Hello. Dorothy (“Dot”) was my mother, and I'm her son, David.
Actual time travel, I'm afraid, was not going to happen in my lifetime, so I've attempted here to create the next best thing. This virtual trip back in time will take you to my mother's day-to-day life during the years 1945 and '46—a short time before I came into her world. More than anything, this was a labor of love for me.
Dot 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 project began when I realized that 1945's calendar was going to match that of 2007. I decided to share the diary entries online by posting each day individually, in “real-time,” so to speak, as the diary year 1945 and the year 2007 progressed.
Eventually, every entry from my mother's diaries were online, and have remained so since 2007.
Recently, I saw that 2018 would be a match for 1945's calendar as well. So during this year of 2018, I'll be posting, again in real time, her daily entries in real time.
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Accompanying my mother's own words are contemporary recollections from her younger sister (my aunt) Louise (Sis), which she wrote prior to passing away in 2002. In addition to Dot's sister, my mother's best friend, Sunny, and her husband Bob graciously shared their memories with me as well.
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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Background information: In 1980, my father sent me some things of my mother's he'd saved over the years. Among those things were my mother's diaries, which I had no idea existed until then.
I regret that 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.
Most of the people she wrote about were total unknowns to me. Friends like Herb, Hal, Jim, Helenand the placesParnell, the Stratford, Minuet'sall mysterious.
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 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. 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.
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 are all but forgotten.
I have heard from dozens of 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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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.