1941 (May 1 – May 15)

[…the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham.  References to WWII are in red.]

May 1, Thursday

Letter from Jo Anne.  I wrote her, then got cleaned up and went to Mrs. Boyett’s and we crocheted all afternoon, she wanted to copy the pattern I have.  We had supper and Eula May and Carter came.  We all, with Margaret and Cecil, too, went to the camp and scrubbed the tent, fooled around looking a deciding what to do, and finally went in at Dave Clark’s and played dominoes until nine.  Earl had to shave after we got home, so we were late getting to bed.

May 2, Friday

Sunny and warm

We went to town, and in the afternoon I read on the lessons. When Earl came we ate supper and went home. Picked up John and stopped at Kidd’s. She had the rest of the lessons, so I’ll have plenty to do next week. They were all surprised to see us come in. The war news is worse each day that passes. The English are having trouble in Iraq now. [Britain had given Iraq its independence in 1940 with the stipulation that Britain maintain airfields there.  An Iraqi nationalist movement arose to remove all trace of the British.  The German Luftwaffe (air force) was happy to help them in this action.] It is generally predicted that very few more months of peace are left to us.

May 3, Saturday

Cloudy and cool

After breakfast we went home, took Jack with us. Earl helped Joe stretch wire for the butter beans, and then Earl mowed the lawn. I swept the house and got out the things we need to move with. After noon we went to Lil ‘s, got nine gallons of mayhaws, and when we came home, we went to the camp and got Mamma’s folding springs. Mamma baked Earl a cake.

[missing May 4-5]

May 6, Tuesday 

Rain in morning, sunny in the afternoon.

Jo Anne and I cleaned up everything, and got to town at ten o’clock. We took Margaret, Mrs. Boyett, Lora, and Mrs. Martin to town to shop, and got a few odds and ends ourselves, came back and packed everything we left yesterday, and drank coffee with Mrs. Boyett. We came down and tried to put the rest in the tent, but there’s a limit to what can be put in a 10 x 12 space. I was terribly sick with a headache and stomach disturbance, all afternoon, but managed to get supper. Vondell has been over several times today.

May 7, Wednesday 

Sunny and warm

The tent got so hot that we had to get our baths and take the cot outside and stay. I washed all the clothes we had dirty and ironed them, which took practically all afternoon. We listened to Wendell Willkie tonight, urging the government to convoy ships to Britain. It makes war right on our doorsteps and while I have felt it is inevitable for a long time, I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen. I don’t believe England can hold out very much longer. I did two lessons for Kidd, but there are three more I wish I had finished. No mail.

May 8, Thursday 

Sunny and hot.

Jo Anne and I got bathed, dressed and cleaned up, and went to town. I wanted to find something to send Mamma for Mother’s Day, couldn’t find much, so I got her three combs, a small leather coin purse, a box of candy, and put $2 [$30 equivalent today] in the purse so she could get something she wanted. I mailed it, and we went out to Margaret’s, then she and Mrs. Nesom came out here and spent the afternoon. Then after supper we went to Carter’s and got some chairs. Earl got the lumber to fix our tent, expects to do it Saturday. Margaret got the heater to take it home for us. It is a help, gives a little more space in this tent.

May 9, Friday 

Sunny and hot.

We cleaned up and I washed what clothes we had dirty. Then I got up Kidd’s last three lessons. It sounds easy, but it took me all day long. Earl was late getting in, and we heard before he got here that they were going to work tomorrow. I hope so, it will make ninety-one dollars for next week’s pay day, since they’ve worked ten hours every day except Monday. Earl got only $55 for this week’s drawing. But we ought to have enough to live on already drawn, so we should be able to deposit all of it. Jo Anne is finding it hard to find something to do, she reads, jumps rope, and wanders about. She doesn’t have much to read.

May 10, Saturday 

Cloudy and sunny, too

Earl went to work but came home at 9:30. We went to town and got things to fix the tent with, – screen, etc. When we got home, Dave was waiting for Earl to go to work, Mr. Tucker had sent for him. So Jo Anne and I cleaned up, and I started a letter to Minnie Lea. I had a letter from Velma at Mrs. Boyett’s. They are going to Natchez for Mother’s Day, she said Rowland might go on to Sicily Island, but they wouldn’t. When Earl got home he had orders to work tomorrow, too. He worked till ten o’clock raising the tent, and said I’d better try not to get the boards around it, in case it rains again, it will blow under and wet all our things.

May 11, Sunday

Mother’s Day. Sunny and warm.

Earl left and I started carpentering, got the planks around the back and sides, then made two of my shelves. About eleven o’clock, when everything was in an awful mess, who should come in but Mamma, Joe, Kidd and Edward. I was so glad to see them. Joe and Edward finished my job and screened the tent, they brought ham, eggs, butter, and milk, too. I was sorry that Earl didn’t get to see them, and so was he. Carter and Eula May came, and Mr. and Mrs. Nesom. We finally had supper and went to a tacky show but I was tired out, and glad to get in bed. I bet Cecil and John will be sick when they find Earl got to make both Saturday and Sunday, and they could have if they’d been here.

May 12, Monday

Finished Minnie Lea’s letter and one to Velma, washed mine and Jo Anne’s clothes.  Earl came in with a headache, and after we had supper we asked the Davis’s to go to town with us, but he insisted on using his car, so we went in it.  Got groceries and materials for a screen door. Rudolph Hess flew to Scotland Saturday news made public today, nobody seems to know what it means.  [Historians today still do not fully understand why Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess flew solo to Scotland where he was subsequently captured and put in prison for life after the Nuremburg Trials.]  The war news is full of bombings, and England seems to be getting nowhere.  Letter from Mamma, and a notice of rejection from Fortuny for one of my stories to Farm Journal.  Never heard of it.

May 13, Tuesday

Sunny and cool

Jo Anne and I went after a refrigerator, got one for $3.50 [approximately $50 in today’s economy].  We put up the last shelf and got everything straight.  I ordered from Sears some things to send Minnie Lea for her birthday and some material to make curtains for this tent.  I don’t know what Earl will say when he sees it, but it will add to the looks of it and to the livability, because it will shut out all the prying eyes.  I had supper ready, but Earl didn’t feel so well, his cold has him feeling bum.  He weighed 139, I 143 and Jo Anne 60 last night in town.

May 14, Wednesday

Partly cloudy and cool

Jo Anne and I cleaned up and got our bath then slept some.  I read “Time” and fixed supper.  Earl and John cut pieces and staked down the tent.  Cecil, Margaret and Mrs. Boyett came and stayed awhile tonight.  I wrote Mamma.  There is very little to do here.  Jo Ann is restless.

May 15, Thursday

We got another cold shower today and washed our heads.  The days drag so.  I thought of going to town, but decided not to.  Earl was sick with a cold when he got home, so Mr. and Mrs. Davis were going to town and brought us back some Magnesia and nose drops, and I doctored him. He feels terribly badly though.  Dave drank coffee with Earl and John, Carl, and Mr. Davis visited a while before bedtime, and listened to the news, which is anything but cheerful.


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