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.
Realizing, in 2017, that 2018 would be lining-up with 1945's calendar, I began updating the pages I'd posted in 2007 and, once again, posting a “today” page that matched that of 2018. I'll be continuing to do so during 2019 as well.
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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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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. But I didn't know what to do with the information.
Then in the 1990s, I read a novel named Time and Again. In the Jack Finney novel, a graphic artist is recruited by the government for an experiment in time travel. The theory was that by convincing oneself, thru imagination and surroundings, that one is in the past, not the present, a person can journey back to the desired time and place. Finney's book is illustrated with photographs and sketches created during the fictional trip to 1880s New York City.
Inspired, I took to transcribing my mom's diaries' yellowed and brittled pages into digital Word files. Dot's sister agreed to read them and put her memories on paper. 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 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 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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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.