Monday, January 05, 2009

Deep Diary Delving

Yesterday evening, Carole made the mistake of handing me one of my granny's old diaries. This particular one dealt with years 1947 and 1948. Needless to say, the next two hours were spent in total absorption of the day-by-day events of those two years in her life. Here are some revelations I uncovered:

1. During the summer of '48, Granny got her first phone. Needless to say, this changed her life much like computers changed our home lives back in the '90's. She proudly noted that she made numerous calls and received bunches of calls in return.

2. She married her second husband in 1928, a wonderful fellow named Pat Fenn. BTW, my father was the product of her first marriage, having been born in 1915. Pat Fenn was never called by his name in our family; he was always "T". I guess it had something to do with the last letter of his first name. Anyway, I always wondered about how spiritual he was. Since he died when I was but a lad, I never knew much about his church life. But the diary revealed an extremely religious guy. He never missed a church service and was often used as a speaker at "prayer meetings". And, one of the posts, in big letters, reveals that he baptized his mother! I plan to look up "T" when I get to where he is.

3. The Texas City explosion happened during this span and Granny was devastated by the news. She heard about it over the radio and mentioned that the rumblings were felt as far north as Palestine! She was deeply troubled by the hundreds who died and the thousands who were seriously injured.

4. The most startling revelation to me was the use of leisure time back then. Remember, this was prior to television, computers, and air-conditioning. Granny and T spent nearly every evening (and many afternoons) either visiting friends and relatives or hosting those folks in their home. Interaction with others was so important that if two or three days went by without hearing from someone close to her, Granny would start fretting. They assembled in others' houses to sing church hymns, to play "42", or simply talk.

I couldn't help but conclude that we aren't that way anymore. Our toys (laptops, tv's, etc.) work like magnets to pull us indoors and hold us there, isolating us from others. Now I'm something of an ascetic anyway and I love quiet evenings at home with my wife. But I fully admit that I should be more involved in the lives of others. Granny and T leave me a strong example of "authentic community" and I would do well to follow their lead.

I will likely have more to say on Granny's life as I explore more of her diaries. They are so fascinating!

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