GRANDMA'S DIARIES • January 1953 Begins In California


Grandma saved several items in her 1953 diary. She listed the top stories of the past year. Number 1–Eisenhower's election as the first Republican president in 20 years. Number 2 cites the United States first successful H-bomb test. Next is the unsuccessful peace talks that mean the Korean Conflict enters its third year. Number 4 is the Supreme Court's ruling that the seizure of the steel plants is illegal. Elizabeth II becoming the British queen upon the death of her father, King George VI ranks number 5. I admit I have no idea what the next event's importance is. Captain Carlsen makes a heroic stand on the Flying Enterprise. Time for a little Google research. Number 7 notes a plane crash that closes the Newark airport. Iran breaking all ties with Britain comes in at number 8. Number 9 is prison riots throughout the U.S. The tenth event that resonated world wide is King Farouk ouster from the Egyptian throne. Grandma also notes that a meteor "streaked across the sky over the San Francisco Bay . . . and plunged into the ocean causing a shock wave that residents within a 100 mile area reported feeling an earthquake."

Thursday, Jan. 1, 1953–Clear in Rolling Hills, CA. Wayne, Geraldine, Larry and Albert went to the Rose Parade. They left home before 6 a.m. Parade started at 9 a.m. Linda stayed with the rest of us, and we made her dolly a dress. They got back at 12:30 and were ready to leave for home by 1:40. They got to Indio that night. 

Saturday, Jan. 3, 1953–Another nice day. Albert mowed their yard. Got his hair cut for $1.50. Billy's bicycle has had a flat tire. Albert got it fixed. We went shopping late.  Waynes got to Pecos, TX. Drove 497 miles. Stopped at Fort Bliss to see Darrell Joyce (Howy's hired hand in 1951)

Monday, Jan. 5, 1953–Very nice wash day. Alberta has an immense umbrella type clothes line. Albert went to work. We went to the market. Wayne's got home at 8:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1953–Cost Wayne's $23.80 for each of two whole tickets and two one-half ones for their trip to Palo Alto. Had a fog early but cleared later. Alberta called TWA and made reservations for Monday, Jan. 19, for us to leave L.A. at 8:20 a.m., arrive in St. Louis at 5:45 p.m. DeLuxe plane full fare $119.54, half fare $59.77. We must go on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday for this fare to be effective. Dad got cash at Lomita, $225.

Friday, Jan. 9, 1953–We went to the airport and paid for our tickets. Just had .69 left our of nine $20 bills.

Sunday, Jan. 11, 1953–A 60-foot boat had been washed up on the beach. We rode through fog into sunshine, then vice versa (to see the boat). Came back over Route 104; farm land. High tide at Redondo beach. All the buildings along the ocean front have been wrecked except one home. A wide sidewalk was washed out. Officials are alarmed for the water main may wash out. Albert took us to San Juan Capistrano, an old mission. We saw oil wells so thick they overlapped. They were at Huntington Beach. Water had been three feet deep over road.

Monday, Jan. 12, 1953–Foggy. Alberta washed but no drying day. Rain at times. We brought in what was dry about 3 p.m. At 9 p.m. Albert closed the garage and reported the rest of the clothes were dry, something unheard of in Illinois.

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 1953–Carl and I climbed the hill farther up than Albert's house. There are six houses south and 10 north of them. She says there are to be 60 new houses to be built farther up the hill.

Sunday, Jan. 18, 1953–We went to Long Beach for the noon meal. Dad set 'em up to us. Billy almost always orders hamburger and Coke. Carl and I packed everything but our night clothes. Alberta had to go after bread after dark, so she got me a bit of succulent vine which grows there so much–sort of a moss-like plant.

Monday, Jan. 19, 1953–Left Alberta's at 8:20 a.m. for airport. Mostly fog or clouds. Flew 17,000 feet up. We did see Grand Canyon. Pikes Peak off to left. Landed in Kansas City 1:20 L.A. time. Airport closed on account of heavy fog. Had to ride Wabash train to St. Louis. Left K.C. at 4:30 p.m. got to St. Louis at 10:10. Merle, Margie and Connie met us. Connie was very glad to see us.

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 1953–Inauguration Day for Eisenhower. We listened to a part of the parade. Mr. Campbell came as soon as we got home. Everything seems to be all right. Corky (the pup) is fat. Mr. Campbell had 135 more eggs sold, more than enough to pay him $2 a day for 38 days he stayed here.

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1953–I baked an angel food cake and fried a chicken, and we went to Merle's birthday supper. Wayne's there also. Frank Keith's called. Carl and I took 30 dozen eggs to Litchfield, Grade A, 44 cents.

Friday, Jan. 23, 1953–Rained about all day. I planned to go quilt, but Eliza and Florence called it off. I sure am not getting anything done but cook and wash dishes.

Saturday, Jan. 24, 1953–A little sunshine. We went to the hospital to see Jesse (Newport). Dr. Telfer says he is critically ill. About now I got three geranium slips potted I brought from California, also an ivy plant.

Sunday, Jan. 25, 1953–Merle took Carl to the St. Louis airport to get a refund on our plane tickets, $26.60. All but Carole of Merle's family ate dinner with us. Connie ate blackberries. Carl and I went to see Harley's. He has boils or something worse on his left cheek.

Monday, Jan. 26, 1953–More sunshine today than all put together last week. I had a big washing. Irene Knodle called and wanted me to go sit with Jesse from 3-7. I did so. He still doesn't know me. His pneumonia is about gone. Wayne Knodle is still bedfast with the flu.

Thursday, Jan. 29, 1953–Clear. Again I went to sit with Jesse. He knows Irene and I. Henry Eckhoff entered the hospital. Dropsy, I guess.

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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