Helen's Diary

This is a transcription of some diaries I bought at an antique store near Toledo, Ohio. When the diary starts in January 1937, Helen is a young wife and soon to become a new mother. If you wish to read it, it's best to start with the first post - January 1937 (my oldest post) - and then follow along with her everyday life.

April 26, 2008

February 1938

Tuesday, February 1, 1938

Rose worked today – so I got around alone – Terrible mix up in the numbers. Frank not home for supper and not until late – I’m so worried

Wednesday, February 2, 1938 – 14 weeks

Mother came from town and brought me a lot of things, Baby hangers & bibs – Had hot dogs for lunch – Chop suey for supper – Frank sick about his job

Thursday, February 3, 1938

Frank so miserable I could hit him – came home same way but a little quite – Number racket on last legs he says – fixed curtains & making pillow case

Friday, February 4, 1938

Frank home so late that Rose had to leave and we had to do the dishes – Franky getting sore because of all the dishes & work he has to do

Saturday, February 5, 1938

Rosie & girl friend here this A.M. had to leave early again – I don’t know what we’re paying her for – always has to leave – enjoyed radio programs

Sunday, February 6, 1938

Billy here all night – got out today first time in a month – so terrible muddy – Frank had to carry me – over to folks –ride – salami and home

Monday, February 7, 1938

Rose back but only stayed until Frank got home – I hope I never have to see her again – left me in kind of a mess but I don’t care

Tuesday, February 8, 1938

Home all day and managed fine – made a pie and bisquits – Frank helped with everything – Bed early at 7 o’clock

Wednesday, February 9, 1938 – 15 weeks

Had some pictures taken of the Baby – in a stew alright letter from Toots she is expecting in July – quite evening at home

Thursday, February 10, 1938

Larry brought proofs of pictures – struggled through the day somehow but I’d rather be alone than be bothered with company – Frank out all night practically

Friday, February 11, 1938

Mother and Dad here all day – Broiled hot dogs for lunch – Dr. here and took cast off my foot – says I can walk some but I don’t think it will ever be alright

Saturday, February 12, 1938

Race number so Franky working late – Made a cake – Hamburg and Jello for supper – Manny & Virginia here all night – played monopoly – Bill [her brother] here also – so tired

Sunday, February 13, 1938

Went out to Mothers for the day – whole family for ride in the afternoon – evening show Paramount Sonja Henie Happy landings – enjoyed it so much but my ankle about killed me

[Happy Landing is a musical comedy starring Sonja Henie, Don Ameche and Ethel Merman]

Monday, February 14, 1938 – St. Valentine’s Day

I’m so discouraged – my foot pains so – gave Franky carton of cigarettes – He brought home Fannie Farmer candy and stayed away all night. What a difference the Baby made.

Tuesday, February 15, 1938

Washed clothes and got along fine – Martha Davids here – Frank gone again for evening – He can’t love me anymore – every night gone

Wednesday, February 16, 1938 – 16 weeks

Went out to Mothers to stay for awhile – took a bath and took tape off foot, Its so sore I can hardly walk – Went to see Holden’s twins

Thursday, February 17, 1938

Mother has all the work now – I’m resting fine – Frank not home for dinner – Went to Dr. Taylor and had foot taped again – cost so far $22 [$283.00 today] guess I’ll be careful

Friday, February 18, 1938 – still with Folks

I’m certainly getting extra lazy – feel lousy – Took Norma to Dr. – Weight 11 lb 13 ½ oz – length 24 ½ inches – She’s so good – gets carrots & Beef Brouth now – Gin highballs & cards

Saturday, February 19, 1938 [shorthand]

Have a very bad stomach ake but feel relieved – Ice every where – Frank home late – Had some cocktails and talked – read about all the stories in the house

Sunday, February 20, 1938

Went to show - State – afternoon – took Darwin & Bill along – Home for supper then bundeled up Baby and came home – Mrs Austin not expected to live

Monday, February 21, 1938

Managed to get laundry down and make supper and got in an hours rest – Mrs Austin died at 6 P.M. – I feel so bad – how could I face death in my own kin

Tuesday, February 22, 1938

Sent flowers to Austin’s – cleaned house & washed dining room windows. Frank not home for supper so had a rest – Having a time with my breast

Wednesday, February 23, 1938

Funeral today of Mrs. Austin but couldn’t go – Finally got flower planted – empty waste baskets & garbage and went to sleep – had chow mein for supper – simply love it – Frank out for even.

Thursday, February 24, 1938

Ironed and worked hard all day – had grilled cheese sandwiches & soup for dinner – Mother over in evening so went to show – snow White and Seven dwarfs – it was adorable – hot dogs

[Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the animated Disney classic]

Friday, February 25, 1938

Finished ironing – have a time with my breasts – there so sore – using glyserine & Bori acic now – hamburg for supper – took bath and went to Bed

Saturday, February 26, 1938

Letter from Dave & Bee – have to clean house – intended to go town but it rained hard Frank wouldn’t let me – loafed all evening – Bed early

Sunday, February 27, 1938 – Baby 4 months old

Got ready by 3 P.M. and took baby out for ride – stopped at Sherman’s – left baby long enough to eat at Edison’s – Luella & Bill [aunt and uncle] & Mother & Dad here even.

Monday, February 28, 1938

Luella & Bill here for supper so worked hard all day – had rolled rib roast and custard pie – Bill & Frank went to Basket game


Baby growing is double her birth weight – I’m so glad I can walk again

April 9, 2008

January, 1938

Saturday, January 1, 1938 – New Year’s Day

Dot & Jim here for day. Jim and Frank went skating afternoon. Had a roast ham that was delious. Baby is so sweet – Hope this year is easier on me and that its prospous for Frank.

Sunday, January 2, 1938

Had plenty of sleep & some love – life is certainly wonderful to me – Mother Dad & Kids over – went skating – I love to skate – folks here all evening & supper.

Monday, January 3, 1938

Had sliced ham for supper. My days are pretty much all alike – washing cooking – Baby tending and the constant desire to get out side for some air.

Tuesday, January 4, 1938

Ironed most of day – late with supper – Frank over to get Cealia & Davy – went skating – I wish I had more time to skate – its thrilling

[Tucked inside this page is a newspaper clipping. The picture is of a construction site and a large crane lifting girders. There’s a row of houses visible alongside the construction. The caption reads:
(One of Largest Ever Used In Toledo)

Wednesday, January 5, 1938 – 10 weeks – Holdens twin Boys

I’m always late with supper – Had Ham Timbales – pretty good – enjoying stove more & more – made apple cupside cake – Went to Bed early – I’ll be glad when I can sleep at 2 A.M.

[The recipe for Ham Timbales is from the 1918 Fanny Farmer Cookbook:

2 tablespoons butter
½ tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ cup stale bread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup chopped cooked ham

Melt butter, add bread crumbs and milk, and cook five minutes stirring constantly. Add ham, parsley and eggs slightly beaten. Season with salt and pepper. Turn into buttered individual moulds two-thirds full set in pan of hot water, cover with buttered paper, and bake twenty minutes. Serve with Bechamel Sauce.]

Thursday, January 6, 1938

Decided at last minute to go out to Mothers – Had hair set and there for supper – Frank out about 9:30 rushed home – Have a lot of magazines.

Friday, January 7, 1938

Got cleaned up and took Baby to Dr. Weight 9 lbs 4 ½ oz. starting her on cereal & Jello & Bannas. Its really fun taking care of a Baby – Would like twins like Holdens

Saturday, January 8, 1938

Went down town – Spent around 3.00 [$38.00 today] but satisfied my desire to get out for a week. Ate at George & Harrys – Enjoy eatting out now – Have a new Budget

Sunday, January 9, 1938

Wasted whole morning sleeping after 2: o’clock feeding – went out home – skated about 1 ¼ hr. Stopped in at Woolfords – Luella & Bill came for supper – Home late.

[The only Woolford family in Toledo in 1930 was Mr. & Mrs. Avery and Amelia Woolford. Avery is a railroad conductor, and in January 1938, Avery was 53 and Amelia was 47. They have a daughter named Dorothy who is 22 – I’m wondering if this is Helen’s friend “Dot”]

Monday, January 10, 1938

Received Holden’s announcement of twins. Made a chocolate cake – expected Luella but she had to go back – Frank went out home to skate – Spent whole day working.

Tuesday, January 11, 1938

Letter from Toots and Elsie – polished shoes – Frank getting car fixed – Steaks for supper – Baby has such a hard time eating her Jello – take her cereal fine.

Wednesday, January 12, 1938

Started washing kitchen but didn’t finish it – Had stuffed Pepers – letter from Ike & Sara [Frank’s sister and brother-in-law]. Now I owe everybody letters again. had delious high balls quite evening – sewed.

Thursday, January 13, 1938

Finished kitchen and tried to have a nice supper – steaks. Frank had car fixed cost $30.00 [$386.00 today] he was gone all evening skating.

Friday, January 14, 1938

My unlucky day again – Cealia Gilbert here – went skating & fell on right ankel - Had to be carried up hill – suffered all night hope it is only sp.

Saturday, January 15, 1938

Mother came down & bathed baby. Had Dr. Taylor – Have to stay off of foot having a terrible time – Very painful & constant – Will know Monday if broke.

Sunday, January 16, 1938

Mom & family here for dinner – I’m completely helpless & what pain. Rosy over in evening is going to stay & help out – I’m certainly headed for a long rest.

Monday, January 17, 1938

Dr. here still doesn’t know if its broken or not – Rose is swell and doing all the work – Frank & I alone evening – its just one round of hot towels.

Tuesday, January 18, 1938

Went to Robinhood hospital & had exray taken – foot not broken but bones pried apart $10.00 [$128.00 today] – Did some typing for Lova – had some highballs & tired.

(Robinwood Hospital)

Wednesday, January 19, 1938 – 12 weeks

Thought I would never live through today – Mrs. Tangbein up to see me – hot towels all day – Cealia over – Frank & Rose went skating

Thursday, January 20, 1938

Nurse here again still putting hot towels on ankel – Rose gone at 3:o’clock alone – Soup & salad for supper – feeling miserable

Friday, January 21, 1938

Letter from Sam & Sara [Frank’s brother and sister-in-law] – now I owe letters to everyone – Payday – So much trouble with cops – I wish Frank had other work – Swiss steak for dinner – Noise evening.

Saturday, January 22, 1938

Dr. Taylor put cast on ankle – doesn’t hurt so much – Mother Dad & grandmother here – Rose left – Frank got supper and kept me company.

Sunday, January 23, 1938 – Mary Jane’s birthday

Frank played house keeper today to bad for him that I’m laid up but a swell rest for me – Had ice cream Jello custard pie today & Pork chops – full

Monday, January 24, 1938

Rosy ill so Cealia came over. I’m sure a nervous reck – called Employment – getting a girl to help – Evening with Frank alone – If only I hadn’t hurt my ankle

Tuesday, January 25, 1938

Girl applied at 11:00. Hope she likes work since there’s plenty to do. Dorothy here – helped with supper but wouldn’t stay – very tired this evening.

Wednesday, January 26, 1938 – 13 weeks

Mother here – girl moved in this afternoon name Bertha Young. I hope shes alright – Frank gone – alone with girl – She certainly isn’t friendly

Thursday, January 27, 1938

On the go all day and so tired at night went to Bed at 6:00 – Frank had a book so he didn’t mind – I’ll have to be resting up

Friday, January 28, 1938

Bertha is so slow – she fools around to much – told her to leave this afternoon – Mother came & Frank took Baby together to Dr. – Wgt. 10 lbs – 12 ounces

Saturday, January 29, 1938

All alone – had a terrible time but with Frank home everything worked out O.K. – Had wieners and Beans quite evening – So tired could hardly wgd [?]

Sunday, January 30, 1938

Managed somehow – Wrote letters all day to everybody – Frank on Quiz Bee. Won 10 silver dollars [$128.00 today] but I don’t get to see any of it – Rose came back tonight.

Monday, January 31, 1938

Turned house inside out – moved furniture around and felt pretty pleased – Rose certainly does things right – Had porter house steaks – Mary Jane here

April 5, 2008

December 1937

Wednesday, December 1, 1937 – 5 weeks

Mother stayed with Baby while I went shopping for Christmas presents – back at 2:30 – Baby such a little doll – Guess I could stand 2 or 3 like her – Had to call Dr. in evening for her – colic again

Thursday, December 2, 1937

Had Moms Hoover so cleaned house – Phil here for dinner – all cold as lights out – Baby cried again for 3 hrs – Frank out even. till 12:30

Friday, December 3, 1937

Taking it easy today – Frank brought home chop Suey – was it good – took Bath & put laundry away – Phoned Dr. Fisher – started menstrating – Br. Good

Saturday, December 4, 1937

Franky home for lunch – Dressed up Baby and took her to Dr. Kass – Weighs 8 lbs 4 ounces – Over to Ceals for supper and part of evening – sleepy Bed early

Sunday, December 5, 1937

Baby is a little angel today – had steaks for dinner – Mom & Dad & kids here for supper – Everybody fell asleep – I’m just too too tired all the time

Monday, December 6, 1937

Franky wanted to go to the show so had Lora Austin over to take care of Norma Jean – Ritz Brothers in Life at collegeat State – worried about Baby

[Life Begins In College is a comedy starring the Ritz Brothers, Joan Davis, Tony Martin and Gloria Stuart]

Tuesday, December 7, 1937

Had Lora over again – went down town to get hair fixed – ate at Edison – Baby must of cried – Frank out for evening – So tired of rushing

Wednesday, December 8, 1937 – 6 weeks

If it wouldn’t be for Mother I’d never take the Baby out - Went to Christmas party at Streetmatters – Supper out home – Even – Show Rivolla – Irene Dunne – The awful truth

[The Awful Truth is a screwball comedy starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant]

Thursday, December 9, 1937

Stayed home thank heavens – Had double everything to do – Elmer & Vivian over also Ann – brought some swell Gifts

Friday, December 10, 1937

Mother over to take care of Baby – down town buying Christmas presents – always short on time – Evening Harry Goodleman here.

[Don’t know much about Harry Goodleman, but he was born October 20, 1913 which makes him 24 at this time. He was involved in the “laundry, cleaning and garment services industry”]

Saturday, December 11, 1937

Orders a lot of groceries – afternoon Frank stayed home – I went to Dr. for 6 week exam. – Manny & Virginia here all night.

[While we’re doing background checks, Manuel H. Ganch was born December 1, 1907 which means he had just turned 30 at this time. His death certificate from 1993 states that he had 5+ years of college and was a retired lawyer. Virginia V. Ganch was born November 9, 1912 so she was 25 at this time. She died February 4, 2003.]

Sunday, December 12, 1937

Late Breakfast – Manny & Virg. had a pretty bad fight gone at 2:00. We went ice skating afternoon – I’m not so bad – home early awfully tired

Monday, December 13, 1937

Cleaned house – Had roast chicken & Manny for dinner – Franky bought me my Christmas Present – a mixmaster – tickeled with it

Tuesday, December 14, 1937 – first smiling

Baby is sneezing all the time and has cold in her eyes but she is so good – Soup & salad for supper & Franky went away all even.

Wednesday, December 15, 1937 – 7 weeks

141 [I think this refers to her weight] Baked oatmeal cookies – Mixer is so wonderful – Every thing covered with ice – sewed awhile – wish I didn’t have these headakes

Thursday, December 16, 1937

Made peanut Butter cookys & yellow cake today – so busy didn’t have supper even started when Franky got home – Sewed evening

Friday, December 17, 1937 [shorthand]

Such a miserable day – Baby has a cold – took her to see Dr. – Weight 8 lbs 13 oz – shes getting go big – Bed about 9

Saturday, December 18, 1937

Went down town this afternoon & finished most of Christmas shopping – Had piano toned – sounds beautiful – Put up christmas tree – I’m so happy

Sunday, December 19, 1937

Frank & Davy went skating – had roast ham

Monday, December 20, 1937

Frank brought home another Christmas present for me – a Bulva watch – beautiful – Ronson lighter for Dad – took to 10 O clock to do the dishes

Tuesday, December 21, 1937

Made pepermint cookies – Rosy over stayed with Baby – Met Frank down town – Bought skates for each other and more gifts – F tried out skates

Wednesday, December 22, 1937 – 8 weeks

So busy writing Thank you notes and addressing Christmas presents – Wrapped gifts – Folks over and brought over Radio – Christmas pr.

Thursday, December 23, 1937

In a big stew – so much to do and can’t get it done – Darwin & Bill [her brothers] here all night – and sent over some pretty things for Baby

Friday, December 24, 1937

Sick to stomach all day – didn’t do anything – Stayed at mothers all night – over to Shermans and Ceals delivered presents – Received a lot of beautiful Gifts – Baby too

Saturday, December 25, 1937 – Christmas

Out home all day – skating for while – Wonderful chicken dinner – home about 9 o’clock – Baby has a cold in eyes – We love her so much

Sunday, December 26, 1937

Took pictures of Baby – Went ice skating – Davy here for Dinner – Frank went to Quiz Bee – Mary Jane here for evening – Made hem on table cloth – old one

Monday, December 27, 1937

Cleaned house – ordered groceries for all week just about – F gone evening – He bosses me too much – I can’t stand it

Tuesday, December 28, 1937

Helen & Lou Wolk here for dinner – Had Rib roast – lobster salad – Baked potatoe & Peach pie – Butch Brossel – Mary Jane – Dot & Jim here also for evening – Served lunch

Wednesday, December 29, 1937 – 9 weeks

Letters from Luella – answered it & wrote Toots – Had remaining roast – Bed early – so tired – will be glad when New Years is over

[Luella is Helen’s aunt (her mother’s older sister). Aunt Luella is married to Bill Schurdack and she’s about 41 at this time.]

Thursday, December 30, 1937

Mother over took care of Baby – Went down town and exchanged Table Pads & teapot – Bought Beautiful house coat & night gown – Chow Mein for dinner

Friday, December 31, 1937

Had Lora Austin help me but sure did work hard – Dot & Jim & Mother & Dad here – Had a pretty nice lunch & lots of drinks – Bed 3:30


Frank made approximately 3500.00 this year and we only saved $800 – Baby 200.00 - Stove 132.50 – Refrediate – 155 – Christ. 150.00

[In 2005 dollars that’s: Income - $46,672; Saved - $10,668; Baby - $2,667; Stove - $1,766.87; Refrigerator - $2,067; Christmas - $2,000]

[The following is written on a blank page at the end of the book]

Helen Sherman

Weight 128 Height 5’2”
Hair Brown Eyes Grey

Dress size 16 18
Hosiery 8 ½ 9 ½
Hat 22 22
Gloves 6 ¼ 6 ¼
Shoes 5 ½ AA 6 AAA ½
Brassier 34 36
Slip 36 38

Feb 15 – 37
Sept. 29 – 37

[The following is typewritten on a sheet of paper tucked into the diary. The paper appears to be stationery from her father’s business]

2628 Tully Ave.
Furnace And Sheet Metal Work
Toledo, Ohio
WAlbridge 1932-W

Events of 1937

17, - Manny and Virginia married.
25, - Started new job at Harper Method.
6, - Quit work at Harpers. Knew I was pregnant
19, - Went to Dr. Fisher for examination.
Easter 28, - With Mother and Father at home.
1, - Frank’s birthday, age 29, New hat and cigarettes – Spent evening with the Hermans.
14, - Mothers birthday, age 39, gave her grey leather purse.
28, - Billys birthday, age 11, gave him fish pole and tackel.
9, - Mothers Day, sent corsage – All of us in Cleveland.
11, - New Refrediator arrived. Mary Jane and Walter separated.
30, - Memorial Day – Howard, Fritz, Toots and Delores, Also Manny and Virginia here.
7, - 17, Sam and Sahra here from Denver.
13, - Went to Exposition in Cleveland.
19, - Elmer and Vivian got married
2, - My Birthday, age 21, from Frank – Silex coffee maker, and waffel iron. From Mom & Dad Kitchen Chair and lace dollies – Red Waste paper can, from Kids red pot holders and rubber spoon.
12, - Bought all my Baby clothes
3, - Fathers Birthday, age 44, gave him cigars and cigarettes.
15, - Mother had shower for baby to be, Received lovely gifts from ladies of the Church guild
20, - New Tappan stove arrived
21, - Wedding Anniversary, Second year. Gave Frank shirt, pajamas ties and lavender soap. I received candy and stove. Ate at Chinese resturant and saw show.
26, - Went to hospital and early morning Norma Jean Born.
25, - Out home for Thanksgiving
28, Darwins Birthday – Age 14 – Have ring for him but giving it to him at Christmas time.
25, - Out home Christmas eve and day.

Gifts received

Frank received --- from folks, Carton cigarettes and Billfold. From Luella, Scarf, from me Silk pajamas, Skarf, garter set with suspenders, three shirts, 4 ties, 4 pair socks, shoes, Gloves, shaving brush, cigarettes and skates.

Norma Jean --- from Gramma Goeder, toy swan and knife, fork and spoon. From Gramma Overmyer toy dog and bathrobe set. From Aunty Luella, Pink silk dress and toy rattle.

Helen received --- From Frank – Sunbeam mixer, Bulova watch, white figure skates. From folks, Iron cord set, refrederater set, Taylor meat thermometer, 3 aprons, Foto set, table pads. Pie plate with server from Bill. Nut dish set from Darwin. Chinelle rug set from Luella, Handkerchiefs and towel from Gramma.

second Christmas

Gifts Given.

To Mother – Bedspread and scarf set, red cooky jar, table cloth and half interest in blue tea pot.

To Father – Ronson lighter and cigarettes.

To Darwin – Ring and tennis racket.

To Bill – Model Airplane set and tennis racket.

To Luella – Slip.

To Gramma – Nightgown.

To Granpa – Tobacco.

Ceal – Lamp

Rosy – Manicure set

Gilbert – Cigarettes

Davy – Scarf and belt

Ronald – tapping set.

Mother Sherman – House slippers, and dress Cookies Fruit cake –
Father Sherman – House slippers, and wiskey } $15.00

Harry - Cigarettes