle wanting us to come out there. It’s been hot today in spite of so much rain. I finished Kidd’s buffet set and crocheted on the new pattern Mamma had. Earl and Cecil came in around four for coffee, left again, though, they were just passing by. I don’t know yet what we’re going to do about moving. And the certainty of work on another job is not too sure.
June 28, Saturday
Shower in the afternoon
Margaret, Jo Anne and I went to town. I drew out $608.82 and with Earl’s last two checks and what we have on hand, we will have money enough to get home on and $800 cash. Not bad for one week less than four months. Letter from Velma. I wrote Rowland a card about a car. Crocheted some, and showed Margaret how to go by directions. Packed up all our things. Earl got home at six, and we were in Sicily Island at 12:30, after a tire had blown out, and we had a flat extra. The Lord was with us, though, it was right in front of a station. Mama and Joe didn’t even hear us come in.
June 29, Sunday
Our hottest day yet.
This was Sunday, but we worked like Trojans unloading and straightening up everything. Ate dinner at Mamma’s, and Lil and Al spent the afternoon. Earl gave Gravelle a hundred dollars, so that pain is half over, and the $54 on the roof will clear us out completely. Oh, it will be grand to be out of the hole! But I hate that Earl has to pay it out of his wages, it should come out of the shop. Mamma and Daddy came over here a little while, too. Bob died of distemper about two weeks ago. It makes me sick at heart. If we’d had him he’d still be alive.
June 30, Monday
I cleaned up the house. Dr. Gordon came for Earl before he got up, so his idea of taking it easy just won’t work at home. He’s been busy all day long, and didn’t get to work at Mamma’s but very little. We ate dinner at Julia’s, I made out the monthly bills and mailed them. Mr. and Mrs. Davis came by a little while, they had been to Columbus. I hope Earl gets Mamma’s water system in and finished tomorrow. I don’t want him to have to work the whole time he’s off. I haven’t got to read a bit of the two “Times” we’ve got ahead of us.