Note: For background information regarding Flash Narratives in this series go here. The following flash narrative, in which I try to convey both a sense of her ordinary work and Hattie’s diary voice and expressions (“switched them out dry,” for example, or naming a sow Floyd Wood), is based on several of her spring entries from the 1920s and 1930s, such as March 20, 1933, and March 26, 1921.


March 20, 1933: It Is Now Spring

A bright, nice, chilly day and a north breeze melted much of the snow so that we could hear the streams trickle here and there all day long. The dish towels I washed yesterday froze on the line, but the wind switched them out dry, except where the clothes pins clung. The ice went out of the creek last evening and broke seven pilings at the bridge near here, so the trains transferred passengers and baggage at noon.

Last night Floyd Wood had 15 little pigs but lay on some, leaving only nine alive. I tried to watch them today so the old black sow wouldn’t lie on many more, but it is a task. In the morning I set five hens, one on the front porch, one in the corn bin, and three on the ground in the north-east corner of the barn. I got a dinner of boiled beef and soup and lemon pie. In the afternoon, I started to sew tobacco sacks to put over lard jars. Then I burned my hands and arms with lye, trying to make soap, and the lye ate out part of the metal roaster, so I threw it all out.

Will dug post holes and put some time in on the new chicken house and drove broncos and fed the stock alfalfa and did the rest of the chores. We listened to the radio and read papers in the evening. Joseph Zangara, who attempted to kill President Elect Roosevelt and shot Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago in Miami, Florida on Feb. 15th—and Cermak died on March 6th—was electrocuted in Florida this morning at 10 a.m.

Last night after supper I bathed in the first rain water of the season from our barrel. It is now spring, so meadowlarks sing in the snow.

Mug shot of Giuseppe Zangara

Mug shot of Giuseppe Zangara