Alice LeGrande Diary February 1937
Alice LeGrande’s month was a mix of snow, dust and daily chores. February 1937 saw a death and a birth in the community, and valentine chocolates.
As we would expect in a personal journal, Alice’s diary is focused on immediate, local events that touched her life directly. We know she listened to the radio, so it is likely that she was aware of some of the more significant world events that were going on at the time. But it would have been impossible for her (or most young Americans) to comprehend how the events occurring thousands of miles away would eventually have a very direct impact on the lives of their friends and families.
As Alice went about her chores on the farm in Oklahoma, the world continued its steady but relentless spiral into world conflict. In Spain the civil war saw losses on both sides. In Ethiopia, Mussolini ruthlessly stamped his authority on the newly established Italian colony whilst its leader was in Exile in England. Germany and Britain danced around the politics of the growing influence of the Nazis.
In the US Amelia Earhart announced that she would circumnavigate the globe.
Monday, Feb 1 1937
‘Wrote a letter to Lorne, carried straw to a shed and very sunshiny day.’
Tuesday, Feb 2 1937
‘Sent an order. Very little. Did the ground hog see his shadow. Washed our washing and Edna’s. Edna and Clarence came and Daddy went. Trade day.’
Wednesday, Feb 3 1937
‘Today was Wednesday and pretty in the afternoon. Sold 5 gallons gas. Mary and Jean came down and listened to radio.’
In Spain the Battle of Málaga began. This was a key battle in the Spanish civil war. Franco’s Nationalists were moving along the Mediterranean bringing with them Italian troops and German equipment. Thousands of civilians died either during their escape from the city or were executed as the Fascists moved in.
Thursday, Feb 4 1937
‘Today was sunshining and an awful pretty day. Washed, ironed and mopped for Mrs McEwen. Dressed chicken to sell.’
Friday, Feb 5 1937
‘Today was Friday and wasn’t very pretty. Helped with housework.’
Saturday, Feb 6 1937
‘Edna birthday, she was 20 years. Cold and windy. Saturday and mamma went up to Edna. Washed dishes, cleaned house, mopped two floors and met the mail carrier.’
In Spain the Battle of Jarama began. The battle of Jarama was an attempt by Franco’s Nationalists to capture the Madrid-Valencia road after they had failed to capture Madrid in a previous action. The battle was to end in relative stale mate with heavy losses on each side. It is notable that there were both British and American Brigades fighting on the Republican side against the fascists.
Sunday, Feb 7 1937
‘Sunday. Taken care of all the work because Mamma was up at Edna’s. Lorne came down. Clarine La Nell was born. Weighed 7.5 lbs’
So far I haven’t found any record for a Clarine La Nell. I hoped that there would be something in the Logan County history, or on Ancestry.com but nothing so far.
Monday, Feb 8 1937
‘Did the work while Mamma and Daddy went to town with Clarence to see Edna at the hospital. Sunshining.’
The Battle of Málaga ended in a decisive Nationalist victory with the capture of the city. The Málaga–Almería road massacre ensued.
Tuesday, Feb 9 1937
‘Sunshining. Mamma went to club and Clarence went to see Edna. Dusted chickens for lice.’
Wednesday, Feb 10 1937
‘Sunshining and cold. Went to the 4-H Club today and Mr Ives and Miss Graham was there up at walked and rode up to house with Clarence.’
A German appeals court ruled that children who failed to live up to the mental and physical standards of Nazi education could be taken away from their families and placed in state-run homes.
Thursday, Feb 11 1937
‘Windy day. Washed ours and Edna’s washing. Went up Clarence’s to do this work and Edna came home. Ironed and dressed 8 chickens. Went bed at 1:00’
In Michigan, the Flint sit-down strike ended when General Motors agreed to recognize the United Auto Workers. This was a major break through for workers rights.
Aviator Amelia Earhart announced her upcoming attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Friday, Feb 12 1937
‘Lincoln’s birthday. Mail came. Taken care of clocks and sold $2.37. Windy day.’
Elsewhere in Oklahoma Charles Dumas, Olympic high jumper, was born in Tulsa
Saturday, Feb 13 1937
‘Help get dinner and waited on people in the store. Windy day. Weighed beans, sugar and meal.’
Sunday, Feb 14 1937
‘Windy day. Went to Sunday School and didn’t have it because Crystal and us were the only ones there. Sold things and Lorne came over. He brought me a large valentine full of chocolates.’
Monday, Feb 15 1937
‘Taken care of work, worked in store, churned, got dinner and awful day. Washed some and air is red with dust.’
The effects of the dust bowl era came and went through Oklahoma during the 1930’s. Alice mentions several days in her diary between 1937-1940 when the ‘red dust’ affected her day.
Tuesday, Feb 16 1937
‘Cloudy. Miss McNews birthday and she was 25 and she was sick. Did all the work. Brownie left.’
Wednesday, Feb 17 1937
‘Dusty. Armstrong’s party. Mr McEwen birthday. Aunt Katy, grandmother and uncle Roy came. Cooked a 4.5 lb jack rabbit and baked cake. I went up at Armstrong’s at night.’
Thursday, Feb 18 1937
‘Got dinner, churned, waited on people and mixed up light bread. Cloudy and windy. Dressed 6 hens’
Friday, Feb 19 1937
‘Didn’t go to Armstrong’s sale. Grandaddy came. Got dinner and took care of the work. Dusty day.’
Ethiopians attempted to assassinate Italian Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani in a grenade attack. Graziani survive but Mussolini went on to order the massacre 30,000 Ethiopians in reprisal killings over the next three days. Mussolini had taken Ethiopia as a colony. Jealous of other colonial nations he was expanding the Italian empire and saw a chance to revenge defeats during the first Italo-Abyssinian war in 1895.
Saturday, Feb 20 1937
‘Clarence [Forunt?] plowed. Misty and rainy day. Got dinner for the plowers. Washed some and mopped. Snowed in the evening.’
In Berlin, Hitler opened an auto show featuring three test models of the iconic Volkswagen.
Sunday, Feb 21 1937
‘Elsie’s birthday and she was 27. Raymond married Le Deen Henry. Pretty day. This was Sunday and Mr and Mrs Stewart came in Ireta’s car. Lorne was working on his car. Mamma stayed with Edna.’
France closes its border with Spain to keep foreign fighters and weapons out of the Civil War and the Italians capture Desta Damtew, the leader of the Ethiopian resistance. Desta is executed later in the month.
Monday, Feb 22 1937
‘Taken care of housework, got dinner, sorted out potatoes and pretty day.’
Mussolini decreed that any native chieftain or officer who opposed Italian colonial troops, even in territory as yet unoccupied, would be put to death.
Tuesday, Feb 23 1937
‘Worked in the house, cooked for Clarence [Forunt?] while he plowed. Pretty day.’
Italy protested to Britain for inviting Haile Selassie to send an envoy to the king’s coronation ceremony. Haile Selassie was the Emporer of Ethiopia but was currently in exile in England.
Wednesday, Feb 24 1937
‘Sunshine. Washed our washing and Edna’s. Sold 1 gallon gas. Gave Martin a whippen or nine licks.’
Martin was Charles Martin LeGrande, Alice’s younger brother. Alice was 8 years older than him.
Thursday, Feb 25 1937
‘Cloudy and cold. Went up to see Edna’s baby. Ironed, helped get dinner, washed dishes and held Clarine. Dressed chickens.’
Friday, Feb 26 1937
‘Dried dishes, made beds and Clarence [Fruent?] went home. Snowed.’
Saturday, Feb 27 1937
‘Miss Mc New died 10:00, Saturday night. Snowed some. Went up and stayed with Edna while Daddy and Clarence went to town. Washed for Edna. Cloudy and cold.’
The Battle of Jarama ended in a strategic Republican victory and in France the French government passed a new defense plan extending the Maginot Line.
Sunday, Feb 28 1937
‘Sunshining pretty day. Sunday and last day of the month. Cleaned house. Lorne came. Went walking over cross [rose?] creek and went up Edna’s. Made candy.’
Spanish Foreign Minister Julio Álvarez del Vayo scolded the European democracies for “lamentable weakness… in the face of the tactics of Fascist nations to make themselves masters of the continent.” Álvarez del Vayo declared that “the defense of Madrid is the defense of Paris and London tomorrow.”