Time travel, I regret to say, will probably not be possible at least in my lifetime. So I've attempted here to create possibly the next best thing.
This virtual trip back in time has taken me back to mother, Dorothy's, day-to-day life during the years 1945 and '46—three years before her only son David (that's me) arrived.
Dot, as she called herself, wrote her diaries while she was 16 and 17 years old, when she lived with her family in the middle-class Englewood neighborhood, in the heart of Chicago's south side. The war-weary world was entering a transitional period during 1945-46, going from years of death and destruction to a more promising and peaceful, yet very challenging, era. Likewise, Dorothy was transitioning from her Englewood High School days to adulthood.
To the north of Englewood were Chicago's stock yards, and Comiskey Park, where the White Sox played. To the east was the University of Chicago, and Jackson Park, which fifty years earlier was the site of the Columbian Exposition. Downtown was a short “L” ride away. Streetcars could take you just about anywhere within the city. Car travel was at a premium, due to war rationing of fuel and rubber for tires, among other things.
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This labor of love project began in late 2006, when I realized the 2007 calendar would match that of 1945. I posted each daily diary entry in “real-time,”as the year 1945 (and 2007) progressed. The entries have been online since then, and were updated throughout 2018 and 2019.
Accompanying my mother's own words are recollections from her younger sister (my aunt) Louise (Sis), about the events of 1945, which she wrote a year or so prior to passing away, in 2002. I've added my own comments for the 1946 pages. My mom's best friend, Sunny, and her husband Bob graciously shared their memories with me as well, when I met them at their home in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Maps, clips of movies Dot saw, news and newsreel footage, plus sports and sometimes even the weather, add (I hope) a little more context. There are biographies and photos of my mother's friends and family, plus information about various places within Chicago and Dot's south side Englewood neighborhood.
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Starting in mid-2020, I began supplementing Dot's diary with an autobiography my father, Dave, wrote during his later years. Published in parts, it begins here.
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Background information: In 1980, my father, David, sent me some things of my mother's he'd saved over the years. Among them were my mother's 1945 & 1946 diaries. I'd had no idea they existed.
Most of the people she wrote about were at first unknown to me. Friends like Herb, Hal, Jim, Helenand the placesParnell, the Stratford, Minuet'sall were mysteries yet to be unraveled. I suddenly had a lot of information about my mom's teenage years, and wanted to do something with it, but I wasn't sure what.
Then about ten years later, I read Jack Finney's novel, Time and Again, in which a modern day graphic artist is granted an opportunity by the US government to take part in a secret time travel experiment. Thru imagination and exacting recreations of environment, it is theorized that a person could journey back thru the years to a specific time and place. The book is illustrated with photographs and sketches the subject has taken and drawn during his visits to 1880s New York City.
Inspired by all that, I began transcribing what my mom had written into digital Word files. Dot's sister (my aunt Louise) agreed to read her diary entries and then see what she could recollect, and what context she could contribute. Her comments helped bring to life the months and days; her memory was truly remarkable considering that more than 50 years had gone by. The two were very close then and remained so afterwards.
They spent a lot of time together and with friends, shopping, going to movies, or stopping by a diner for a Coke. Sometimes they would simply sit out on the front steps, talking, listening to records, and watching the world go by.
The diaries may be interesting to local history buffs, too: places and things within the Englewood neighborhood restaurants, theatres, transportation, schools, etc., many of which have long since vanished and some that are all but forgotten.
Regrettably, I have no films or audio recordings of my mother, except for a one-minute souvenir record she and my father made in about 1946, before they were married.
Since first sharing my mother's diaries online, I have heard from many people who wanted to talk about the days' events or the Englewood neighborhood. Please feel free to email your thoughts and observations.
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I'm indebted to everyone who contributed information, memories, and photos during the course of this project. In particular, Dan Malloy, my uncle Lou (“Son’), my good friend Gloria Bowman, the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn, the late Hal Totten, Sunny and Bob Karpus, and particularly my aunt Louise, aka “Sis.”
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Navigating the diary: Links to the diary entries for each month are located at the top of every page.
Scrapbook: A collection of Dot's friends and family and the places in her life.
Send: you can “Email this page”. Recommend the diary by forwarding the URL to a friend.
Email: comments, suggestions, and memories are appreciated. I'll be adding or modifying this page and others as needed. Please forgive my various grammatical errors, rambling text and any broken links that you may come across. They are corrected as I become aware of them. I appreciate being made aware.