Friday, January 16, 2015

January 16, 1907 Wednesday This morning I got up and ate my breakfast and went to school early. After school was over I came home and climbed the tree then we Page 15 went down and climbed the bannana tree. We stayed there most of the afternoon and I slid down a branch. I was so scared when a branch split that I nearly fell off the branch. I got down without falling then I was so cold that I went into the house. B and I tried to get the puzzle but couldn’t. We made pictures till it was time for her to go home. Then we had supper then Mama & Mildred went to the automobile show. Margaret and Beatrice came over & played. They went home & then I went to bed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Page 13

Jan 14, 1907 Monday

This morning I got up and ate breakfast. Then I went to school. It is raining. We had one session. After lunch Margaret came over and Beatrice. We played post office. Beatrice was post master and she stamped the letter. Margaret and I wrote letters. After we had played a while we played “Acting Charades.” Then we wrote on the blackboard. I went down to Dale & Canes with Beatrice & when I got home I played solitaire till suppertime. After supper I played solitaire. Then I wrote my diary. It was time for me to go to bed so I went.

Marcy’s fur cap

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jan. 12 Sat.

This morning I got up and went downstairs to get dressed. After I had made my bed Beatrice came over and we went together down to fourth Ave. It was very rainy & we followed Freddy all the way down. After we got home we read till it was time to have dinner. After dinner over we read until we went down to the library. We came home and Beatrice went home and I went home and played cards till supper time After supper was over I wrote my diary and read till I went to bed.

[insert photo of pencil sketches of three small puzzles or riddles]

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Jan 13, 1907 Sunday p> This morning I got up and went down stairs and ate my breakfast. After breakfast was over I got ready for Sunday School. After I was home I read till dinnertime. When dinner was over I read a little while. Then I went out for a walk with cousin Aneta and Cousin Florence and the two boys. Then Honey and I came home. On the way home Honey screamed Rubber at a lady. Ha. Ha. I came home and read till suppertime. After supper I came up and wrote my diary. Then I read till I went to bed.

[insert photo of ink drawing of open book]

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two small entries for Grandma's diary. I had meant to put one up each day, but yesterday got away from me.

Oh dear, Dorothy forgot her gloves! John was her younger brother, aged 9, and I wonder what he thought about having to deliver those gloves. Was she allowed to participate or did she have to sit on the sidelines till they arrived and she could dance properly. A lady didn't dance without her gloves!

Jan. 10, 1907 Thursday

This morning I got up and ate my breakfast and went to school. When school was over I came home and got ready for dancing school. After I had been there for about fifteen minutes, John brought my gloves. When it was over I went home and read till suppertime. After supper was over I practiced. Then I came up. I wrote my diary. Then I read till I went to bed.

Dorothy and Beatrice and Margaret, a trio of girls on their (or there, of you prefer Dorothy's spelling) bicycles, riding through the streets of Mt. Vernon, NY. January must have been chilly, but these girls went to the library and to livines. They had pocket money for candy and ice cream and weren't afraid to spend it. I wonder if they had appetites at supper or whether all that cycling burned up the sugar.

And why was she sleeping on the third floor? Had company come to visit, so that she ceded her room to others and moved upstairs? Dorothy, I wish you'd given us a bit more detail!

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Jan. 11, 1907 Friday

This morning I got up and ate my breakfast and practiced till it was time to go to school. After school was over I came home and asked Charlie to take my bicycle out & Beatrice and Margaret got there wheels and we rode our wheels down to the library. After we came back we went to livines and bought some candy, and got a sunday. Then we rode a little while longer and saw Freddy. After we went home I read till suppertime. Then I read again till I wrote my diary. Then I read till I went to bed. I had to sleep in the third floor.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Simple Day for Dorothy

Not much going on in Grandma's diary today. I wish I knew what she's practicing, piano probably. There was always a baby grand in their big living room on Ash Street, and my Mother had lessons and played beautifully. I have still some of her lesson books. I wish I knew who her friends were, Beatrice, Margaret, Emery. Were they all 11, were they in the same class? I wish I knew more, and had thought to ask more when I could.

I love the imagery of the two little girls on their bicycles, being blown right along by the wind, and later watching the cars go. All sorts of motion, active and passive.

Jan. 9, 1907 Wednesday

I got up early in the morning and did my practicing. I ate my breakfast and went to school. After school was over Beatrice & I rode down to forth Ave. It was very windy and the wind blew us right along. When we got home, Margaret was there. We went down to the library and read a while. When we

Page 9

got home we had supper. We came upstairs and papa brought out some cars for the boys. Emery came over & we watched the cars go. Then I went to bed.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


First I must thank my Canadian friend Dale Lee for telling me about Clock, a complicated solitaire game with a small chance of success. International friendships are wonderful!

I made a mistake on the first day, mistyping the date, so that I thought I was beginning on the sixth with Grandma's entry for that day, but really it was her entry for the seventh, so I've been a day ahead. Today I will skip posting her entry and tomorrow I will be back on track.

Instead, today I posted a photo of her father, Elmer Grant Willyoung, known in the diary as Papa. I didn't know a lot about him, except that he was smart, had a business in NYC, and died early in an auto accident. His death put an end to my Grandma's education at Wellesley, where she was a member of the class of 1920. Family legend has it that there wasn't money sufficient for her tuition, and so she left school.

I found a piece of a photo, a casual group shot from the University of Michigan class of 1888, torn from a larger print. Ernest, wearing a bowler hat, full mustache and stern expression, is centered in the fragment. I called the UofM Alumni Association to see what I could learn about his degree, and was told that, although they didn't keep records that far back, I might find help at the Bentley Historical Library. A voice message later, my call was returned and I was told that Elmer Grant Willyoung received a BS in 1888 from the College of Literature, Science and Art. At that time there were four fields of study, and if I sent a written request I might get further information. When I asked if it needed to be a hard copy request, she said, "Oh no, just send me an email," which I promptly did. I should know more within the week.

The internet is a wonderful repository! I have found so many links to his name, learned so much about his life and business. By the time Dorothy began this diary, her father had sold a successful business in Philadelphia, moved his family to New York, opened another business, secured at least five patents, presented scientific papers that are now included in The Tesla Collection, and fathered five children. At some point he went to law school and became a counselor and patent attorney.

Years ago I was in communication with my second cousin John, who is the grandson of John C Willyoung, Dorothy's younger brother, number four in the lineup. I called him and was pleased when he returned my call. He's got all sorts of information about Papa, but was on his way to a meeting, so we couldn't talk long.

It must have been a nice, quiet life at 5 N. Fulton Ave, orderly, with meals at set times, music lessons, dancing class, Sunday School, rides with friends on bicycles, trips to the library.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dorothy plays Clock

Today's diary entry is short but still contains a small mystery. What was the game Clock? An indoor game, probably a calm one, if played after supper and before bedtime. Googling presents no information, alas. Must research this further.

I wish Grandma Dot had included more information. What did she eat each day? How far was school from her house? I love that she came home to eat each day, no brown-bagging for her! They ate the breakfast-dinner-supper pattern, not today's breakfast-lunch-dinner, and I can imagine that she sat at a table with her siblings for this midday meal. There has been no mention of Mildred, who was newly 16 when this diary began and in high school. Papa, Ernest Grant Willyoung, Sr, was a teacher or professor, I believe, teaching Engineering. He was a member of the graduating class of 1888 from the University of Michigan.

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Jan. 8, 1907 Tuesday

I got up early this morning & did most of my practicing. After breakfast I finished my practicing. When I was through I went to school. Came home & ate my dinner. Went to school again & when I came home it was raining. Beatrice came down and read till five o’clock. Beatrice went home. I read till papa came home. Then we had supper. I came up to write my diary, then played clock and read a while. Then I went to bed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A New Blog for an old Diary

It's now 2015 and I'm going to revive this blog which has lain dormant for so long, using it to post my grandmother's 1907 diary, with photos and recollections of her.

I've had this small red book for years, kept it safely tucked into the top shelf, but age and desert dryness are crumbing the edges, so I want to transcribe the contents before they disappear. What's interesting about this little book is that it's also my mother's diary from 1937. My grandma was 11 when she wrote her entries, Mom was 12.

There are mysteries here, beginning with the title page, where my grandma writes her name as Dorothy M. Willyoung, very clearly. But we always knew her middle name to be Carpenter, after her mother's mother, Ella Louisa Carpenter, who was born about 1833. Ella married Charles Morris, and their third child was Eliza Victoria Morris, b 17 Dec, 1861, in New Jersey. Eliza was my grandmother's mother, so perhaps she adopted the M for Morris, to honor her mother.

I have a napkin from my grandma's trousseau, with the initials DCW embroidered in a corner. It is wearing thin at the folds, but I use it occasionally. When I was photographing my breakfasts for Irene, I used it in June, 2009, but the fork partially covers the initials.

So, there's that mystery. Another is the house at that address. I know that four of the five children were born in PA, and the youngest, Elmer Grant Willyoung, Jr, called Grantie, to distinguish him from his father, was born in 1901 in NY. So the family must have moved from PA to NY sometime between 1898 and 1901. My grandma have lived in the Mt Vernon house for some years before she began her diary.

I have several photos of the family. For this first post I've chosen a family grouping from a house I haven't identified yet. Three children and their parents, on a front porch, my grandma, the youngest, on her father's lap. I don't think this is their house in Mt. Vernon, however.

I Googled the address, 5 N. Fulton, Mt Vernon, and found a photo of two houses, each three story, but the porches and door alignments don't match. Checking on Zillow, I found that the house had sold in 2004, with a link to the realtor. I called him and had a wonderful conversation. I did tell him first that I was not a potential client, but that I was looking for information about a house on Fulton Ave. He was very helpful, told me that the house is now a three-family residence, and that the front porch had been enclosed, but the front doors were in the center of the front, not to one side as in the family photo. He offered to email me the listing photo and more info. Alas, this house was built in 1935, so the old Willyoung house must have been destroyed. Another mystery.

So, that's the beginning. I hope to transcribe all the entries, both of my grandmother and of my mother, and post them. Grandma Dot kept her diary through April, then set it aside. Mom began her entries in October. Grandma Dot's are in ink, blotted at times; Mom's are in pencil. Each girl added occasional drawings, which I will photograph.

Several of the opening pages have been cut out, so the diary begins on Page 7.

Page 7
Jan. 6, 1906, Mon.
Today I woke up and began to read. I finished a book. I was late for breakfast. After breakfast I went to school. It was very warm. In the afternoon after I had come home from school, we went down to the sawmill and stayed about fifteen minutes. Then papa called me up. Margaret, Beatrice and I took a ride and rode all the afternoon. When I came home I took my music lesson. Ate my supper and read a while. Then went to bed.