I’m organizing some drawers and stumble upon a shoebox containing five years of my diaries from the 1960s. They are covered with some green-ish moldy-looking stuff, but they don’t smell funky. But, perhaps my sixty-something year old sense of smell is not as acute as it used to be.
These days you hear about scrapbooks and journals, in fact, “journaling” is often used as a verb. But do little girls even keep diaries anymore? Show me one who does!
I long since misplaced the keys to any of my old diaries, but the good news is that they’re all unlocked. I’m nine and a half in the first one I peruse; that’s the exact same age of my granddaughter right now. I start my January 1 entry written in the neatest printing I may have ever had, by wishing a Happy New Year to myself. Gosh, my world was small back then.
January 2, I grumbled, “Went to school. Had a terrible sub”. (I currently do some substitute teaching and wonder what young Debbie had in mind.) Saturday January 3, “Got the measles.” (What a bummer to get sick on the weekend!)
I must have felt better by January 9 because every day for the next four weeks the entries included “Beat up Ralph (my brother)”, and sometimes “Beat up Ralph and Lizzie (my sister)”, followed by “Very dull day.” I wonder what would have made the day more exciting? At the end of each week’s diary entries is a place that says “memoranda” After the first week in February, I promised myself “I’ll try not to get into these crazy fights with Ralph and Lizzie.”
I shared a bedroom with Lizzie, but we must have had some sort of a problem on February 3, because I wrote “I slept away from Lizzie because I hate her.” But in the middle of all this fighting, there’s an entry “I wrote poetry.” I guess I didn’t realize that I had been writing poetry at such an early age.
From a mid- February entry, “I went to school. Found a hole in my boots. Wore Mom’s.” I wrote and sent Valentine’s that week, did homework, made a snow fort, had a piano lesson and went to Sunday School.” The memoranda for that week reads “This week I’ve had many exciting experiences.” Later that month I “watched John Glenn take off in a rocket.” The month ended with “Took a bath” and “watched TV” and “Went to the library” and “Made popcorn.” Goodness, I had an inspiring childhood!
Some of my diary entries at the end of March are written in red, but polite person that I must have been back in the early 1960s; I apologized to myself claiming that I had “lost my good pen.” Good girl, Debbie.
April 1, my entries metamorphosed to cursive writing, beautiful writing, as if I was being graded on my penmanship. But by mid-April I may have burned out on “diarying” because the writing stopped during a family vacation by car from Chicago to Los Angeles. During the remainder of that April, all I wrote was “Dear Diary” each day, nothing more, very efficient and indicative of clues of my early emerging Type A personality, or perhaps I was harboring some secrets not appropriate for a young girl’s thoughts. It seems that I took a hiatus from diary-writing for the next four years.
Do you have any of your old diaries? Scrutinize the contents to assure that there is nothing risqué between those fabric covers. Your grandchildren might enjoy getting to know what you were like at their age and the events in your life that seemed noteworthy at the time.
Author biography: Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines including Ancestry Magazine, baby boomer, and grandmother of three. She lives in a Midwestern college town. She has been published in GRAND Magazine in the past. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.