Greenwood Diary, 1930s

[Years ago I was given an old diary that had come from a local auction. It had been written by an anonymous farm wife from this rivertop location where I live. I saved the booklet for a while because of its reflection of the hard times many rural folks experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Whereas much of the piece was barely literate, there were fragments that were both incisive and picturesque. I share them on the chance you’ll find something of interest born in local history.]woodchuck.jpg

On Ground Hog Day the old bear saw his shadow.

Teddie the dog got caught in one of Harry’s traps.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We’ll visit Steven’s place to hear electric radio.

At 12 below, the worst blizzard we have seen!

A chimney fire today, and learned about the Lindberg baby.

Kidnapped! Saw the wild geese flying north.

April 10th, the peepers hollered for the first.

Harry went to the bank and got his money.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABanks have been shutting since Roosevelt took the chair.

We listened to the gas wells roaring at Rock Creek.

The boys are sugaring and I helped them boil the sap.

The Lindbergh baby has been found!

The gypsies up at Cold Springs helped us pull the mustard.

A tornado out at Slate Creek blew the King farm into pieces!

It is hot. We fixed the springs to cool our milk.

On August 3rd the sun eclipsed at 3 p.m.

Picked berries up on Dryden Hill, then raked the hay.

Lightning got the Lamphier’s cow while being milked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The threshers came, and dad helped cut the corn.

Me and Harry went for butternuts and roamed the fields.

Dug potatoes until noon, got just 20 cents a bushel.

Christmas, won’t give no presents this year.

The wind blew all day long, and 4 degrees below.

On Ground Hog Day the old bear saw his shadow.

The radio men were here for us to try one.

They’ll return to pick it up today.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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8 Responses to Greenwood Diary, 1930s

  1. Junior says:

    Considering that electric radio was such a novelty, news across the town of Greenwood must have traveled as fast as a horse, or an old car on mostly dirt roads. It’s also interesting to see family names that still survive today.

    • Thanks, and that’s how I perceive it. I suppose this article kind of pushes the boundary of a “fly fishing blog,” but I think it’s interesting to remember that, in a world of instant messaging and instant response, a person with an interest in the world outdoors isn’t all that far removed from a similar place in which the means of messaging is radically different.


  2. What an amazing glimpse into the daily life of our forefathers. Despite all the hardships they went through, I read that the rates of clinical depression were actually much lower among those who lived through the economic depression of the ’30s. A testament, I think, to the power of hard work and shared sacrifice.

    • A great point, Jim; “the power of hard work and shared sacrifice” says it all.


      • Bob Stanton says:

        Walt, that is cool, cool, cool. And again, this is why I like your blog so much…it has substance. Interesting too, is her comments on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. A few years back, I was searching through microfiche of our local newspaper looking for my great grandmother’s obituary, and news of the kidnapping dominated the headlines for that period.

      • Hey Bob, thank you kindly for this comment. I was worried that readers wouldn’t “get it,” that I’d lose subscribers due to its unusual connection to the stated themes but you and others help me keep the faith. Yeah, the Lindbergh case, wow. Can you imagine how CNN and others would be all over this issue if something similar happened today?


  3. Long says:

    very neat, ah the simplicity of life in the olden days!

    • Thanks Long. The “simplicity” of life back then was a bitch, at times, but hopefully it’s interesting to us who ride the crest of the moment for a while.


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