Music & Dressmaking, Singing as I Sew: A Soprano’s Aria Chapter 30

Sat Feb 1 – Nothing particular to chronicle

Sun “ 2 – Mrs Miller Essie & Herbie came over to look at a house and call on us. Lolita and Charlie also came had a very pleasant time.

Mon “ 3 – Eilenes birthday J [Jessie] & I were almost ready to go to town when Mrs Fryer came out to be fitted. We then went down to Berkeley and had lunch then to town. Did a lot of shopping got my new glasses and came home. J went around by Davies and got my Govt check for $15.00 which they keep sending to Hayward and out to our old address in Castro Valley. But I get them which is the main thing. Eilene was here when we got back and had waited quite a while for us. She was kindly entertained by our neighbor Mrs DeGiers. Jessie got a telegram that said Syl would be in S. F. at 10 this same evening. Jessie went with Eilene and Leo to the City to meet her returning soldier boy. It is now 11 oclock. I have been out and mailed a letter to Milo in ans. to one I got from him today and now to bed.

Tue Feb 4 – I did an immense washing was through when Jessie & Syl came home. He looks well and happy to be back. Jessie is radiant.

Wed Feb 5 – J & I go shopping and learn the value of a dollar these anti-bellum [After war] days. [After WWI price controls were lifted and inflation took off] Syl got a nice new hat at the same bad prices as before the armistice. Uncle Sam isnt clothing him now. He likes civilian styles and cloths better. We all go for a walk.

Thu. 6 – Spent the day in cutting and fitting my pongee skirt, and in evening go to see Mrs Miller Ray and Rose with Jessie and Sylvester. It was raining I read “The Yellow Typhoon” on the way. [By American novelist Harold MacGrath]

Fri Feb 7 – Mrs Fryer didn’t come for her things today. I have a very bad sore eye this morning. Cant sew or read much. Treating it with witch hazel and Boric acid solution.

Sat. “ 8 – Eye still sore. Jessie and Syl do the Sat. marketing and then go to S. F. to see the folks on both sides over there, so I am alone awhile.

Sun Feb 9 – I was half awake and thought I was at home in Neb in bed and there came several earthquake shocks and I wasn’t afraid. It was pouring down rain. Finally when I really awoke to the fact that I was on the Pacific Coast I was more alarmed about the shock, but guess it was only a dream. I arose at 10 bathed my eye which is quite sore yet, got my breakfast did up my morning work looked the paper over the best I could and now at 12.30 am bringing this record up to date. No one has appeared to break my solitude. The sun has come out and a brisk wind is blowing. We have had several letters from Milo lately saying among other things that he had received his Christmas box and that he was coming home soon he thought. Good, fine on everything.

Feb. 20 — Gave Jessie $10.00 a day or so ago gave her $5.00 and when my $75.00 came all at once on or about the 1st of Feb I gave her $20.00. I also spent about 1.00 for groceries. I went to two Wed morning meetings of the Choral Club and enjoyed them very much. I will have to have my glasses refitted. Returned Irenes dress that I mended and had a good visit with her. Got some silk thread to make up Josephines new green silk dress. Syl went up to Willows to run a tractor plow in the rice fields and we are all alone again. Am very tired of the loneliness. My heart is heavy and I want my babies back again O cruel fate. Went alone to the P. on the 17 to see the drawing for the auto. There was a wonderful crowd out. It was a huge success but I did not get the auto. I got my 15 from Milos allotment this morning Feb 20 and also learned from the Red Cross that I was not entitled to an allowance from the Govt. Its me for doing without it then. I am to see the clinic about my eyes soon. Spring is here in all its Golden Glory but some how my heart fails to respond. I have finished my pongee skirt and it looks very well. I am now embroidering a corset cover.

Feb 21 Fri – Eilene came over with Leo for us to keep over Washington’s birthday while they went on a hike. J & Syl took him with them the next day…

Sat Feb 22 – …when they went to Hayward Their hostess the Durant girls failed to keep their appointment and meet them with the auto so they came home in time for a dinner of steak and potatoes at home. I had sewed some on Josephines dress and kept the house in order when Mrs. Smith and Vestina came. I had a pleasant chat with them and after they left did quite a was. In the night it began to rain and so I got up and brought them in.

Sun Feb 23 – I got up rather early and washed up last nights dishes got breakfast and after it was over did my ironing. There was quite a lot of it and I finished it all. J & S went to look at a house and I gave the baby Leo a bath and he is now sleeping sweetly. I tidied up things and am now at 3.30 writing up my Diary. The day is sunny and showery by turns, cool and very pleasant. God is every where though some times through our blindness we fail to see his face. I am rather tired and a little melancholy which I try to fight against. I suppose I am to get dinner and I had rather rest. (Later in the day) Eilene came and said she never saw Leo looking so sweet. She took him home with her.

Last week of Feb. spent quite as usual at home at Jessies sewing on Mrs Fryers work attending Wed morning rehersals and helping on housework, etc… I went to clinic and didn’t get any satisfaction or advice they were so busy with people who were really poor and unfortunate that I decided not to bother them again Jessie and I went to visit Mrs Westlund in Castro Valley and had a very good time. The weather was rainy but we were met in Hayward with a car and didn’t have to wait long. We called on Mrs. Hasenbalk and found the old woman suffering with a very painful leg. We also called on Mrs Smith by the V. C. about this time. Took crocheting along and listened to some very good phonograph music. Mrs Smith and Vestina called us a couple of times. I did not put down the doilies which are unimportant any way

Mar 4 – Lolitas 18 birthday gave her a pretty guest towel. She came over in evening and brought us a piece of her birthday cake. Was sad because I couldnt go over.

Mar 5 — Usual Wed morning rehersal. Began work on Stabat Mater which the Berkeley Oratorio will give Good Friday. Went to Fryers to get thimble and more sewing.

6 – 7 – 8 — Usual routine of work.

Mar 9 – Lolita and Charley came over and found me alone they got a pie and some Hot tamales and we had a fine dinner. J & Syl were away. Lolita was not very well.

10 – Syls birthday. I bought him a necktie which Lolita had seen in the window the day before and considered very pretty. Then I went over and met Allie and he took me way down the peninsula and showed me how to run the car. I had a most delightful time. When I returned Jessie and Mrs Miller were getting up a fine dinner for the birthday so I had quite a full day. He was pleased and gave me a kiss for his birthday present. He is a good son-in-law.

Mar 11 – Mrs Fryer came and we did some fitting. She took back some of the girls ginghams for a woman to do who she said would do them for nothing. I told her I couldn’t sew for nothing for I had my living to make. Gave her my bill.

Mar 12 – Usual Wed morning rehersal. Getting on fine. Called at St Marks for money for sewing. Got 20. Very glad to get it; as I was crossing street I met Joe who inquired after every body in “his” usual neighborly way Lolita came the day before. She was quite sick and we are to keep her till she is able to go to work again. We had a pleasant time the rest of the week. It seemed nice to have her with me again. I fixed her underskirt for her. She learned to crochet a pretty new pattern for a camisole.

Mar 15 — Eilene came over on Saturday and got her Georgette waist that I had hem stitched for her and Lolita went back with her Allie & Dewey drove the Madera and got Uncle Petty.

Mar 16 – I think it was this day that J. S. and I went to the 1st B [Baptist] Church in Berkeley. It was rainy and the services dull but the church seems to be a pleasant place for the Young people of the U. to foregather to worship.

Mar 17 – this was the monthly drawing at the Pantages. We all went but as usual failed to get the auto. Had a good time nevertheless.

Mar 18 – Went to S. F. with Jessie. Stopped at Emporium and saw Lolita. She told me of money being missing and suspicion being directed on her. It happened when she was home sick and while it worried her terribly I told her to stick to work and every thing would come out all right. I was so sorry for her. They had cross questioned her till she was pale and nervous. I stayed with her till Jessie came from home on Oak St. She said Eilene had cut her hand very badly and she must go over to help. It was Lolitas second day at work since her sick spell and she was hardly able to stand it but while I pitied her I knew it would not do for her to quit as long as the question of the missing $50.00 remained unsolved. We waited at the Ferry Bldg awhile for D. nd A. to show up in their Jitney and when they did not we came on over to Berkeley. I stopped at the St called Bancroft Way and walked over to Dacia to Unity Hall when the Berkeley Oratorio Society meets to reherse the Stabat Mater. [Editor’s note: this redwood constructed building still stands and I attended meetings there as a teen in the 60’s]

Unitarian Church Berkeley aka Unity Hall

I was the first one there and the janitor showed me the way to the rooms where we practice. I had been there once before when we were rehersing for the Road to Victory Pageant, but I had forgotten which entrance we used. It is on a corner and a very dark gloomy place of a rainy evening before the lights are on inside. However I went in, he lighted up and I sat on a couch by the big fireplace crocheting while the singers came straggling in one by one. Mr. Steindorf did not come but we had a good rehersal nevertheless led by Mr. Redfield with his wife at the piano.

Wed Mar 19 – I went to the Ebell club house in Oakland as usual and worked hard at the music being rehersed for the Stabat Mater and a program to be given the convention of womens clubs soon. A lady next to me gave me a compliment which warmed my heart. We were speaking a difficult piece. She said “You have such a lovely voice You ought not have any trouble with it.” I was astonished for I was led to believe by Madam Pres. That I dident have any such thing. I thanked her. It helped a lot. I went over to the hotel and had my second surprise. Irene said I was to have the kiddies dresses to make after all. That Joe had said he didn’t want anyone to make them for nothing and he wanted me to have the work anyway. While she was out he came in, He asked me if I was going to do the childrens sewing. I said Mrs Fryer had said he said I should do it. And he said “that goes then.” You have always done their sewing very nicely. I let her attend to it for me. And so it was settled. He went out. Mrs. Fryer came back and I cut and sewed all afternoon. Hurried home, and got Syls supper.

Mar 20 – 21 – 22 – busy days sewing.

Sun “ 23 – Jessie Sylvester and I started out to look at a house, met Vestina Smith and her mother on a similar quest looked at several, visited the piano store unique in its way from others Ive seen, and went on over to Melrose to see Rays family. Met them all and also Mr and Mrs Fitch and their own and foster children. She is a typical mother and take it easy. Ray was making 3 little white cribs for his own and the Fitches babies use. We had ice cream for dinner which was too chilling for me so I cooked something hot when I got back home and felt better after eating it.

Mar 24 Mon – Washed cloths.

25 Tue – Rehearsal of Stabat Mater at Unity Hall.

26 Wed — Morning Rehersal. Called at St Marks. Jessie came in, stayed a few minutes and then we went shopping.

I bought me a white dress. It is very pretty. Applied for a dressmakers discount at Kahus. Came home tired but triumphant. “Music and dressmaking, Singing as I sew, I begin to feel at home here, a part of the intricate activities of this wonderful string of cities around the San Frisco bay.

Mar 27 – Cut out bloomers etc. In the evening we went to the big civic auditorium in Oakland to hear VilHjalmmer pronounced Halmur Stefensen lecture on his experiences in the far north.

It was most interesting and instructive and so simply and naturally told that it was a source of wonder to hear him tell so calmly of living for 5 years with the Esquimos as one of them and off the country even as they do. Hunting, fishing, sealing, white Polar bear and fox caribou and seal it was all one to them. A slight youthful modest man with light brown hair large straight forward honest blue eyes. Kindly nature unassuming thoroughly equipped with a fine education he has added materially to the knowledge of almost every branch of learning. He has brought the Arctic nearer to us than it has ever been brought before.

Oakland 29, 1919 Oakland Tribune

Mar 28 – Washed cloths

29 – Crocheted an edge on a handkerchief. Feeling bum. Sat around fire most all day. Vestina called for a lamp. They have mooved across the street. J was in city all well at home, Lolita has her cash box back which goes to show they have found her innocent at the Emporium I’m so glad its cleared up at last. Eilenes hand is better. Allie is at work in a garage. Dewey is overhauling his car. Leo is growing very fast.

Mar 30 Sun – Jessies 26 birthday. They went to church came home baked a birthday cake had dinner. Went to see Ray and Rose and have not returned.. It is now 8 oclock in the evening. The weather is beautiful and mild. We have had so many cold rains. I am feeling better today. I had a letter from Milo about two weeks ago he had written it so long ago that it wasn’t very newsy. He didn’t expect to get away from France for a while probably until spring. He was doing nurse duty and said it was a great life if you didn’t weaken.

Mar 31 – Jessie went to S. F. to help Eilene wash.

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All RIghts Reserved

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