December, 1939

Writing about ice skating, getting colds, and “The holidays” in the summer heat is always ill fitting, but here it is, as chronology dictates:  December, 1938!  The end of another year.

To catch everyone up and center ourselves, since I have been away for a few days:

By this time in 1938:

She has graduated from Bay Path College and has been working in an office building in downtown Springfield, MA.

Her best friend Zosh is serious about Eddie.

Ernie, who lives part of the time in Vermont, is serious about Jeb, but things seems shaky.  (Mostly because of consistently broken plans.)

Babu, beautiful, beautiful Babu, who loves to go out, who loves to dance, who has everything going for her, is still flitting between men never knowing where true love, or even just something that is going to work, lies.

She goes on dates with Jakey but she can’t figure him out.

She goes on dates with “the kids” which includes Zosh’s Eddie and her Johnny Lech, but she is loosing interest, and gaining, and loosing, and gaining.

Depathy is being insistent, and, well, I guess we’ll see how that goes.

And here is December, 1938:

She begins the month externally alone but inwardly is leading a rich life.  She spends the first two days of the month at home reading “Gone With the Wind.”

She writes this at the beginning of the month once she comes out of Southern Historical Romance hermitude:

Ernie Depathy broke into our group on the way home and escorted me. Gosh gee why! All the time he’s telling me how swell I am and how he likes me. Been trying to go out with me for 4 years and is still trying.

The beginning of the month is mild and Babu writes:

Yesterday was such a beautiful and exceptionally warm day…

And still, Babu comes down with the flu and battles it for a few days.

On the 9th she goes to a dance and “has numbers” with a slew boys, but not the usual hangers on.  In fact, it seemed a night for boys whose names begin with “F” only.  She dances with two Frans, one Freddy and one Frank!

She’s placed on a Nee Wah committee for a musical on Dec 12th and doesn’t mention it again all month.  Maybe this is why:

Doesn’t sound too promising but who can tell?

She took fate into her own hands and:

Walked bravely into the store and asked Jakey to go to the Fireman’s Ball Thursday.

He said yes and they jitterbugged the night away.

She goes to “The Ice Folleyes” which has become a yearly tradition.  She goes ice skating, to the Blue grotto, is out until 2 on some nights.  And those aren’t the only holiday shenanigans.  She writes wondering what her parents got for her because she sees a package get delivered and then whisked away.  The very next day she writes:

By mistake I looked in mother’s closet and glimpsed my own Christmas present. It’s a maroon quilted robe

Oh, Babu!

She gets a dollar raise and is praised at work.  She gets makeup and a manicure set as gifts from friends and a pheasant doll from Johnny and lots of kisses under mistletoe:

Got back in the car and Eddie held mistletoe over my head and John took advantage.

As only one example!

But a strange thing happened that is only made stranger by Babu’s reaction.  Or her lack of reaction:

While wrapping Christmas packages tonight the door bell rang and there was Jeb. Must have been in a fight or accident cause his face was bloody. Said he came down to wish me a merry Christmas. I didn’t go over to Ernie’s with him cause I was busy.

She never follows that up.  We will never know this full story and she really didn’t seem to even be curious.  She even sees him the next day and no, nothing.  But we do find out that he gets Ernie a compact for Christmas.

While Babu is trying to break down Jake’s indifference, he’s trying to do the same thing.  He’s just employing a different tactic.

Yesterday, when I wouldn’t kiss Jakey at the party he called the operator on the phone to ask her what he should do. She gave him to the reformation girl.

I don’t know what half of that means but it’s adorable.  Could anyone help me understand what a reformation girl comment?  The only thing that made sense from a google search was that maybe a reformation girl is someone who is involved in the Feminist movement.  Does that make sense in this context?

Despite some lonely Gone with the Wind days and an illness, this seems like a wonderful month and holiday.  And then the new year comes.  There is little explanation, but she spends New Years alone.  She claims she’s fine with it.  But I wonder.  Even still, her New Years Eve was absolutely thrilling to read about.  Get.  This.

Saturday, December 31st, 1938

New Years Eve and I’m at home all alone. But I don’t ind the least bit, strange to say. It’s almost twelve now and the radio is taking us to different nightclubs to hear the music. Cab Calloway is holding court at present at The Cotton Club.


Really?!?!?!  Cab Calloway?  The COTTON CLUB?

Cab Calloway!



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Scarlet says:

    This is admirable and such an interesting idea, I found myself going back to your first posts because I want to understand more of what’s going on. 🙂 I recently saved my own numerous journals I kept as a teenager. I’ve thought about transforming them into something on my blog or in a story to help empower others whom experienced similar struggles since the words written were so raw. Nothing like the wonderful history of your grandmothers journals stemming back from her youth. Something about reading journals, since they are meant to be personal to its owner, makes them intriguing reads. Such a beautiful thing you are doing for her. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for saying this and I have to admit, this project by far is not all for her. I obvi get so much out of it. I think if you feel comfortable sharing your writing then you absolutely should tell your story!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Scarlet says:

        You’re welcome, of course I’m sure you do. 🙂 what an experience to read through her life. Thank you for the encouragement. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The “reformation girl” may be someone who has gone to a reform school for wayward girls. Once a girl had been placed into such an institution, the label would stick with her for the rest of her life, according to Barbara Meil Hobson in “Uneasy Virtue.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooo. So maybe the operator would have Jakey talk to a reformation girl to give love advice? ahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was my take on it. 🙂


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