Friday, January 6, 2012

Grandma's 1934 Diary, Week 1

(To read entries from my maternal grandmother's 1933 and 1934 diary, please click on the tab "Posts by Topic" and then go to the topic "California." All posts are listed there.)


The writer is Ethel Ranney Tapley.
Alice is her sister.
Kenneth is her brother.
Her parents.
H = her boyfriend, Hazel Avery Plumlee
Delma = Hazel's little sister
Earl = Hazel's brother
Verda = Earl's wife
Dorothy Lee = Hazel's niece (Earl's child)
Otho is Otho Hesser, her father's cousin.
Viella is Mary Viella Crites Hesser, Otho's wife.
Ruth & Kathryn are Otho and Viella's daughters.
Uncle Jont is Jonathan Hesser, Otho's father and her father's uncle.
Aunt Kate is Sarah Katherine Hall Hesser, Jonathan's wife and Otho's mother
Herman (Williams) is Alice's husband.

Kenneth's wife is also named Alice; her maiden name is unknown.

 RECAP from the first diary post dated January 14, 2011:

"My maternal grandmother, Ethel Ranney Tapley, kept a diary for all of 1933 and part of 1934.  It is small and red, with "Five Year Diary" in gold across the cover.  We've all seen the type... each page has a date at the top with five sections per page to write a four line entry for that day for five years."

"The first page is just lined with no date at the top.  Here it appears that she did a synopsis of important dates for the years.  For 1934, it reads":
Jan 1. - Kenneth & Alice split up.
Jan. 10. - I got a permanent.
Feb. 11 - I got married.
Aug. 13 - I got a permanent.

I find it hilarious that my grandmother ranked getting a permanent right up there with divorces and weddings!

As I mentioned in last week's post, Grandma did not write in the diary regularly for 1934 after about the first three months.  So these posts will get more sporadic as the year goes on.  

Here we go...

Monday, January 1, 1934:  "It is still raining.  Mama & I went to the show in the afternoon.  My it sure did rain.  Several people homeless & killed in L.A." **

Tuesday, January 2:  "I went to school.  Dad worked on the C.W.A."

Wednesday, January 3:  "I went to school.  Dad worked on the C.W.A.  Otho was here a little while.  We went over to Hessers in the eve."

Thursday, January 4:  "I went to school.  Met mama & Viella at noon.  We went to San Berdo.  Came back to Redlands & went to the show.  Saw Mr. Skitch, with Will Rogers & Zozu Pitts."
 Friday, January 5:  "I went to school.  Mama went with me to Trowbridges.  Mama went over to Whites to tie a comforter.  I went over to Hessers after her."

Saturday, January 6:  "I got Dorothy Pate & we went to town to try & register.  But the man wasn't there.  Dorothy was here for dinner.  I saw Clara down town."

"Infamous New Year's Day Flood, Los Angeles Basin, 1934
The 1934 flood disaster in Los Angeles basin was so horrific that Woody Guthrie composed a song called "Los Angeles New Year's Flood" to memorialize the hundred people who were buried alive, drowned, or never found.  Light rain began falling on December 30, 1933, and rapidly intensified to a downpour totaling 7.31 inches in 24 hours.  This amount of rain qualified as the heaviest 24-hour rainfall yet documented (in 1934) by the local US Weather Bureau (rainfall measurement began in 1877).  By midnight on December 31, 1934, the San Gabriel Mountains, towering above the Los Angeles basin, began to discharge massive debris flows of mud, rocks and trees down dozens of steep narrow canyons.  The debris flows reached the basin floor as 20-foot walls of water, as they had done for eons.  

Upon reaching the basin floor the colossal debris flows buried 200 houses and rendered another 400 uninhabitable.  Also buried were around 800 mostly Model "A" cars in Montrose, La Crescenta, and other foothill communities in the narrow La Canada Valley between the San Gabriel and Verdugo Mountains.  Five people were killed at a New Year's Eve party in a Montrose home buried by debris flow; ten bodies were pulled from a debris flow in La Crescenta; and 25 men, women, and children were drowned at the Red Cross headquarters at the American Legion Hall at Montrose Boulevard and La Crescenta when a wall of water tore open the building.  The Los Angeles County coroner collected around 40 bodies and noted 75 people missing by January 4, 1934.  The destruction was so complete that three years after the disaster, 45 persons remained unaccounted for." 

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