Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Serializations of Ypsilanti Diaries Imminent

Dusty Diary would like to go back in time and supply each and every Ypsilanti diarist with a lifetime supply of Office Max ink gel pens. J. R. Mowry: I'm looking at you, Ann Arbor Township farmer. With all due respect, sir, pencil neither cuts it nor photocopies well. Also, I've gathered that you take the milk to Ypsilanti every day. Since it's mentioned. Again. And again. Still, it's your diary, so whatever. I do smile when you say that you put your sons to work in the beans and the corn while you "rest in the shade and didn't do much."

Florence Smalley, no more pencils for you either. Also, I know you're just a child, dear, but you must strive for better penmanship. In addition, you failed to keep your diary safe from, apparently, your little brother, who scribbled all through the second half. Though the little pictures of the chickens and the yard pump are cute, and the lady in the hammock. I hope that's your mom, resting up after bringing home a wagonload of gel pens.

Evangeline Lewis: You were the literary star in high school--I've read your essays in the old yearbooks, and have seen your confident, smiling portrait--and you certainly are wordy. Wordy, wordy, wordywordywordywordywordy. I've read enough about tennis to learn the game's finest intricacies. And you're constantly chatting about flitting about with this friend and that friend and a jaunt to here and another thing and something over there, and--FOCUS PLEASE. Though I will say your diary is the most sensible in design. The "Line-A-Day" system presents four spaces for each day of the year for four years' worth of reflections. That's cool as you can see what you were doing on previous years as it slowly fills up. Good choice; I wouldn't mind one myself. And, praise be, you used ink pens.

The two ongoing year-long serializations of Carrie Hardy and Allie McCullough's diaries are about to run out. Yes--it's already been a year! Will yours, Evangeline, be the diary that's chosen as the successor to our present ones when readers vote in a few days? Or will it be Farmer Mowry's? Or Florence's? We shall see.


Lisele said...

Oh, goody! I can't wait. Altho I am sad to see Allie & Carrie go. I truly feel as if I know them. And yes, they remain near -- I believe they are both in Highland Cemetery.

As a diarist myself, I take your comments to heart. There are certain sections of my diary that would appall. How bout the five years of parenting an angsty teen? The endless gardening descriptions? My sad (and lengthy) "Day(s) in the Life of LMB...?" But DD, you will be glad to know that at least my diaries are mostly printed out from an electronic format, so at least one could read them, tho I doubt if one would ever want to read them.

DD said...

Well, I guess I was a bit snippy in this post. I s'pose it's a result of spending hours puzzling over iffy handwriting, trying yet again to decide if it's "reunion" or "revisit" or "onion," none of which make sense in context. Farmer M has idiosyncratic handwriting to boot. I'm kinda used to it, but not totally yet.

I'll prepare some summaries of these and possibly other diaries so that the people can choose.

Dusty D also keeps a top-secret ink. Written in exquisite...well, legible, anyways--handwriting.

dd said...

Oh, and yes, both Carrie and Allie are in Highland.

Russ said...

I'll be Sad to see these come to an end. I discovered this site after these pieces had started. Was the cause of Allie's early passing told? I have not seen it, but I easily could have missed it while wandering through the blog archives.

One day I drove to Ypsi and one of the things that I wanted to see was the grave site of Allie. It was easy to find following your descriptions. It happened to be in the adjacent section to where my most of my family is buried.

Now that this series is coming to an end, I have to make the comment that it's a shame that Allie's Headstone is in such sad repair. The mark of permanent remembrance is practically all gone, except for her name. I could have walked by this grave and never given it a thought. But, after reading of her day to day life through your daily postings, she really was a real person and I have an empathy and sadness for the disrepair of her grave site. It's almost like I new her. Of all the members of her family that are there, hers is the one that could vanish so easily at this point, and she's the only one that we have come to know. Perhaps that's the way it's supposed to be, but after 136 years, people have memories of her all over again. At least it has made me think about how we are remembered. Thanks! Russ

Dusty D said...

Russ: I am bowled over by your powerful comment. Thank you for your thoughts. I've visited her grave too; right by that spot where the 2 paths diverge, you know where it is. It's true, the stone could be in better repair. A tiny marker for a huge life that let so many of us know, so intimately, of a different time and reality.

I too am sad to see her series end. There is only one diary of hers in the Archives. Not to give it away, but Allie died in July. I will be posting her last entries and her obituary soon.


We have seen her portrait and learned about her family business...were we to go back in time and hang around Michigan Ave. and Huron, we'd likely see her, scurrying back from the Lyceum or heading off to church or school.

We might accost her. "Excuse me, please, miss, you don't know me, but...are you Allie McCullough? I'm from 2010...and I know you..."

Dusty D said...

...OK, I'm a little misty now...great comment Russ.

Dusty D said...

damn it. A lot misty.

cmadler said...

The comments about the fading of Allie's headstone reminded me of some of the material I've read about the changing nature of burial places and practices. Today in the US, many (most?) cemetaries will only allow granite headstones, because the stone is so hard and durable. In earlier periods, grave markers were limited to materials available in the area, and marble, limestone, and even wood were common in the 1800s.

But there's a value to that impermenance. Burying everyone with very durable headstone makes re-use of burial spots more problematic. See the Wikipedia article on cemeteries which discusses some of those issues. I'm also reminded of this. I'd argue that it's a good thing for old graves to eventually wear away.

Dusty D said...

Very intriguing viewpoint cmadler, and food for thought.

There's an old forgotten cemetery in Salem, up in Superior Township. Hard to find; it's in a copse of woods, near the Superior Twp. hall if I remember correctly. Found only 3 graves. They were of stone but entirely eroded and smooth as if they'd been melted. At the time I felt a bit sad about it since I had no way of reading names.

Your point is well taken however. Just personally I have no wish for a permanent headstone or burial spot. An anonymous green burial (no embalming, ugh!) or cremation would be fine. If I could nourish a tree, like all the trees I've loved and benefited from through life, that would be ideal.

Not that I'd have much say in the matter at that point.

Lisele said...

As Russ said, I've been thinking a lot about mortality, impermanence, and how we are remembered, due to reading Allie's & Carrie's diaries. Also, my sister has been doing a great deal of research and posting census pages, obits, and cemetery markers for members of my family almost daily. I was struck yesterday with the obit and headstone of my father's favorite uncle, Timothy, for whom my brother is named. And yet all we know of him is one photo of him as a teen, one line of a canned obituary, and a picture of a headstone. That's all that remains of a life that was important to at least some others. This is why I keep a diary -- because now we *know* Carrie and Allie. They can be known, and the content of their days is not lost.

So glad to hear you are a diarist, DD! Such an excellent practice that I wish more people engaged in.

Dusty D said...

That is poignant and well said, Lisele. It is sad that those few fragments are all that is left of a life. Your point about keeping a diary is well taken...indeed, that's the only reason we've gotten to know Allie and her time and her concerns, worries, activities, and family. (and irritants: Durbin). The diary collection is an invaluable section of the Archives.