Flash Narrative: Will Is All Puffed Up for Easter

Flash Narratives are a way to share my current work in progress, a book based on the Great Plains diaries of my great-aunt Hattie, which she kept from 1920-1957. Each flash narrative is no longer than 500 words. For more background information on the project, go here.

For this week’s flash narrative, I put together all of the Easter entries from 1920 through 1957, selected ones that most clearly show the themes that run through the diaries (food, transportation, family) and, for Hattie, the deepening sense of isolation, and then whittled the words to fewer than 500. I’ve also included two postcards—one sent from Hattie to her youngest sister, Louise (my grandmother), in 1909, and one sent from Louise to her mother in 1911.

Although I’ve excerpted quite heavily for the diary entries and added a conjunction or comma here and there, these words remain largely Hattie’s own. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

1909 Easter postcard, front
1909 Easter postcard, front Sent March 13, 1909 from Ames, Nebraska to Miss Louise Whiting, Spencer, Nebr.
1909 Easter postcard, back
Dear Sister Louise, I was so glad to get your card last evening. I am going to start home Monday. Hope all are well. Love from your sister, Harriet W.

1920: A beautiful Easter day but a little chilly. We had dinner with Bradstreets consisting of roast pork and dressing, potatoes, chicken and noodles, bread, butter, pickles, pineapple salad, mince pie and angel food cake, coffee, milk and hot water.

1922: Cloudy and a very cold northeast wind. Will and I walked to church this Easter morning and walked back.

1925:  Early morning was nice, but at about 8 a.m. the wind started to blow from the southwest and got quite strong before noon, windy all day. Had dinner at Dave’s place after Mass, went to a ball game, and at 6:30 p.m. went to a very nice play given by the school, and then we came home with Rena and the boys. Had car trouble so didn’t get here until 2 a.m. We all got scared when the car popped, and Rena jumped out first before the car even stopped. She got quite a jar.

1930: Nell, Ben, Will and I went to Tate’s place to meet Mrs. Tate, who used to be Eva Rothley of Dallas, South Dakota. Will was best man at their wedding, so he feels puffed up about it. We talked about school, politics and nearly everything else.

1942: Will chored in the evening and looked at cows in the Model A. John Sundquist came in his wagon and got his groceries. I got the meals, lay down in p.m. and played solitaire, listened to the radio, wrote in the diary and read some this Easter Sunday.

1945: Flurries began near noon and fell on and off all afternoon, but never for too long. I never ate candy this Lent, but it was a temptation as I kept it on hand.

1951: Last night was a beautiful moonlit nit. Will took me to Mass, and he took a magazine and waited in the car.

1955: I roasted a duck and made dressing and sugarless gelatin with fruit, and we went to Furreys where we had a  delicious dinner of mashed potatoes, gravy, fried chicken, dressing, duck, homemade bread and butter, lettuce salad, pickles, strawberries and preserves, homemade ice-cream, a birthday cake of three layers with white marble and devil’s food for Harry’s birthday next week. I got sick at my stomach and had to come home early.

1957: Clarence’s boys, Chuck, Roger and Billy, hunted Easter eggs here at our house, and I wished their folks would come over. Will cleaned the dishes and swept the floors. He and I played pitch and casino in the afternoon and again in the evening until 10 p.m. Billy brought lemon and chocolate pies to Will, so he had a nice lunch in the afternoon and again before bedtime. Our Easter eats weren’t much, but I fried pork chops for noon lunch and steak in the evening. I wished all the time that someone would come, but no one did. I guess I have to quit wishing for someone to come, and get a television.

1911 Easter postcard, front
Postmarked March, 30, 1911, from Louise, age 8, in Spencer, Nebraska, to her mother, Mrs. Ed Whiting, who was visiting her sons in Carter, South Dakota
1911 Easter postcard, back
Dear Mother, How are you getting along? When are you coming home? We are all going up to Miss Ridgeway Box Social tomorrow night. From Louise

7 thoughts on “Flash Narrative: Will Is All Puffed Up for Easter

  1. How very lovely. What a treat to have something so precious. The thought of them having car trouble in 1925 gave me shivers. No cell phones, minimal tools, and I am assuming no gas station up the street! Oh my…thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much! It is a treat, and I hope not to take it for granted. Even after she and their neighbors started using cars on a regular basis, it seemed they were always breaking down or getting stuck in the mud. Some people continued to use horses for that reason well into the 1930s.

    • Kelsey, I feel the same way! Also, the particular time periods that Hattie lived through saw sooo much change and progress. She went from having been born in Dakota Territory to seeing the use of the automobile and telephones and, eventually, electricity. Amazing.

  2. Think about the time span of these entries, almost 40 years…

    “It’s all in the details,” they say. I love this one: “Will took me to Mass, and he took a magazine and waited in the car.”

    If Hattie were alive today, she would be blogging.

    • You are so right! Hattie would be a terrific blogger. I love the waiting in the car with a magazine detail, too.

      I wonder often of why she continued to write and for whom she was writing. She wrote for herself, first, of course, but her entries definitely have the sense that she had a wider if undefined audience in mind.

  3. Uncle Bill was very faithful about taking Aunt Hattie to Mass & he would always wait outside for her. He was buried from the Catholic Church though,& the Priest who had the funeral told our mother he and Uncle Bill had come to an understanding about his religion.

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