GRANDMA'S DIARIES • Sept. 1953–Brother Harley Passes


September 1953 is hot and dry. The heat and lack of timely rain has affected both the field crops and the garden. Grandma's older sister, Maud, had come for a long visit at the end of August. Most likely she had come because of their brother Harley's poor health. She and Grandma divide their time between visiting Harley and other kin and harvesting the grapes. Even though they were concerned about Harley's health, I'm sure that they were enjoying one another's company while canning jelly and juice for the coming winter. In my mind's eye I can see them in the kitchen talking and laughing. Grandma was a tall, statuesque woman, while Aunt Maud was very tiny, whispy and petite. They were quite a pair. Unfortunately Maud has to return to her Missouri farm before Harley passes away.  

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 1953–Hot and dry. Corn and beans are drying up fast. Carl paid Woodrow Harris $20 for baling second crop hay. Maud and I worked in fruit. Maud ironed all morning. Geraldine and children here for dinner.

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1953–We finished picking grapes. Got a batch picked off for jelly. Cooked them, but let them set while we went to see Jelma Sargeuson at Morrisonville. Mrs. Keith came while men went to ATA. Carl bought new wagon from Hobbie Turner's business. First new beans delivered to Butler elevator, $.46. Ward Clinard, owner.

Thursday, Sept. 3, 1953–Hot. We got the grape juice canned. Made grape conserve. Campbell came after noon and scooped two loads of corn which Carl hauled to Butler. We made tomato juice. Carried canned fruit to cellar.

Friday, Sept. 4, 1953–.7 inches rain early morning. Went to Litchfield in a.m. I got a ticket for over-parking, 10 cents paid at fire department. Went to see Harley in p.m. Slept all the time. His face looks worse. Sumner Wilson bought two loads of corn, 110 bushels, $170.50.

Saturday, Sept. 5, 1953–Called Irene Knodle, and she said for us to come and spend the day. Wayne Knodle wasn't very busy. Carl stopped at Hauners at Hillsboro and paid for his new rubber-tired wagon bed, $132.50. Dr. Strattmier gave Corkie a rabies shot, tag no. 276644.

Sunday, Sept. 6, 1953–We just didn't go anywhere. Came up a black cloud in northwest about 3 p.m. Wind blew and rained about a half inch. We picked some white peaches in the garden. Merle’s came at night. When they left, Connie said, “Do you want to hold me, Daddy?”

Monday, Sept. 7, 1953–54 degrees at 7 a.m. Labor Day. We washed and then went to Lige Littrell's looking for a gentle cow. He had sold it. Wayne helped Howy vaccinate pigs. We went to Wayne's for a pancake supper. Maud and I canned eight and a half quarts white peaches.

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 1953–We ironed and canned some more peaches. I canned 12 pints for Maud.

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 1953–April 20 Carl predicted hogs would be down to 10 cents per pound. Carl mowed part of the stubble. Harley was taken to Taylorville hospital, and we went about 4 p.m. He had had sinking spells.

Friday, Sept. 11, 1953–Hot. Merle brought us coal, $51.45. I paid $3.80 to Ethel Newport for weaving two rugs. Maud got one. She paid for one, $1.85, and I gave her one.  All wool rugs. Children all here for a cold lunch at night. Rained and hailed a bit. Augie Root’s here also. Sharon Ward got hit with a ball bat at school. 

Saturday, Sept. 12, 1953–Cooler. Had .3 inches of rain. Wayne, Geraldine and Larry came, and we left with Maud to take her home at 9:30. Ate dinner in Kirkwood, MO. Got to Lula's (Maud's daughter) at 4. Ate supper there. Then Carl and I spent the night and ate breakfast Sunday morning with Maud.

Sunday, Sept. 13, 1953–Wayne's came to Maud's after us. Idus gave me a half dozen big glasses with red roses on them. They matched what I had left of a set that Mary Nimmmons gave me years ago. We left Lula's and got home at 4:30. Ate dinner at the Big Diamond Cafe 30 miles west of St. Louis. Carl gave Wayne $18 expenses of trip to Tyrone, MO.

Monday, Sept. 14, 1953–Real chilly. I didn't wash but got caught up on my bookkeeping. Carl took the car to Raymond to get the wheels changed about. A rod was bent.

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1953–I washed and ironed. We drove to Fillmore where Carl saw Roy Kessinger about some shoats, then we went to a sale on the old Miller place west of Fillmore. Stopped at Merle's and brought Connie home with us while her mother had her hair set. Connie was very good.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1953–Annual Home Bureau meeting, Nokomis, new Lutheran church, $1 for dinner, but all we could eat. Mrs. Keith and I went with Mabel Clift. Merle took our hog to the locker. Roy Kessinger brought 16 shoats for Carl. Harley entered Taylorville hospital after he had two sinking spells.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 1953–We went to Taylorville. I got gray material for a jacket suit, $8.01. Went to the hospital to see Harley. So very bad. Cancer has spread rapidly. Soybean festival. Parade didn't amount to much.

Friday, Sept. 18, 1953–Harley passed away about 3:30 p.m. We started up there about 5:30, but weather looked so threatening. We got to Raymond and turned back. No rain however. Mary Nimmons and I went quilting.

Saturday, Sept. 19, 1953–.5 inches rain. We went to Taylorville. Emma and Vivian had just left home with Mr. Pierse to buy a lot. We saw them later at the funeral home. Stopped at Wayne's and brought Linda home with us. We went back with Merle’s at night while Wayne, Geraldine, Merle and Margie went to see Harley.

Sunday, Sept. 20, 1953–We went to Bill Newport's for dinner. Funeral was at 3:30 because of Mrs. England's funeral at 2. Harley looked so at peace and his face restored to its “healed” look as of three or four years ago.

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1953–40 degrees. Frost. Frost didn't hurt anything. Carl is getting in a hurry to get his beans combined.

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1953–Leroy Barnes worked on his combine until they ate an early dinner. Connie stayed with me while Violet Root took Margaret to Springfield where she got the license for another truck Merle bought. Best hogs sell around $25.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 1953–Cloudy. Carl got McKinsie from the Taylor place to bring his combine, so they both got finished by 4 p.m. Carl thinks his beans made 18 to 20 bushels per acre. Dry weather cut the yield. Jim Garmen sowed wheat. Sign is in head-Aries. Full moon on 22, dry and barren, masculine.

Friday, Sept. 25, 1953–I went quilting. Mary didn't go. She says she has a cold. Carl is working his wheat ground. I wish we could go to the Assumption Centennial. Sounds interesting on the radio. Wayne sowed wheat.

Saturday, Sept. 26, 1953–Still no rain. I took some checks to Raymond bank. Got a bushel of Jonathan apples at a store for .89. Merle spread fertilizer. His work was $23.

Sunday, Sept. 27, 1953–Did the perfumed star flower bulbs grow? I think they came up but too dry for anything. Jim came home with us and stayed while his folks went to the stock car races in Springfield. Wayne's came between church and Sunday School and time to go to Hanke's for supper.

Monday, Sept. 28, 1953–92 degrees at 4:30 p.m. Carl went to Howy Ward's for seed wheat. Went to Wayne's after 12 for some more wheat. John Keith sowed the wheat, 23 acres, all the government allows us. Went to Litchfield to see a cow at Dr. Strattmier's. He wasn't home.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1953–102 at 1 p.m. A hot wind. Something unusual. It is possible for a farmer to combine beans, sow wheat and pick corn all on the same day for everything is so very dry. I washed and ironed before 12. Washed my hair after noon. It was dry in no time. Carl paid McKinzie $45 for combining beans. Paid $4.75 for seven-year subscription to Prairie Farmer. 

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 1953–61 degrees at 6 a.m. Much cooler. Wayne’s were at Jim's helping pick corn. Carl had corn tested for moisture, 21-3. Too much to crib. We got 39 pullet eggs.

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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