Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh, My, How Uncivilized! Anna's Diary - 1929

I was going through the stuff on my book shelves and came across an old diary that I had picked up at an auction a couple of years ago.  I kept meaning to read it but have not had a chance until now.

The writer is a woman who lived in Newark, New Jersey.   Her first name is Anna. I shall not reveal the last name.  The diary contains a whole year's worth of entries starting with January 1, 1929.  She also started to record entries for 1930, but those only go up to March 28.

One of the things I find relatable is that my grandparents, after emigrating from Italy,  settled in Newark and lived at 67 Irving St. for the rest of their lives.  My Dad was born and raised in Newark.   Actually, I was born in a hospital in Newark, but grew up in other towns in New Jersey.

For as long as my grandparents were alive, we would visit every Sunday.

I thought it would be interesting to include entires from this diary in my daily posts. The entries give a glimpse into the daily lives of those living in New Jersey in 1929.  To bring it up to date, today, my post will contain those entries from January 1, until today's date, January 21. Then each day, at the end of my own post, I will record this woman's entry for that particular day.

Reading this journal is like solving a puzzle.  Anna refers to many different people in her life and as the daily entries go on, I have gotten to know by, deduction, what part each individual plays in her life.

When Anna refers to someone, she will generally include first and last names.  In most cases I have copied the entries word for word, exactly as written.  However, in some cases I have left out last names and have only included the first initial of the last name.

She refers to "360" a lot.  I have concluded that this is the address of her mother's home.

So here are the entries of January 1 - January 21 1929

Tuesday, January 1
New Years Eve Supper at Mothers.  A visit to Mother-in-law.  Home and bed at 12.  Awakened 4:30 by bunch for waffles and coffee until noon.  Dinner at Mothers.  Movies at night. Jim-Marie Ted-Lou Jewel - Rick Slim -Peg Jean - I.

Wed., January 2
Had lunch at Rae N's with Junior.  Stopped at Frances G's on way home as her husband is ill with flu. Finished book "Harness" by Arthur Hamilton Gibbs.

Thurs., January 3
Down Town Shopping.  Baby at 360.  Went back for supper.  Jewel & Rick came back home with me.  Played bridge until 11 o'clock. Had coffee and sandwiches. Then to bed.

Friday, January 4
Sarah R here to do the laundry.  Slim and Nick P. stopped in to do some odd jobs for me.
Visited at the Connelys on Ridge St. after supper.  Just talked, we three.

Monday, January 7
Ted here overnight and brought Junior home to 360.  Met Edythe down town for lunch.  Shopped for Jewel's birthday gift.  Bought modern luncheon set and pair of linen pillow cases for her chest.

Tuesday, January 8
Felt very depressed. Met Jewel at 5 o'clock.  Left ad for anniversary Mass at News office.  We went to Ralph's for hair trim.  She came home for supper with me. Rick in Trenton at Banquet.  Jewel stayed over night.

Sun., January 13
Mass at St. Michaels 11:30.  Dinner at Mrs. N's. Had fun with Baby's entertaining whole family.  It put Mr. Nap in a better frame of mind.  He is getting cynical and bitter.

Monday, January 14
Home all day.  Helen C. came over at night with Edythe and Clarence.  Marion A. and Jewel here for supper.  Gave Jewel her linens for her birthday and she was delighted.

Tuesday, January 15
Went shopping in New York all day with Jewel and Edythe.  Baby at grandmas for the day. Brandford with Peg and Jean right from NY shopping tour.  Dead tired.

Wed., January 16
Stayed all night at 360 and spent the day.  Had tea with Frances G. at Bambs [She is referring to the department store Bamberger's] tea room.  Met mary B and went home with her.  Gave Junior Jersey suit for Birth.

Thurs., January 17
Home all day- Rain, sleet and ice outdoors.  Very hard to walk. Rosalie came from school.  Jean went to Y.W. phoned to meet me at Mt Prospect 8:30. Edythes birthday.

Friday, January 18
Had Sarah, the laundress all day.  Elsie over for a while this morning.  Frances came for lunch.  She phoned Rae N about their lodge trouble and almost straightened it out.

Sat., January 19
Rae here afternoon and stayed for supper.  Jewel & Rick stopped in played bridge for awhile.  Took Rae home and home and in bed by ten.

Sunday, January 20
Mass at Lady of Good Counsel 11 a.m. Baby at Elsies.  Stopped there on way back for a while.  All went to Grandma M's about 5.  Saw all Leonardis family there.

Monday, January 21
Home. Loretta S. for lunch.  Mary and children here all afternoon.  We went to see Mrs. Nap and then to see Grace and Baby Marion.  Met Jean and supper at Mario's.

What I find remarkable is the difference in the way people interacted with each other in 1929 as compared to today.  There was a lot of in person visiting and socializing.  I wonder what Anna would think about the way we socialize, in 2012, many times via text messages, Facebook and Twitter.  I have a feeling she would say
"Oh my, how uncivilized."


  1. This is fantastic! What a great find. I can't wait to read more.

  2. Interesting stuff!  I agree - a lot more in person visiting and such.  Do you have any idea how old Anna is?  It doesn't sound as if she is married but is she 20 or 50?  and who is Baby?  her baby?  It will be interesting to watch her life over the year.

  3. I'm fascinated by old diaries and journals. Looking forward to hearing more.

  4. Thank you for the background! I've been wondering how Anna's diary came about. So interesting! And so different than we are today. Such similarity with blogging though.