Alice LeGrande Diary January 1937
Alice LeGrande Diary January 1937
A World In Turmoil
Alice LeGrande graduated high school in 1936, the same year the Spanish Civil War began. In 1937 she began keeping a diary. The start of 1937 was a turning point for world politics as Europe sank deeper into the mire. Spain entered its second year of civil war whilst Germany used the conflict as a test bed for it’s newly designed weaponry. France and Britain invoked laws aimed at preventing their citizens from participating in the war and Chamberlian met with Hitler, initiating the period of appeasement. China went to war with Japan.
Meanwhile in America an optimistic populous had just re-elected Roosevelt in a landslide election. Isolationist policies kept the country somewhat insulted from the political turmoil of Europe. In Oklahoma the effects of the dust bowl period were still affecting large parts of the state and near the town of Guthrie in Logan County, a young Alice LeGrande was going about her chores, attending school and living a rural Oklahoman life.
A Rural Oklahoma Diary
Alice’s diary documents the daily life of a young woman on a homestead. Common chores are punctuated with interesting imagery such as when ‘the ice popped on ground all night’. In January 1937 Alice was 16 years old and living with her parents (Oscar LeGrande and Eva Burrows) in Springvale. Lorne, her future husband is clearly a big part of her life although she often spells his name wrong (Loren). Edna was Alice’s older sister, Lemuel her older brother and Ireta was Lorne’s sister.
While much of the diary s concerned with local family events there are ocassional glimpses of Alice’s larger universe. There’s the brief note about Roosevelt’s re-election and the reference to the Matteson Kidnapping.
The Mattson kidnapping that Alice refers to occurred on the evening of the 27th December, 1936 in Tacoma, Washington state. The Mattson children were waiting the return of their parents from a social event when a stranger started banging on the door, threatening them and eventually grabbed young Charles Mattson and made his escape. For several weeks there was a massive FBI investigation and mass media coverage as they tried to recover Charles alive. The kidnapper left a ransom note at the house during the abduction but largly due to the massive and sensational media coverage it was difficult for Dr Mattson to negotiate.
On January 11th, the day before Alice mentions it, the body of Charles Mattson was found. The investigation continued for some time but the kidnapper was never found and the case remains open. It says something about the media coverage that Alice picks up on this national story.
Friday, Jan 1, 1937 :
Rainy day. Cleaned house, baked bread, and stayed home while Daddy and Mamma went to town.
Saturday, Jan 2, 1937 :
Saturday. Mopped two floors, ironed and today is a real pretty day. Cold but sun shining.
Sunday, Jan 3 1937 :
Went with Loren to his folks Sunday night to get some tubes for our radio. Cold and sunshine.
Monday, Jan 4 1937 :
Mixed out light bread, washed, churned and did all the chores. Sunshine all day.
Tuesday, Jan 5 1937 :
Today was trades day and I helped with the house work, made pieces and did evening chores. Misty day.
Wednesday, Jan 6 1937 :
Today was misty and cold. Helped with housework, got diner and shot squirrel.
Thursday, Jan 7 1937 :
Did housework, mixed out light bread, took care of chickens and today it snowed. Today was Thursday.
Friday, Jan 8 1937 :
Did housework, wrote a letter, caught chickens, helped with chores and today was cloudy and awful cold. A son was [born?] tonite to Kathryn Pashet
Saturday, Jan 9 1937 :
Helped with housework, took care of chickens and went to town. Snowed, sleeted and awful cold.
Sunday, Jan 10 1937 :
Cleaned house, listened at church music. Sunday afternoon and never saw Lorne. Clear and cold. Mrs McEwen got dog Spot tuesday 1928.
Monday, Jan 11 1937 :
Washed windows mopped floors, help clean out hen house and did all evening chores.
Tuesday, Jan 12 1937 :
We had the club today. Baked a cake, cleaned house, cold. Mattson kidnapped December 27 and found dead Jan 11.
Wednesday, Jan 13 1937 :
Mattson funeral. Washed dishes, fed chickens, swept house and did chores. Cloudy and warmer.
Thursday, Jan 14 1937 :
Washed, mopped, swept floors, made beds, shewed chickens to hen house. Today was partly cloudy and cold. Edna and Clarence came down.
Friday, Jan 15 1937 :
Help with the housework, got a letter, saw the wolf that Uncle Lloyd killed and today was sunny and pretty, mended socks.
Saturday, Jan 16 1937 :
Went to town, left our car at Mrs Kenny’s and walked home. Cloudy and cool.”
Sunday, Jan 17 1937 :
Today was Sunday and Lorne came down in the evening. Misty and cloudy.”
Monday, Jan 18 1937 :
Washed for Mrs McEwen, ironed, mopped and today was pretty.
Tuesday, Jan 19 1937 :
Washed here at home, waited on people in the store, washed dishes and today was a rainy trades day. Roosevelt went into office.
Wednesday, Jan 20 1937 :
Helped with the housework, waited on people, and today was warm and partly cloudy
Thursday, Jan 21 1937 :
Today was Thursday and it snowed last night. Awful cold and sleeted. Took care of chickens, helped in house and Mary came down.
Friday, Jan 22 1937 :
Helped with housework sewed some and it snowed. awful cold.
Saturday, Jan 23 1937 :
Cut ice for cows, made beds, swept floor, dried dishes. Got a letter, washed my head, bathed and cold while the sun shone.
Sunday, Jan 24 1937 :
Stayed home all day and Lorne came down. Muddy after thawing. The ice popped on ground at night.
Monday, Jan 25 1937 :
Did up housework, went up at Edna’s, got dinner, cleaned out hen house and washed dishes. Sunshine and muddy.
Tuesday, Jan 26 1937 :
Made beds, swept floors, washed and part of the day was bad. Killed a road runner.
Wednesday, Jan 27 1937 :
Today was Wednesday. Cleaned house, Daddy and Jean went to town and I killed a crow. Pretty day.
Thursday, Jan 28 1937 :
Sewed. Today was misty and awful bad. Did all the evening chores while Lemuel and Daddy went to town after hay for more cover.
Friday, Jan 29 1937 :
Edna stayed here while Clarence went to town. Got letter from Lorne and washed mud off 10 dozen eggs. Misty day.
Saturday, Jan 30 1937 :
Made beds, swept, mopped two floors, filled [reservoir], Sold 4 gallons gas and killed a crow. Cloudy and cold. Fred Smith 2 gallons.
Sunday, Jan 31 1937 :
Stayed home, wrote a letter to Ireta and Lorne didn’t come down. Misty and raining.