GRANDMA'S DIARIES • December 1952: California, He We Come


Grandma and Grandpa pack their suitcases and along with Wayne, Geraldine, Larry and Linda drive across country to visit Alberta, Albert, and Billy Johnston in L.A. Grandma was always an inveterate traveler. If any of us said ,"go," she was packing a bag and ready to go adventuring. Grandma did not take a break from her record keeping while on vacation. She notes all the expenses for the trip and plots the family's progress along Route 66. It is hard to imagine 67 years later how our expenses for a cross county drive would have increased.  Grandma and Grandpa will not return home until January 1953. Grandma and I will see you then.  I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. 

Monday, Dec. 1, 1952–We finally got the stove in the living room ready. We both went to Hillsboro. Carl got necessary stove pipe. I took two dresses, my sweater and Carl's suit to the cleaner. Wayne and Jake (Mutchler) came after the calf and took it to be butchered. He weighed about 500 pounds. Linda is better. She eats good. Bought Wayne a compass for his car for a Christmas gift.

Sunday, Dec. 7, 1952–We went to Wayne Knodle's for Jesse's (Newport, Grandma's brother) birthday dinner and a good visit with Jesse. His health is good, but his memory poor. Eleven years ago we ate birthday dinner with Jesse, and Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1952–Geraldine called early and said Wayne would be ready to leave for California Saturday morning. I was stumped, but told her I would be ready. How I hurried!

Thursday, Dec. 11, 1952–I am hurrying so much I can't even sleep.

Friday, Dec. 12, 1952–Carl went to Raymond to get $90 for our trip. We went to Litchfield and took 15 dozen eggs at 48 cents and on to Hillsboro. We got my gray dress and Carl's zipper jacket which we had cleaned. Charles Campbell came at three to get his final instructions, then we took our packed suitcases to Wayne's. After a lot of re-arranging they got all in. Merles came at night and took my poinsettia and African violets and planter. 

Saturday, Dec. 13, 1952–Light rain. We got over to Wayne's at 5 a.m. Linda had thrown up a time or two before we started at 5:20. Geraldine took a coffee can along, and Linda had to use it off and on all day. We drove to Tulsa on Route 66, 514 miles. Lodging $14.28. Eats $2.40+$3.98+$7.24. (News from home: Moray Ward says they had snow and rain these two days. Temperature around 20 degrees.)

Sunday, Dec. 14, 1952–Beautiful day. Left Tulsa 6:30. Drove to Tucumcari 503 miles. Lodging $13.77. Eats $3.52+$4.48+$6.02. Went through Bristow, Amarillo, Elk City. Crossed into Texas at Erie.

Monday, Dec. 15, 1952–Nice weather. Very little snow anywhere. At Santa Rosa we ate breakfast. It was 30 degrees. Drove from Tucumcari through Edgewood, Albuquerque at 8:35 a.m. Grants, Gallup 11:30, got an oil and grease change. Holbrook 1:50 p.m. Had to buy an oil cap here. Flagstaff 4:20 p.m. Williams 5:15 p.m. where we took Route 89 to Prescott. Arrived at 7:15. We had driven 613 miles. Lodging $10. Eats $2.91+$5.48+$2.07. Larry was sick. No supper. We stayed at Buena Vista Lodge.

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 1952–Nice weather. Left Prescott at 4:45; 21 miles of mountain curves, couldn't see the side of the road, too dark. Ate breakfast at People's Valley. Entered California at 9:15 a.m. Went through Indio, Riverside at 11:30. Got to Alberta's at 3 p.m., 2,052 miles on trip. Eats $4.70+$5.80. Expenses for trip: eats: $48.60, Lodging: $38.05, Gas and oil: $40.85. Carl's part: $21.92.

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 1952–Rainy. (Home news: the man on Zimmerman's place is having a public sale today.) Albert took Wayne's to the beach. Billy went along. Alberta took Geraldine and me to Torrence in p.m. Billy had to have a gift for his Christmas party Friday.

Thursday, Dec. 18, 1952–Sun shone fitfully. Albert and Carl stayed home waiting for Billy to return from kindergarten. The rest went to the airport. Wayne's to ask about their trip to Palo Alto to see Helen Wilson. I asked about a trip home for Carl and me. After Jan. 15 we need not call more than two days in advance when we decide to go home. 

Friday, Dec. 19, 1952–Some rain and chilly. Geraldine, Wayne, Carl, Linda, Albert and I went to Lomita for groceries and to mail some letters. I needed envelopes. After noon Billy went to kindergarten, and Alberta and I visited. The rest went to Long Beach. Larry and Linda got shirts with "Long Beach" printed on them. We could hardly take time to eat dinner as we listened to TV, the Tim McCoy Story. Alberta warned us there was seeds in our apricots, Ha! Wayne called Carl "Blanche Calot." Also the songs by Lawrence Welk were so nice.

Saturday, Dec. 20, 1952–Cloudy and some rain. Carl, Larry and I stayed at Albert's. The rest started to Claude Johnston's, but they never got there. They got into a bad hail storm in Hollywood. Somewhere in L.A. they had a cyclone. Carl, Larry and I watched television. Larry got peeved when after four hours I made him turn it off. I washed undies and hose.

Sunday, Dec. 21, 1952–Nice day. Albert and Alberta had been invited to a reception at the next door neighbor, George Floyd, at 3 p.m. Alberta took us for drive around Palos Verdis peninsula. Beautiful. We saw the light house which we saw about 14 years ago, the first time we came out here. After lunch all but Albert and Alberta took off for Long Beach. We sorta got balled up going and went to San Pedro, but we did get to Long Beach, went to the beach there to the amusement pier. Linda and Billy rode the ferris wheel and Wayne, Linda, Linda, and Billy rode boats and Wayne and Larry rode the cars that bump. (News from home: Leroy Mutchler, polio patient at St. John's in Springfield, died at 12:45 a.m.)

Tuesday, Dec. 23, 1952–Nice day. We sure see a lot of wrestling on T.V. I am so hoarse, I just can't talk. (news from home: Leroy Mutchler's funeral at Bass. Burial at Wares Grove.)

Wednesday, Dec. 24, 1952–Not so clear, but Albert finished some work and quit about 2 p.m. Geraldine, Carl and Alberta went after the turkey, $9.90 that Carl bought. Alberta got turned around in Torrance and got lost. Ha! The kiddies are having a great time in the canyons. Larry rides George. He is George Floyd's horse.

Thursday, Dec. 25, 1952–Alberta and Geraldine planned last night to hold the three kiddies back until everybody is ready for the first rush for the presents under the tree. What excitement! Wow! Billy got a bicycle, etc. Larry, a lariat, etc. Linda, a Tiny Tear doll, etc. Albert, a name plate for mail box and an electric razor. Carl, a shirt and socks. I got ironing board cover and pad and a blouse. Alberta got slips, etc. Geraldine, hose, etc. Wayne, fountain pen, etc. Dinner at two.

Friday, Dec. 26, 1952–Clear. Albert went to work. The rest of us went to Knotts Berry Farm known as a ghost town. Ate sandwiches and boysenberry turnovers. All but Alberta rode on a train, five minutes for 50 cents. Carl and I saw a lot of things we hadn't seen for years–livery stables, stage coaches, saloons and on and on.

Tucked in items in the back of the diary–1952 quilts: Edith Best, $4.25; Dorothy Ward, $5; Mary Nimmons, $5; Florence Robinson, $3; three baby quilts for Mrs. Busby $3.60; Edith Best, $3.50; Mildred Taylor, two quilts, $6; May Norvell, $7.20; Blanche Rogers, $3.20; Eliza Turner, Naomi Stein, $2.50.

Grandma also tucked in several newspaper clippings: "Farmer Sells His 472 Hogs for $57, 871" and "Clayton a gentle Percheron, was able to pull a 5,000 pound load without any seeming strain."

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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