Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Blonde Fellow in Lennie's Photo Album Is a Good-Looking Dude

Today I will not type any of Lennie's words. Instead I'm showing you a series of photos of one of his friends. I'm intrigued by these photos and wish Lennie had put names beside each thumbnail print.

Who is this young blonde fellow? I haven't a clue but he appears to be a nice young man. (You can click for a closer view.)

These four photos were scattered throughout Lennie's little pocket-size photo album. I didn't realize there were four until I began scanning and sorting them into folders.

I hope that someone who is familiar with the photography of 1898 will tell me whether it was a common thing to print thumb-size photos. Lennie was a photographer. Perhaps he photographed his friend? Or are these professional photos?
Many of Lennie's friends posed in similar fashion. Reading a letter. Leaning back with arms behind the head. Seated in a relaxed manner looking straight into the camera.

When I look around me today, and see the kind of clothing we wear, the sweats and pajamas, I'm thinking Lennie and his friends had a fine sense of style in those days. Perhaps their closet contained only a single suit and a couple pair of trousers and shirts, but they surely knew how to dress up spiffy.

If there are readers from Wakefield, Nebraska, who can identify this man, please do leave a comment.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Lennie Loses His Girlfriend. Life Becomes Dull.

Charles Leonard Davis (Lennie to his family and friends) of Wakefield, Nebraska, continues his sparse words in his 1898 Diary. We follow along and muse at his short notes, trying to decipher a bit into his life.

Thursday, March 24,
Nice day.
Rode with ??? at Rawlings *.
(rode his bicycle...no cars yet in those days)

Friday, March 25, 1898
Nice day.
Went riding with ???
(Lennie rides his bicycle with a friend, but I can't read his writing. So I haven't a clue as to who? Fellow? Female? Definitely wasn't his girlfriend G, cause as you can see, he and G had a falling out today.)
Went to JOGT
(Meeting at Odd Fellows)
Fell out with G.
(Uh-oh! I'm wondering if Lennie tried to convince G of his philosophy in regards to women...a philosophy imprinted on the first page of his diary. Here are his words written in his own hand-writing..."
Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet. In short, my deary, kiss me and be quiet." Lennie, Lennie, that kind of attitude will not endear you to the ladies.)

Saturday, March 26, 1898
Dull day.
Wind blew all day.
Helped Prof at school.

On Friday, Lennie has had a falling-out with his girlfriend G. On Saturday he's bummed to the max. Serves you right, Lennie! Consequently, Saturday is a mighty dull day. So dull that he resorts to helping the Professor at school.

*Rawlings Brothers is the local lumber yard. Lennie mentions on the first page of his diary that "
IN CASE OF ACCIDENT OR SERIOUS ILLNESS PLEASE NOTIFY...Rawlings Bros. Wakefield, Nebraska." I'm sure the Davis household did not have a telephone...perhaps Lennie thought the Rawlings Brothers would know where he lived and run to tell his parents of any accident or serious illness.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Lennie Notes a "Hot Time in Cuba"

Charles Leonard Davis (Lennie), who has just turned seventeen, continues his year-long diary as follows. (Lennie's writing is in black bold. My words are in blue italic.)

Sunday March 20,
A hot time in Cuba.
Went to Sunday School.
A pack of boys went up the
(railroad) track for a walk.

Monday, March 21, 1898
I was getting up a party when the wind began to blow.
Went to band practice.

Tuesday, March 22, 1898
Wind blew hard all day.
Had a party at Ellis Paulson.

Wednesday, March 23, 1898
I fixed my (bicycle) wheel and took a ride.
Staid home and worked books.

In world news, the Omaha Bee continues with multiple front-page stories about the USS Maine which, as you remember, sank in Havana Harbor due to an explosion on February 15, 1898. There is considerable discussion as to the cause of the explosion, whether something internal or external to the ship. This event will lead to the United States soon declaring war against Spain.

You can go to this site to read a portion of
Samuel Willard Crompton's book, The Sinking of the USS Maine: Declaring War Against Spain.

In local news (page 2 of the Bee) we read that in Dakota City, Nebraska, "A stranger was today lodged in jail by Sheriff Borowsky, charged with burglarizing the hardware store of Brustkers, Krietle & Bahl of Emerson (Nebraska) on the night of the 19th. The stolen goods were found in a haystack near Emerson and the man was in the act last night of getting them out when arrested. He resisted arrest and was given a fight before being subdued."

In its editorial section, the Omaha Bee comments on the potential new police station in Omaha with the following statement: "When we get a new police station the next thing in order will be to get a few police officers worthy of the name to direct the force." A sly commentary, that one.

And in regards to settlement of the western states, the Bee opines, "Not all of the persons who travel westward over the transcontinental railroads are bound for the Klondike (the gold rush). Many of them are seeking new homes in the western states, where land is cheap and good crops the rule. Between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean there are millions of acres awaiting the magic touch of the farmer to bring forth riches."

(Photo credit goes to this website.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lennie Takes An Exam

Thursday, March 17, 1898
Fixed up my wheel.
It broke down again.
Did not go to show.

Friday, March 18, 1898
Reviewed up for examination.
Went to band practice.
Rained at evening.

Saturday, March 19, 1898
Had examination by Prof. Culver.
Went to show at night.

Lennie's "wheel" that he fixed up on Thursday was undoubtedly his bicycle wheel.
And unless he noted the wrong date, his examination by Prof. Culver was on a Saturday. Hope the Prof was happy with Lennie's test scores. Especially since Lennie worked hard on Friday to prepare.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Football Great is Born and Lennie is Oblivious

Sunday, March 13, 1898
Went to Sunday School.
Also to C.E. and to church with G.

I believe "C.E." stands for "Christian Education" but I'm not certain. And I'm still puzzling as to whether Lennie is attending the Methodist Episcopal Church or whether he is attending the Presbyterian.

By now you can see that Lennie has stopped referring to his female friend as "you know" and feels comfortable to note her by her first initial "G".

Lennie is more fortunate than we. He does not need to set the clock ahead for Daylight Savings Time.

Monday, March 14, 1898
Rained at night.
Took G home after show.

Tuesday, March 15, 1898
Frank's birthday was agoing to have big dinner at Ollies.
Then got fooled.
I went to show.

"Frank" is Frank Albert Davis, Lennie's brother. Frank, born in Illinois, is older than Lennie by ten years. According to the 1900 Census, Frank is a barber and resides at home with Lennie's family.

"Ollie" is Flora Olive Davis Schulz, Lennie's sister. She and her hubby, Charles Schulz, own a home nearby in Wakefield. The 1900 census shows Charles as being a grocery salesman.

Lennie has missed the big event in Wakefield today. Future football player Clarence Swanson is born this day in Wakefield, Nebraska. Swanson will someday be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. You can read more about Swanson here.

Wednesday, March 16, 1898
Ellis Paulson came home.
Got a letter from Lew yesterday.
I went to show.

I don't know much about Ellis Paulson except that the 1900 census says he was born December 1878. That means he is currently 19, going on 20. He is one of Lennie's "older" friends.

Lew Walden is also a friend from Wakefield, recently moved to Phoenix after finishing high school. He and Lennie have been
corresponding by letter.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Upon Which Lennie Has His Seventeenth Birthday

Tuesday, March 8, 1898
My birthday.
Prof joined the M.W.A.
(Sorry! I didn't get this posted until the day AFTER Lennie's birthday! Lennie is seventeen years old! Unless you're figuring from the Year 2011 in which case Lennie would be 130 years old this year!)

Wednesday, March 9,
Show in town tonight.
I went to church with you know.
(Lennie is still sweet on "you know" but we haven't a clue as to her name. It is noteworthy that he is walking his girl to Wednesday night church.)

Thursday, March 10, 1898
Snowed in afternoon about 2 inches.
Went to free show.
It was all right.

Friday, March 11, 1898
Nice day.
Went to show.
Then to J.O.G.T.

Saturday, March 12,
Big snow in town.
Went to show.
Cost 10 cents.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lennie Photographs His Dog and the Band Plays On

Lennie's diary entries continue.

Friday, March 4, 1898
Band plaid for senior class.
Went to show.

Saturday, March 5
Got dog house for Sport.
Went to show.
Rained a little bit in the morning.

Sunday, March 6, 1898
Took Sport's picture.
Went to Sunday School with the girls.
(Lennie and his friend have gone to Sunday School with their girls.)

Monday, March 7, 1898
Developed Sport's picture.
It was fine.

Went to band practice.

Aha! Here we have proof that Lennie not only took many of his own photographs but developed them as well. Now I'm curious as to what kind of a dark room setup he had. Intriguing.

There are at least five photos of Sport in Lennie's little pocket size photo album. I'm sorry about the quality...it's pretty poor, even with photo enhancement software.

I like that Sport. He looks like a patient sort of dog! Eager to please! You can click here to see him in shirt collar, tie, and top hat.

By the way, President William McKinley has been in office one year. In his inaugural address a year ago March 4, he noted, "Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps."

Three and a half years later, McKinley will be shot by an assassin and will die eight days after.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lennie is Sick as a Dog

Today, Thursday, March 3, 1898 Lennie writes simply:
Got up sick as a dog.
Ole was sick also.

Today Lennie's brother, Benjamin Davis, celebrates his 25th birthday. He is still single and lives at home with Lennie, siblings Frank and Myrtle, and their parents Josiah and Martha Jane. Benjamin will marry in 1907 and he and his wife will raise nine children.

I want to go back to my previous post. Remember yesterday's letter in the Omaha Bee written by Lucius C. Pease? Today I learned that Pease won a Pulitzer in 1949 for editorial cartooning. He was an artist, political cartoonist, and writer. He spent a couple years in the Yukon during the gold rush years.

Mr. Pease writes in regards to his trip to the Yukon:

"We brought four big oxen and three months' feed for them. I decided upon oxen for two reasons. The man upon whom we had depended for dogs raised the price to double that agreed upon, but fortunately I had learned something by a trip I made to Skagway and Talya some two months ago for the purpose of acquainting myself with the needs of the trip. I found that oxen were about the most satisfactory animals of all the varieties of quadrupeds that have been used on this trail since the rush began. I met Willis Thorpe, the oldtimer, who has made money during the last two seasons taking stock to the Yukon over the Dalton trail. He said oxen would go where horses could not be made to go and that they would haul twice as much on the same feed and could stand more cold. A dog will not haul much more than to last himself in the journey to Dawson and you have got to take a lot of dogs to haul a man's outfit. When I returned from Skagway my partner agreed with me, and when the dog man wired us that he could not give us the dogs for less than $50 each we telegraphed back: "No dogs' thanks. We shall put our trust in God and oxen."

"The four (oxen) average 1,800 pounds each. They are young, lively and exceedingly gentle, and work singly in harness, each drawing a large toboggan fourteen feet long with three shoes bolted on the bottom to protect it from the wear of the ice and rough ground and to keep it from sliding sideways down a slope. Each toboggan will take as a nice shaped load 600 pounds of pressed hay, 600 pounds of corn and barley and 800 pounds of outfit for ourselves. This is forty days' provisions for the ox, and four toboggans take our entire outfit, which weighs 3,000 pounds, and includes tools and one year's provisions for the men. The oxen travel in single file, stringing out into quite a respectable caravan."

I won't include the entire letter for I'm not certain it is in public domain (in regards to copyright) but I think it will be fine to include these excerpts to illustrate to you the difficulty of traveling to the Klondike in those days.

"We are camped down in a very wild gorge, the rocks towering far above us on all sides. Our tent is pitched in the snow, which is about ten feet deep under us. I am seated Turkish fashion on my sleeping bag, which I spread on a few armsful of evergreen boughs hastily gathered in the neighborhood. A good fire is roaring in our Yukon stove and the north wind is howling and drifting the snow outside. Our cattle (the four oxen) are still fat and in good condition and are snugly housed in a snow shed which we dug out of the side of a huge snow drift against the wall of the canyon ....

...we are now hauling our stuff from the cache to the summit, two miles and a half above. When all our goods are at the summit we shall.............make a rush for the first timber on the other side, which is about twenty miles. That done, we shall consider half our journey to the Yukon accomplished.....we may be delayed for some time should a period of very stormy weather set in, but we have cattle feed to last fifty days and we are contented in the knowledge that the hardest part of our journey over the pass is done. We are well and my appetite is enormous."

Mr. Pease and his outfit are well stocked with food. He mentions the following "grub" which is to last them a year in the Yukon.

Condensed coffee and milk, cereals, pilot bread, corn meal, pea meal, wheat flour, canned baked beans, rice, barley, small beans, rolled oats, meats, butter, bacon, salt pork, cheese, smoked herring, ham, saccharine tablets, sugar, molasses; dried soup vegetables, potatoes, onions, squash, dried eggs, raisins, apricots, dried plums and peaches, currants; pepper, salt, eight pounds baking powder, mustard, soda, celery salt, horseradish, ten bars soap, coal oil, candles, matches galore. Total weight 2,250 pounds, with boxes. Total cost, $300.

Betcha didn't know that saccharine was first produced in 1878 at Johns Hopkins University.

See the interesting things you learn while following Lennie's Diary?

P.S. While googling for Lucius Pease I found that one of his paintings is up for sale on eBay this week. I am in no way connected to this sale, yada, yada, but thought you might like to see the listing here.