GRANDMA'S DIARIES • July 1953–Getting Ready For Plumbing


July 1953 weather alternates between "very hot" and "very rainy." Grandma's brother Harley Newport is extremely ill, so she makes a lot of trips to the Taylorville hospital to visit him. I was especially interested that on one trip she notes they traveled from their home in Butler to Taylorville entirely on "dirt" roads. I wonder if that is possible today? Uncle Wayne shoots five owls because they are dangerous. I am puzzled in what way owls were thought to be dangerous. The only idea I have come up with is that they might dive bomb a chicken. The big news for the month is how Grandma and Grandpa are preparing for the installation of indoor plumbing. I remember using the outhouse and taking a bath in a galvanized tub in the kitchen next to the wood cook stove. Remember they wired the house and barn for electricity in the 1940s and now an indoor bathroom in the 1950s. What modern convenience will the 1960s bring? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 1, 1953–Margie Dammann came at 6 a.m. and we picked blackberries. Merle came to combine. The machine gives a lot of trouble. Took 111 bushels wheat to Montgomery Service, Butler. Got $1.69 for it. Howy Ward brought oats one day this week,  634 bushels.

Thursday, July 2, 1953–Men got done combining. Woodrow Harris worked after noon. Wheat made 33-plus bushels per acre. Wayne got done combining. Wayne’s came in evening to pick berries. Wayne shot five owls which are dangerous. 

Friday, July 3, 1953–We shelled corn to mix with Coxi-nitrate and also more to have cracked. I took the part for fine grinding. Merle and Carl took last load of wheat to Raymond and settled up. He had 702.40 bushels, $1210.77. Price ranged from $1.70 to $1.74. Sonia Henry married. Went to Merle's and watched their fireworks.

Saturday, July 4, 1953–How is Tom Dammann's oats he sowed 4-16? Later 7-4 he pastured them. Merle, Margie, Carole, Jim, Leland and Luella (Bondurant) left for Hamilton's near Chicago about midnight. All but Carole were going on to Wisconsin. Carl plowed beans. Corn too big. I picked a gallon of berries. We watched fireworks at Harrises. Wayne’s were there.

Sunday, July 5, 1953–So hot. We went to Hillsboro after the paper, then to church and Sunday School. Ate a bite, took a nap and went by dirt roads to see Harley (Newport) (Taylorville). Vivian (Newport) told us the doctor says cancer is spreading over his head. Doctor gives him six months to live.

Monday, July 6, 1953–Cloudy. I didn't wash as Carl hurried to finish plowing his beans, then took the tractor and cultivator to David Osborn so he could plow Merle's beans. Later I went after him. I cut out a dress and got it basted for hemstitching later. Carl cut corn out of beans. Gus Sammons entered Hillsboro Hospital. Road oiled after noon.

Tuesday, July 7, 1953–Clear, cooler. I washed and ironed and did some mending. Later we picked blackberries.

Wednesday, July 8, 1953–Bob Allen helped cut corn out of the beans. Carl paid him $3 for the day.

Thursday, July 9, 1953–Guess it was today Woodrow Harris baled straw. Merle put 173 bales in our loft, and Wayne and Jake (Mutchler) came to help put it away. Wayne took 100 bales home with him. Merle ran a rake tooth between his toes. Awful near serious.

Friday, July 10, 1953–The weather is much cooler so Mary and I went quilting. Carl went to Gilbert Clinard's to see 80 pound shoats at $25 each. Too high. He thinks he better sell his cribbed corn. Merle and Margie cleaned up our car. We all went to the Nokomis picnic. Jim and Connie rode the carnival rides.

Sunday, July 12, 1953–I went to Sunday School. Carl stayed home and penned up the two sows and two shoats to ship which he bought from Roy Kessinger. In p.m. we went to see Harley. He talked much more than common but was hazy about it all. Went to Keiths later.

Monday, July 13, 1953–I washed. Helen Skinn came to tell us her dad (Gus Sammons) had passed away about eleven. Such a shock. He seemed better when Marian left him about 20 minutes before he died. Merle’s, Wayne’s and us ate supper at the lake. Hamilton Card's funeral this p.m. Charles Campbell cut weeds, $4. (Grandma's 70th birthday)

Tuesday, July 14, 1953–Home Bureau at Community House, also 4-H style show. Mrs. Keith and I went.

Wednesday, July 15, 1953–Very warm. We took eggs to Litchfield, 55 cents for Grade A. Went to lumber yard to price a whole window for the kitchen. Went to Gus Sammon's funeral. Later we went to Tillie Rehner's to see if she had a bath room. No.

Thursday, July 16, 1953–We ate dinner in Coffeen and then went to the second day of the Morrisonville picnic. Kept showering along at intervals. The gear slip locked on the Ford when we crossed the railroad track and hard road. Some service guy worked it loose.

Friday, July 17, 1953–.6 inches of rain since yesterday afternoon. Another shower after noon. Mary and I went quilting. We got Mrs. Busby's quilt finished. Will begin on Mrs. Robinson's second “Mystic Seven.” Takes a lot of quilting.

Saturday, July 18, 1953–Went to Taylorville to see about twin windows for the kitchen.

Monday, July 20, 1953–Hot! Hot! I washed and got done in time to go to Wayne’s at eight. Dad and Wayne went after windows at Kennedy's, Taylorville, but they had to put window panes in them yet. We went to all lumber yards, Litchfield in p.m., then to Dorseys. There we found a small window for the bath room. Vivian called at 6 p.m. saying her dad (Harley Newport) was having a hemorrhage bad. Merle took us to the hospital.

Tuesday, July 21, 1953–.7 inches rain. I ironed early then went to see Harley. He had a transfusion before noon. I took Emma up town for coffee and pie. Brought Wayne five saws from Bill Newport, $6. He met me at his road. Augie Root came again to figure on the bath room. Merles were here for a short time. Are having tomatoes, beans ready.

Wednesday, July 22, 1953–Showered again through the night. I got the weeds out of the strawberry row, but it was too wet to hoe. Dorseys man came to figure on bath room and kitchen fixtures. We went to see Harley, then to the Taylorville fair. Stopped in Raymond to look at septic tanks.

Thursday, July 23, 1953–Cooler. I finished a dress that had been cut out for some time. Took 30 dozen eggs to Litchfield. Grade A are .55. I took Hazel Sundburg's white African violet to her. Went on to Keiths to get a gallon of skim milk for dog and cats

Friday, July 24, 1953–Carl cut the garden hedge and went half through with the mower in the field and broke the sycle. I planted radishes, lettuce and carrots, pulled weeds and hoed. Took six fries to the locker. Cut and partly made Margaret a dress. Cattle judging at Farmersville. Larry took his Angus calf. Had green beans today.

Sunday, July 26, 1953–Hot! Wayne’s and Howy’s had a picnic for Linda and Sharon at Lake Hillsboro. We went to Taylorville hospital near eleven to see Harley then to George Best's for dinner, then back to hospital at 3:30. He was so restless. Wayne’s came to see about the bathroom. Augie Root and family came about eight, and we made the bargain with him to do the work on the house.

Monday, July 27, 1953–Hot! I didn't wash. Wayne came, and he and Carl put the window in for the bath room. Woodrow Harris cut our second crop clover and alfalfa. Charles Campbell cleaned out the chicken and hog houses. 

Tuesday, July 28, 1953–Wayne’s all came and Geraldine and I dressed 15 chickens for her. They weighed 62 pounds. George and Fern came for dinner. The cherry pie had to make eight pieces, ha! People from Litchfield came to see about my side saddle for the centennial. Mrs. Root brought the bath tub. Carl got bales of hay.

Wednesday, July 29, 1953–Hot! Wayne and Carl got some wiring done. Put on part of the wall board. They got it all on behind the bath tub. I put three more chickens in the locker, nine in all. Got 50 feet of wiring and a switch box. Went to see Harley. Storm looked bad when I got to Morrisonville. Rained a bit all along the way. Harley seemed more rational. 

Friday, July 31, 1953–Hot! The days are so very hot, but most of the nights cool enough to sleep. Geraldine and I met at Sears and ordered paint, imitation tile for bathroom. I took 15 dozen eggs to Litchfield. Grade A .55 cents. I got Margaret a tea pot for her birthday. The Roots came to make an estimate of material needed.

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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