I found it utterly amazing that she invariably ended up in bed at around 11:30PM or 12 AM every night after a day that was chock full of activities that didn’t include TV, the Internet, movies, organized team sports for girls, or visits to the King of Prussia mall! I’d certainly have thought that kids back then were in bed by 8 o’clock out of sheer boredom!
Mary warmed my heart because she seemed to have been an old-fashioned girl much like another Mary I knew all too well- very studious, musical and creative.
Her time was totally filled with school, studies, music lessons, church activities, tatting, embroidering, painting, drawing, a scrapbook, a stamp collection, crocheting, making a pocketbook for mama, candy for friends and playing rook with her brother Sam when he came home from his college (Cornell?) in Ithaca....
This child was obviously from a somewhat privileged family, since the family’s frequent jaunts to the theatre in Philadelphia and shopping outings to Allentown were unusual in an era where auto trips were likely a luxury. Yet, beyond those hints of a refined lifestyle, there was much within the scope of her daily activities that painted a picture of a child who was not merely cultured and well-educated, but who also had to contribute to household chores that included lawn mowing, flower planting, ironing clothes and baking goodies for the preacher’s new tenants, as well as going with mama to visit the sick and elderly.
This demonstrated to me that a privileged child need not be just an entitled child, as much of today’s affluent kids seem to be.
I also observed that Mary wrote almost nothing about her own feelings, thoughts and opinions. Her entry on Thursday, January 4th, 1917 surprised me:Fair weather today. Went to school. Took my music lesson after school. Mrs. Krug was here for supper. Cousin Helen’s baby suffocated. Spent the evening at home, crocheting and studying. Retired at half past ten.How strange that she didn’t comment about her feelings regarding the death of the baby! Was it because a woman’s thoughts and opinions meant so little in those days? She recorded the ritualistic performance of her daily mundane feminine tasks of sewing, tatting, baking, etc. with a conscientiousness that would be unusual in a twelve-year-old today. Yet she failed to express one iota of sadness or concern about her second cousin’s untimely death! Why???????????
ADDED: Playing rook? Ah!
Rook is a trick-taking game, usually played with a specialized deck of cards. Sometimes referred to as "Christian cards" or "missionary poker," Rook playing cards were introduced sometime in the 20th century....
The Rook deck consists of 57 cards: a blue Rook Bird card, similar to a joker, and 56 cards divided into four suits, or colors. Each suit—black, red, yellow, and green—is made up of cards numbered 1 through 14.
AND: The brief entry about the smothered baby reminds me of this passage in Sarah Vowell's "The Wordy Shipmates" (which, btw, I highly recommend -- especially the audio version):
[John Winthrop's] earliest American journal entries are understandably brief. "Monday we kept a court," reads one. "My son, Henry Winthrop, was drowned at Salem," says another.