Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop: The Manchester Diary Project

A newly found diary in a local antique shop
finds a temporary home in my possession.

 "This Book Belongs To
Eileen Langmayd
Date December 25, 1934
The Gift of Mildred, Leona & Carroll"
Inside I found three letters tucked, a photo, and dried flower petals. The diary itself is in good shape. It's leather is soft and buttery from age. It's papers are yellowing, but the handwriting is easily readable and the ink and pencil are strong.
"Dear Aunt Maria
I wonder what you are doing tonight
I am eating butter balls
I got gum
 all over my face and in my hair today
some mess
I went to SS this noon
the radio is coming good lately
Alice Marian has the scarlet fever
Aunt Flo comes down every night
Don't work too hard and get sick
Morris has a new German Police dog
good night

Eileen Langmayd"
A letter presumably written by Eileen Langmayd of Manchester,
NH when she was a child. (I am unsure why it is tucked into the diary she wrote as a teen.)

Finding diaries in antique shops is becoming a passion of mine. The Kennebunkport diary that I have written about extensively in this blog was a total mystery. I needed to figure out from where the diary came and who wrote it. That diary written by Ed Miller remains in my office. During my "break" next summer, I will try to reach out to those in Maine in his community to see if I can give the diary a good home.

Photo presumed to be of Eileen Langmayd
Unlike the Maine diary, clues are prevalent in this one written by a New Hampshire native. I am most fortunate that the author carefully inscribed her diary with her name. A quick Internet search of Eileen Langmayd brought me to the graduation program of Manchester High School Central. Our diarist was graduated from the school in 1935. I will continue transcribing her words and imagine that the ease of my initial search is likely indicative of the ease with which I will dig up more information about this woman.

The Kennebunkport diary is serving as a lesson in close reading. I hope to develop a unit for my high school students that shows how that by using close reading, one can pick up clues to provide context and understanding. The first stop for my New Hampshire diary is an elementary school, where the fourth graders are learning about local history. The diary will serve to bring history to life and make it more immediate for the school children.

I sit on the couch now, sharing this new diary with my father-in-law. He has wondered aloud if the diary mentions the rumblings of war. I've only been through a few pages, but knowing the diary runs from 1935-1939, I realize that he has a wonderful point. This diary, like the last I studied, will surely highlight some remarkable events. I am looking forward to sharing the adventure with you. 

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