Do teens keep diaries in this day and age?

Oct 17, 2019 | 0 comments

Harry Albert Espy c. 1890

I’ve been re-reading my grandfather’s 1890 diary in an effort to corroborate a few facts for a book I’m working on.  What I really need is the 1892 volume which I think I turned over to the Washington State Historical Society some thirty years ago with the rest of the family papers.  How this 1890 volume was overlooked, I don’t know.  It’s not the only such item, of course — it’s a big house with lots of hidey-holes and, though I need to gather up some recently discovered bits and pieces and take them to Tacoma, for now I’m enjoying the opportunity to meet my then thirteen-year-old grandfather.

His entries were brief and, unfortunately, were in pencil which is fast fading.  Fortunately for posterity, though, Willard made a copy of Papa’s 1893 diary — laboriously typed on his old manual typewriter.  I should do the same for this earlier volume, before it becomes completely illegible.  Not that the entries were earth-shaking in any way.  But they gave a clear picture of life in Oysterville 130 years ago.  By way of example, here are a few entries by Harry Albert Espy, age 13:

March 1 – I paid J.P. Musgrave $1.00 for which I got a receipt.  I now have a bank account with Mamma: Credits $26.00 Debit $1.00.

March 2 – I went to prayer meeting this evening.  The subject for this time is:  Will God accept my excuses.

Oysterville School 1875-1907

March 3 – I borrowed $00.05 from Ferdinand [Ferdinand Nelson, a schoolmate] this morning to buy peanuts.
At noon just as I was coming out of the School House, Henry Olsen let me have $1.75 to send and get a years subscription of the
Youths Companion for him.

March 4 -Papa borrowed $.05 from me today. [ marked Paid.]
I paid Mamma $.50 this evening on my debt of $1.00..  I now owe $.50.  Ed [his older brother] and I made $1.35 today.  I got $.65 of it.
I did not lock the chickens up last night and one is gone.

March 5 – There were three horses kept in our barn last night.  One belonged to Jacobson and two to Tinker.
Ed took five men to the terminus
[in Nahcotta] this evening.  He received $3.00.  I got $1.00 as I did his work for him.

March 6 – The hen that was missing Tuesday came to feed this morning.
The three horses that were kept in our barn Tuesday night were kept there last night also.

H.A. Espy’s 1890 Diary

And so go the entries  through the spring and early summer.  He speaks of “killing a beef” and “killing 2 ewes” and of going to Astoria where he purchased “a suit, a pair of shoes, a hat, cravat, two overshirts, pair of suspenders and a pair of drawers for $15.”    (I can’t help but wonder if those are the clothes he is wearing in his 1890 photograph.I

All very interesting — more than I remember my own pathetic diary entries being.  I wonder if teens keep diaries these days.  And, if they do, how different their entries must be!


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