I was just there to look around; after cleaning my house and organizing mountains of books, the last thing that I needed was another book. All I wanted to do was spend time with my oldest and dearest friend, Ina. We had gone to high school and college together and we had been friends for over 32 years. I did not want to buy a book, or anything else that I would have to find a place in the house to store it. We really just wanted to spend time together.
But then I saw the diary. It was dark red and worn, but not worn enough to be called battered. 1930 was in gold gilding on the cover. The book that I bought on June 6, 2019 was a diary from 1939. When I saw the diary on the shelf at the antique shop, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Every page had an entry, cursive pencil notes on some farm wife’s day. At the top of each page was a note on the weather. At the bottom, the woman had jotted down notes on how many chickens and roosters she had, as well as how many eggs she had collected. As a fourth grade teacher responsible for teaching Texas history and writing, the diary intrigued me as an artifact that I could use in the classroom. For twelve dollars, I could have a primary historical document to add authenticity to my teaching. But remember, I just cleaned the house; I put the diary down in the name of simplicity.
My friend and I continued poking around the store. We saw strange things; a wig, a taxidermied jackalope, a child’s ukulele. So after laughing about many of the odder things that we had seen, we started to head out of the store. I asked Ina to wait a minute and I went back one more time to look at the diary. Call me weak. Or spontaneous. Or crazy. I bought the diary. I even remember telling the clerk that I was a teacher in Round Rock and I was going to use the diary in my Texas history and writing curriculum. Ina and I continued just hanging out fr a few more hours. How naive I was. That afternoon was my last truly carefree afternoon for most of the summer. And it was all because of that diary. The next day, I started casually flipping through the diary. As a teacher with the summer off, I lounged on the couch in my pajamas with a third (!) cup of coffee and the diary. I noticed that in the back of the book, there was a section for addresses: Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and New Mexico. I kept turning the cream colored pages, looking to see if whoever wrote these entries had written down some note to tell me in which part of the country the author had lived. There was no information in the front pages or backpages of the book. I decided just to start reading.