This month I received a notification from WordPress that it is my one year Anniversary with Transcribing Memory. In that time I have transcribed almost three years of Babu’s young life. She has graduated from high school and has begun her second year in college. She has had ups and downs with her parents but the love and the spoiling they show her is evident. She has gained friends, most importantly Ernie, Zosh is an ever constant confidante in her life, and she almost lost a friend in Jeanette. It took a major mortification to bring the two back together. “Tom and Jerry,” the foolhardy boys of the neighborhood, have broken feet and legs in a car accident but have healed. High school closed for a month due to lack of funding and she enrolled in college. She has gone to innumerable dances and danced with many different boys. Drobey and and Jamie both keep hanging around but the ones she has her fingers crossed and her gut in knots over barely know who she is. I’d love to wonder what W.B.Z. and Maurice would think if they read this, but I know they are not around any longer. Babu has skated by starlight as an old year turned into a new year sharing her ice skates with her best friend, who will stay her best friend all the way to the end. She was there to witness the great New England Flood of 1936 and found the beauty in it. Kings have died and the Great Depression wages on.
Here are some things I’ve learned throughout this transcribing process:
- Life has many surprises. Watching her now (and by that I mean reading 1936) I can tell you she has no idea how her life will turn out. Also, these diaries are a surprise for me and allowed me a whole other relationship with a grandparent I didn’t see coming.
- All teenagers, and even all of us now, feel that ridiculous level of insecurity. We all wondered why we weren’t popular, how we could hide our faces when our skin broke out, or embarrassed ourselves publicly and never forgot it.
- History takes perspective. Babu didn’t know she was smack in the middle of The Great Depression. She didn’t know that the flood happening around her would still to this day be the largest seen in our area. She had no idea when Bruno Hauptman was executed that we would still be talking about the Linburgs.
- Details are beautiful. Details of an “unimportant” life are beautiful. A whole world sleeps in those books and Babu holds the only candle. (Ok, to be a little less dramatic, some of the younger people she knew could very well still be here, like the two young girls who come to visit her from another apartment and talk about high heels and boys. I wonder where they are now.)
- I learned paper that is 80 years old will not disintegrate! I learned that all the black and white movies with people like Peter Lorre and Audrey Hepburn and Rita Heyworth were from the 1930’s NOT the 1950’s! (Number five should just read I learned that I know nothing…)
- I learned that the blogging community is supportive, lovely, wonderful, interesting and interested. Genuine!
- I learned that transcribing, sharing, and writing about these journals takes a long time. I want to know what happens next! All in good time, all in good time.
- Taking time and interest in someone you either take care of or care for – or both – is restorative. Finding your own unique way to connect to someone, in a way only you can, is invaluable. I’m so grateful.
- Sometime life is exciting enough to break the rules. Babu wrote every day and stuck to the prescribed number of lines recording every perm, the cost of every new article of clothing, who gave her rides to school and which way, but rarely is she so full of an experience that she writes onto the next page. But sometimes life was good enough and those memories needed to be recorded at any cost.
Here are some of my favorite posts from 1936: