We called her Aunt Bea, but she was actually my 2nd cousin once removed. We only saw her every few years for family reunions and then she died in 1982, so I never got the chance to know her very well. But one thing I did remember about her was that she was a genealogist. After she died, I heard that her daughter, Jo Anne Denham Thurman had donated some of her research and records to the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge.
Many years later, after becoming a genealogist myself, I went to the Archives to view her collection. Among the family records were several children’s books, and some genealogical records, but what intrigued me the most was the group of photocopied journals from various years in which she had written daily accounts. One of the journals was from the year 1941 — a year that had special meaning to me for a couple of reasons.
One of the reasons it interested me was that it was the year before the United States entered the second world war. That year had to be a trying time for all American citizens as it became evident of the imminent involvement of our country in this worldwide fray. I was anxious to learn how the uncertainty of that time affected Aunt Bea and other citizens like her.
The other reason is that my grandfather died near the end of that year and I knew she would probably have insights into his life and death since they were first cousins and their families visited each other often.
I was not disappointed. Not only did I find answers to both of these questions but I learned so much more about my extended family and about life in that period of history.
I want others to have a chance to experience this era that is written in first person from a lady who was always honest about the way she felt and didn’t mind recording those thoughts and feelings for those who may read her words one day. I appreciate her straightforward manner and her editorializing on the news of the day. I decided to transcribe her 1941 journal, every day of it, and publish it on this blog in two-week segments. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!