Friday, February 22, 2013

Rebecca's Diary of Appalachian Life in 1918

September 10, 1918

Dear Diary,

The house is silent and a little eerie as it seems to be telling me to read Johnny’s letter. I have not taken it from its envelope yet. I am anxious and a little afraid of the written words that will be waiting for me.

It is difficult for someone my age---almost nine (9) to be in love---but I believe I am---and now he is gone.

I am sitting by the window watching the full moon and writing my feelings to you Dear Diary---you are my best secret friend.

I will read his letter now:

Dearest Rebecca,

I feel like a criminal leaving without being able to tell you in person. However, my parents are here waiting down stairs for me to finish packing. They are taking me to Canada to live in our new home.

Canada is a beautiful place where the beauty of the land has not been ravished by logging companies yet.

I know Canada must seem like another planet to you---but I will be visiting my Grandparents in the summertime and then we will be together again. I send to you every day many hugs and kisses and I am counting the days until school is out for the summer.

You will always be my girl and please wait for me. Don’t forget to rub the rock I gave you---it is our good luck charm.

Grandpa will give you a gift I am sending to you in a few days. Our home is in the North Country and the school has a room for every grade. It will seem strange at first---but then everything new has to be an acquire lesson in life.

I close with all my love to you my Sweetheart.


Now I will sleep with his letter under my pillow---Good Night Dear Diary.

Goodnight My Johnny---I Love You.

© BEPH  2013 All Rights  Reserved                                                                                                     Love Letters

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rebecca's Diary September 9, 1918

September 9, 1918

 Dear Diary,

It was a little chilly this morning as Margaret and I walked to school. Margaret was quiet while studying her Latin---so I let my mind visit my fantasy day dream of what life would be like when I am grown at 18 years old.

We walked pass Blue Rock and Purple Rock and Johnny was not there. I got a funny feeling in my tummy and when this happens I always hear bad news. Margaret calls it Becky’s crystal ball tummy---so this morning I did not say anything to her about my feeling.

It was such a beautiful morning to have a dark cloud over my heart---but it was there all the same. I wish Johnny was here so I could tell him about it. But he was nowhere to be found and I asked all my friends if they had seen him. They all said no---and my heart was really gloomy now---I was sure I would not like it when I found out.

Miss Goodhall rang the school bell and we all lined up in order of our grades and when she nodded---we silently walked in and---took our seats. We were well behaved children with a few exceptions.

This is so precious---Angels singing.
When Miss Goodhall said “Children, Mr. Donovan has something to tell us about Johnny---so please listen.” I thought my heart had stopped beating and my mind froze---not one thought appeared in my active mind---and I listened with my heart.

Mr. Donovan was Johnny’s grandfather and he said, “I am sorry to tell you Johnny’s parents came for him last night because they have a new home waiting for him in Canada. Johnny was sorry he did not have a chance to say goodbye---but he promised to write to his friend very soon.”  Mr. Donovan looked happy after his little speech which tore my heart out.

And then the most unexpected occurred---Mr. Donovan walked up to my desk and handed me a letter from Johnny. My heart gave a mountain leap of happiness. I will read it tonight after everyone is asleep---just my letter and me.

© BEPH  2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 18, 2012

September 8, 1918

Dear Diary,


Today was a day I will never forget even when I am an old woman at 40 years old. Pa and Ma left for church early because they were going to sing a special song together that Pa wrote.

Margaret and I left home after my brothers did because Mark was going to meet his new girlfriend at the foot of Blue Rock. I was wearing my lucky green hat and Margaret was wearing her lucky homemade bracelet out of walnut shells. Pa had varnish the shells for her and drilled holes with his pocket knife so she could string them together side by side. These were very small walnut shells, and it looked so good on her wrist. We were prepared to help the luck flow in church when Pa and Ma sang their song.

As we walked our little path to church Margaret told me about a new boy maybe  moving to our Purvis Gap. His name is Lucas O’Shay and he is a cousin to one of Margaret’s friends who lives in Sullivan’s Gap. My sister Margaret is so popular I cannot remember all her friends because everyone knows my beautiful sister.

As we rounded the corner of Blue Rock my Johnny stepped out and said good morning to us and then held his hand out for mine. I looked into his green eyes and wonder if this was what the preacher meant when he spoke about “Biblical Love.” Did it give one a fluttering feeling in one’s tummy when Johnny held my hand? I will ask Margaret later.

Johnny and I sat with Margaret and Matthew. Mark was stilling with a pretty red haired girl, and he looked around at us and winked. My brother was so handsome---just like Pa.

When Ma and Pa stood in front of us all to sing their song---I could not breathe until the first words of their song came out:

I am yours my Lord; I work and wait for thee,

I live and work for thee,

I do unto to my neighbors with your love for thee,
-----only Thee
Our family is blessed by thee,

My children worships only thee,
-----only Thee
Our church is blessed by thee,

Where your word is carried with us through the week for thee
-----only Thee
We are your humble doers for thee,

Our walk is always with thee,

On the path to Heaven we journey for thee,
-----only Thee
Amen my Lord Only to Thee.


Ma and Pa sounded like Angels---and when they finished singing the church was silent---for a full minute my brother Mark said. Then everyone stood and clapped so loud and long that Pa and Ma turned red from all the praise. My sister Margaret said it was not proper to clap in church---but this was special so it was fine this time.

Johnny gave me a beautiful purple rock to put under my pillow he said--- so I would dream about him. Johnny did not know it---but I did not need that rock to dream about him or think about him. Johnny was in my dreams every night.

My Margaret said when she looked at my sleeping face in the morning I was smiling. My purple rock was under my pillow all day while I was at school. And the first thing I did when I came home I went into my room to make sure it was still there. I pick it up and feel the smoothness and kiss it before putting it back to sleep under my pillow.

I am sleepy now-- my Dear Diary---Good Night.

© BEPH  2012  All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rebecca's Diary---September 7, 1918

September 7, 1918


 Dear Diary,

Ma called us early to get our chores done before 9:00 am, because it was going to be a busy day she said. Everyone had planned to meet at the Community Church to have lunch before the Ballgame. Our Ma had fixed for two days for this day because her sons were playing. And my Johnny was playing too. My Johnny, that sounds so good to whisper to myself.

Ma combed my hair out of my usual braids and let the curls bounce down my back---just like my beautiful sister---Margaret’s hair. Margaret said I was the one who was beautiful today---and I felt happy as I never looked in my mirror often. However, when I did I thought myself plain compared to Margaret.

Margaret looked like a younger Ma---Ma was the beauty of the mountains Pa said one night at supper. And my Pa knows everything. Pa kissed Ma often and in front of us sometimes, but mostly when they thought no one was watching. That is how I want my married life to be---just like theirs.

What a wonderful walk to the church---Pa and my brothers had carried all Ma’s baskets ahead of time. So Ma, Margaret and I walked to the church together. It was such a beautiful morning---the sunlight felt warm on my cool face. And Margaret and Ma kept looking at me in a sweet way.

Johnny and his Grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Donovan were in the church setting up the tables. When Johnny saw me, he turned to his Grandpa and said something. Mr. Donovan looked my way and smiled, then waved at us. Johnny finished helping then came and stood by my side.

Johnny took my hand and said I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, with my dimples, blue eyes and blond hair---so blond it was almost white. And then he kissed the inside of my hand and then my wrist. Margaret was the only one standing with us---and I thought she was going to smile herself into next week.

I saw Ma and Pa looking at us---and in a second they were by our side. Pa shook Johnny’s hand and Mr. Donovan’s as he appeared suddenly. Pa said to Johnny---so you want to marry my baby girl someday? Johnny replied---Yes Sir, I do and I am going to college so I will be able to take care of her in the style she is accustomed to---thanks to you Mr. and Mrs. Lindberg.

My Pa said---Son, how old are you? I believe you have the manners of a full grown man and just as smart. And then Pa put his arm around Johnny as he again shook Mr. Donovan’s hand. And said---It looks like we may be in the same family one day. Then everyone laughed and I turned red in the face---I know I did---because I could feel it getting hot.

Our team won and Johnny ran across the field to kiss my hand again---and everyone clapped. Because my Johnny had won the game with his five home runs today.

What a wonderful day.

Good Night Dear Diary


© BEPH  2012  All Rights Reserved





Rebecca's Diary---September 6, 1918

September 6, 1918


 Dear Diary,

This morning Ma told us girls to wear a sweater and the boys their light jackets. She said we were so lucky to have new shoes for school. Because Pa sold the first harvest of his Walnut and Pecan trees and used the money to buy the family clothes for the fall and winter.

Some of the other children had new shoes, and Ma secretly gave our old ones to the children who had none. Ma has a tender heart and wants every child to have a good start in life. Her favorite saying is---Purvis Gap’s children are the future of our world. She has many saying---unlike our Pa who talks little and works hard.

I had on my blue sweater and blue dress this morning and brushed my blond hair until it shined. Because I was hoping Johnny would be waiting for us at the purple rock to walk with us to school.

Johnny was at the purple rock and joined us for our walk to school. We lived about a mile from school as it was more in a hollow by the General Store and Community Church. Johnny walked ahead of Margaret and me with my brothers. They were all talking about the baseball games and how great the play field was looking since the men who had trees to donate sent them to Mr. O’Conner’s sawmill; to cut into boards to make seats for the people that came to watch.

Johnny turned around before we got to school and winked at me and smiled. He asked me if I was going to the game to watch him play. And all I would do is smile at him and look into his beautiful green eyes. My brother Mark looked around at us and smiled but not my brother Matthew. Matthew said to Johnny---my baby sister is too young for you to like Johnny.

Johnny was as tall as Matthew and looked just as strong---and all of a sudden they stood nose to nose, eye to eye. My sister Margaret hugged me to her and she pulled me out of the way. Johnny said to Matthew---I know I am older---but I am going to marry your sister when she is old enough---I will wait for her. I will not let anything bad happen to her for the rest of our lives---and you might be able to beat me up now---but I can defend myself.

Matthew looked from Johnny to me and back to Johnny---Matthew said---Rebecca will have to choose who she will marry---but since she will be 8 years old in December 25th on Christmas Day---you will have a long wait.

So Johnny and Matthew parted as friends---maybe, and he turned and winked at me again.

Good Night Dear Diary.


© BEPH  2012  All Rights Reserved


Rebecca's Diary---September 5, 1918

Dear Diary


September 5, 1918


School was wonderful today because after lunch Miss Goodhall started reading a beautiful story to us to about a wolf-dog---the name of the book was Baree: The Story of a Wolf-Dog by James Oliver Curwood. And the greatest thing about this book; it was published this year in 1918. We had never seen, read or listened to someone read to us from a just published book in the same year.

Each morning when Ma wakes us for school the weather is colder. And it makes me feel so good because I know that Thanksgiving is near and then Christmas. On Christmas Day I will be 8 years old and Miss Goodhall said I was reading on a six grade level and writing on an eighth grade level.

When she told my parents they were so proud. My sister Margaret is 12 years old and she is already reading and writing on a 12th grade level. She is so smart and I am so happy to be her baby sister.

Mark and Matthew my brothers are 14 and 16 years old, and they are on a college level. And Miss Goodhall had special books sent to the school from Texas just for my brothers. Pa said the smiles on their faces would be there forever and a day. That was Pa’s favorite saying—forever and a day.

Ma said the reason her children were so smart is because we are fed a better diet and we had better genes that most, but we were not allowed to talk about it away from home.

I think Johnny Donovan likes me. He is a new boy to Purvis Gap and came to live with his grandparents forever. I don’t know why he is here, but he is cute. He has black hair and green eyes---as green as the evergreen trees. Johnny is 12 years old and very nice. He waited by the purple rock to walk with us to school this morning.

I will tell you more tomorrow.


© BEPH  2012  All Rights Reserved


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rebecca's Diary of Her Appalachian Home

My Appalachian Home

Dear Diary,

It is September 4, 1918

School started today in Purvis Gap and we are excited about having a new teacher. We all hope she is young and will have more energy than Mrs. O’Brien. In truth she was too old to teach anymore, as she would fall asleep after lunch each day when we did our silent reading.

My shoes were wet from the morning dew of the high grass on our path to school. I should not complain about my shoes getting wet---as many of the children do not have shoes. My brothers and sister walked with me to school to meet our new teacher for the New Year. We met up with our friends in the hollow and they walked with us on our early morning journey.

Some of us have our lunches in wrapped in old newspapers and some in old syrup buckets. And some do not have anything to carry for lunch. It is a hard time now in our gap where we live on our Appalachian Mountain. Our family is luckier than most---so Ma always puts more in our syrup buckets to share with others who do not have food.

Our Pa is a better provider than most as he has honey, nuts and a large fall garden to feed his family. And he is an excellent hunter and so are my two brothers, Mark and Matthew. They helped Pa plowed with a hand push plow and we helped him plant our garden. We are blessed to have a good house to live in with my two brothers and sister. The boys have their own room and my sister and I share one.

Our new teacher’s name is Miss Margaret Goodhall and she is from Texas---the biggest state of our union. She is petite and beautiful with long red hair and earrings that sparkled in the light of the one room school house. And she had a beautiful dress on today it was lavender and had many ruffles. All the boys are in love with her porcelain face and big blue eyes.

We did a review of our last summer’s lessons and Miss Goodhall smiled as most of us were up to date on writing, reading, spelling and our arithmetic. She gave us new books for the fall and we were all so happy to have something new to learn from and enjoy the smell of newness. We all wrote our names in the new books. It was a proud day for all. We all had smiles on our faces---even the poorest children were happy. The children who always came to school in dirty clothes and no shoes--- were smiling today. It made my heart swell with gratitude

She told us her Uncle John sent the books to us as gifts because he owned a large bookstore in Dallas. That is a large city in Texas. I want to go there one day when I grow up---as I have only been to small places in the hollows and gaps of these mountains. I know there is a great world out there where people can walk on sidewalks and walk for miles on flat land. Imagine that---no walking up and down these mountain trails like a goat.

I am sleepy now Dear Diary---and I will write more tomorrow.
© BEPH  2012  All Rights Reserved