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How Susan edited Joan’s diaries

After my mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison, died in 2010, my two older brothers and I found hundreds of poems and journal entries composed by her as a child, starting from when she was nine years old in 1932. Home Front Girl contains a large number of Joan’s journal entries, which are identified by date—the years 1937 to 1943—and ordered chronologically as she ages from 14 to 20.  She also wrote hundreds of poems, likewise all dated.  My very smart mother helped the editing process enormously by simply dating all of her work.

Here is one of her pages:

This is how I transcribed it:

[So Andy and Dennis and I] sat and talked for a while. Then Andy looked at me and said disapprovingly, “Go and put some clothes on, Joan,” and I was wearing my bathing suit.  And it looked like a playsuit.  [Drawing of Joan in bathing suit with the word “me” pointing at her]  But I did as he said.  When I came back, the Peppers were almost done, so they went out and I cleaned up Brownie.  Then Dennis and Andy and I sat talking for a while. Then Andy went and Dennis and I sat talking.  Then we played the victrola while it rained.

            Funny, but for three years I have come home with the same dream in my heart.  I’ve got it yet.  It’s still Dennis Turner. [Drawing of listening to victrola]

            See, it is the quiet moments that you remember.

            I remember so many things; I cannot write them all out.

            I remember the day Bump [and Kennelly and I sat in Brownie and discussed Andy thoroughly only to discover that he was in the backroom ostentatiously sleeping.  Oh, how I laughed, for I was the only one who hadn’t said I like him.]

It takes a lot of time to read cursive script and make out letters and words.  Luckily, I know my mom’s writing well and could understand almost everything.

Here is another page from Saturday Midsomer’s Day-1939.  Notice how she spells “Midsummer.”

I transcribed it thus:

Saturday Midsomer’s Day 1939

Hello!

No faeries today yet…

I fear me for their existence.

Well—we must behave…

Went downtown shopping today…Afterwards sat near Art Institute by the Fountain of the Lakes and read [Edwin Arlington] Robinson’s Tristram[1]…such a moonlight-on-white sills feeling it gives one…Sat on the little stone to the left of the fountain while the pigeons rose and drifted, fluttering about me—Fat-necked curious fellows with red feet and beady eyes—surrounding me, hopeful of peanuts. And if I moved a foot or turned a page, they rose in clouds, beating the air hectically, frenziedly, only to drift down again and watch with their heads cocked while I read…Maybe they were my midsomer’s faeries… Qui sabit?  [written along the edge]:  Also read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Conversation at Midnight”


[1] Bestselling book of poetry that won Robinson his third Pulitzer Prize in 1928.

This page above is from June 24, 1939.  Joan had something in her eye and had to go to the eye doctor.  Not only did she make a little sketch of herself with the patch on her eye, but she also pasted in a photo of her with the patch taken in a photo booth.  I think she looks adorable.  She’s 16 years old.

I transcribed this page here:

[I passed the old House of] Mystery on the way home…still gloomy—still entrancing with its great iron gate…

            All this after I left mom after the midnight show at the Century….”Three Smart Girls Grow Up[1]…”The Hound of the Baskervilles”…Her feet hurt and it was Midsomer’s Eve…What could I do?  Maybe I had over-prepared the event…Well—

            Maybe it doesn’t have to be in a park or with trees and alone that you find Puck…Maybe he is only inside you…Well…Good Night!

P.S. Went down to eye place today and he took it out after five hours’ waiting.  A big white patch on my eye.  Had my picture taken with it…[Photo and drawing of her with patch].


[1] 1939 film with Deanna Durbin and Robert Cummings.

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