Dorothy (“Dot”) was my mother, and I'm her son, David (Dave).
On these pages are entries from diaries Dot kept in 1945 and 1946, at age 16-17, when she lived with her family in the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.
1945 had the same calendar as 2007, and so each day's entry was posted in “real-time” 2007 progressed.
Accompanying Dorothy's words in 1945 are recollections from her sister Louise (Sis). Louise wrote her remembrances in 2000-2001, just prior to her death in 2002.
I was fortunate to have talked with, and visited, my mother's good friend Sunny. Sunny lived in Florida, but passed away in 2010. She was wonderful and a great source of information.
I have also been including photos from the scrapbooks belonging to Dot and her sister, and whatever news of the day, artwork and video clips I can locate that might add context or meaning to a particular day's diary entry.
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In 1980, my late father sent me a few items he'd saved over the years after my mother's death in March of 1964. Among them were my mother's diaries from 1945 and '46, which I had no idea existed until then.
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 I was only 14 when she passed away, my memories of her are of a very general nature, and so the diaries were, and are a wonderful, unexpected gift.
The seed for this trip back in time was first planted in 1983. My father (Dave) presented me with a surprise: my mother's 1946 and 1945 daily diaries, which I hadn't even known the existence of.
I quickly thumbed through the yellowed pages: my mother's voice, in print, and it was fascinating. Most of the people she wrote about were total unknowns to me at that time. Herb, Hal, Jim, Helenand the placesParnell, the Stratford, Minuet'sall very foreign.
In the 1990s, I read Time and Again, by Jack Finney. In the story, a graphic artist is recruited by the government for an experiment in time travel. The theory is that by convincing oneself that one is in the past, not the present, one can make it so. Finney's novel is illustrated with photographs and with pictures he sketched during his fictional trip back in time to the 1880s.
Inspired by Finney's book, I transcribed the diaries' yellowed and brittled pages into a computer. I asked Dot's sister, my aunt Louise (“Sis”), if she would be interested in reading them and if she'd put her memories on paper.
Dot and Sis were very close then and throughout their married years. As you can quickly see, they spent a lot of time together during 1945 and '46 shopping, or going to movies or out for a Coke. Sometimes they would simply sit out on the front steps, talking, listening to records, and watching the world go by.
My aunt's remarks helped bring to life the months and days; her memory was truly remarkable considering that more than 50 years had gone by.
What I'm left with now is naturally very meaningful to me. The diaries may be interesting to local history buffs: places and things within the Englewood neighborhood restaurants, theatres, transportation, schools, etc., many of which have long since vanished and are all but forgotten. As the diary entries progressed, I heard from dozens of people who wanted to talk about the day's event or the Englewood neighborhood.
More than anything, this was a labor of love for me, Dot's son.
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Navigating the diary:
(Links to these other sections are located at the top of each page)
Today: the diary entry for whatever our current calendar date is. (The days of the week for 1946 are one-day off.)
Jan Feb Mar, etc.: Older diary entries are archived by the month and by year. Links are at the top of the page.
Scrapbook: A collection of Dot's friends and family and the places in her life.
News: the diary blog where I occasionally add some additional observations or post various updates. The blog has a message board where comments are welcome.
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 andbroken links. They are corrected as I become aware of them. So do make me aware!