Feb 14, 2010

The Fairfax Diary

In around 1968 I purchased a old piece of furniture in Fairfax, Virginia. Tucked in back of a drawer was a daily memorandum calendar from 1920, written by an unidentified young man. At the time, I thought it would be interesting to track down the man who would be 70 or so years old then, and return his memories. I never did, and now another 40 years have passed. It's too late to find him, and I suppose the information is now too old to ring any bells. What grandchild, or great grandchild, would recognize that there was an Helen, Mary and Whit in their family, which lived in the Virginia area in the 1920's? Never the less, in this age of Google searches, I will type in the days of this man's life in 1920. The booklet, which I hadn't touched for many years, is literally disintegrating as I flip the days.

This is a year in the life of a 20 year old man in 1920. Although I don't know his name, we learn things about him. During the year he worked at two different insurance companies in Washington D.C. He loses the first job the day after his 21st. birthday, which is on Labor Day. He commuted during the summer from the family vocation house in Garrett Park, Maryland. He and his father were excited that Harding was elected President.

I have added question marks where I have difficulty with the handwriting. There are a number of heartfelt notations which I will highlight in bold type. I will present January in its entirety to give the feel, then only the more interesting days for the remainder of the year.

Jan.1,Aunt Helen, Mary and uncle Whit came up to dinner, 2, Received $1.50 com. on fire insurance. 3, Worked half day being Saturday. 4,Went to church came home and stayed in house in afternoon because it is very cold. 5,Collected $1.55 today Went back to school ?for 1st time in two week 6 worked pretty hard today 7Went to school tonight 8,went around to Moreland(?) to night 9, Went to school tonight. O.W &R Kowens(?) agree to give me 1/2% on every cust(?) I get for them to sell the house (?) them. 10,Went around to office tonight 11. Went to church and in the afternoon went to Garrett Park(?) 12. Went to school13.Virginna's(?) finger is not doing so well today. Dr. Davidson is going to bring Dr. White tomorrow. 14.Dr. White did not come today. did not go to school tonight.15. Virginnias finger is pretty bad off 16. Went to school tonight 17.fixed up back porch today Virginna's finger is better18. Stayed home in morning but went down to see uncle whit this afternoon19went to school tonight20. Went to see the Moreland tonight21. stayed home from school22.very bad day snowing and sleeting all day23did not go to school tonight24read this afternoon. Mr. G. Fred Thompson funeral was today at 2p.m. from his home 57 21(?) St. N.W. He was a man of few words but was kind to everyone. He was our neighbor in the summer time at Garrett Park.25. Papa is home sick with a cold. I went to church today. Doctor(?) is still coming to see Virginia.26.stayed at home27.Went to see the Moreland28. Went to school tonight29Worked pretty hard today30Went to school tonight31went around to office
February 7, Went around to office tonight. H.R. Howenstein is going to give $70 per month and pay twice month.12, Today is Lincoln's birthday. The man who loved and help weeked(?) and who keeped the U.S. from being divided.18 Papa has been in the Pension office 57 years today20admiral Perry the one who discovered the north (?) died today 21 Maj.Pulman head of police in D.C. is very sick might die 22 Today is the birthday of that great man who loved his fellow man and his country more then himself. George Washington will live in the love and mine(?)forever 23. Maj. R.W. Pulman chief of police died at his home 55 Ivy St. S.E. at 8:05 P.M. Feb.22 He was a square(?) man in every way. went to moreland 29 went to church went to see uncle Whit
March4, Virginia thumb is not so well today Dr. Davison is going to bring Dr. Whit here tomorrow 5, Virginia thumb is better It is snow and blowing very hard 7, Virginia is going up to have exra(?) taken of her finger tomorrow.13, snowed hard today15, every thing gone wrong17, did not go to school. everybody that lives in this world is more or less a fool 21, Mr. Kadn(?) the preacher at Kinsington(?)church is go to leave after next sunday so I went out to hear him and then after service went to garrett park 28, Papa and I went to hear Mr. Kady(?) preach his last sermon at Kingsinton(?)
April 1, walked all day motor broken down 3, went out to garrett park with mama(?) 4, went to church. 25 people gonen(?) 6, going to hospital to have eye fixt(?) No entries from April 7 through 21 22, came home from hospital today 23, went to moreland tonight 26, went up to N.E. office, main office hospital and Emmerson institute 27, collected to rents(?) today 28,Mama is sick tonight Dr. Davidson came to see her
May 1, went to office at night 3, going back to work tomorrow 5, went back to work today, made 40 call 7, went up to see David Clark(?) tonight he brought me home 11, went to Dr. Wilman(?) at 5P.M. 22, went out in country 28, took a long ride this evening on my motorcycle
June 4, Motor broke down 6, went out to garrett park on 9:25 and took long walk about 8 mile and came back on troly(?) 19, went out to G.P. and painted back porch. 23, We moved out to garrett park Md. cost $10
July 3, My vocation starts today at 1:P.M. and back until July 13 , July 4th. (There is a drawing of a flag) 5, had fire work about 3:30 I went over to Kensington to see the army tank and other things 6, This day is the start of my leave. sent motorcycle in by express to have repaired 10, Went to town to get motor cost $10 to repair 11, stayed on front porch and read most of day 13, went to eye Dr. 14,worked 17, road to work on motor 18, Uncle Whit came out to see us 26, Smith motor broke down
August 3, road into Wash and am back 5, road Smith lost top to gas tank cost 1.25 for new one 9, Papa was notified that he would be drop(?) from office on the 20 19, worked 20,Papa's retirement from office starts today 22, went to church at chevy chase start vocation 23, Went to town on business saw one dubasir(?) about making(?) office move 25, repair on wagon, repair on walking beam
Sept. 4, took a ride Papa Mama Virginia in auto up to gatherburg 5, Mr. Dubore came out to see me on 1:37 train and went back on 6:19 6, This is labor day and my birthday I am 21 years of age now 7, Ralph and Owen Howenstein told me that they did not want me after the 15 day of Sept. 1920 8. Owen and Ralph Howenstein or not worth working for (there is another sentence crossed out) 14, tomorrow is my last day with Mr. Howenstein 15, left howenstein today 652 H N.E. 17, am going to take it Mr. Terry got it for me his office. I will be insurance reppre(?) 18, I stayed at home all day will start on new job Sept. 20 19, stayed at home took papa over to church mama went to see Dr. Jones for cold 20 started to work for Barr and Phelps in insurance department 23, made 15 calls 29, we are going to move back to city tomorrow but papa and i are going to stay a few day longer

October 3, going back to city tomorrow 17, Mama Papa Virginia and I went to garrett park on 9:25 train and came back on 6:19 22, painted front and back porch at garrett park 23 Papa and I went doror(?) so far for Harding 30 (Saturday) started to work for Singer sewing machine co. branch off 1630 14 N.W. Mr. Smith work on com
November 1, made 4.10 in fire insurance com 2, Papa and I went down to see come returns come in Harding is the next Pre 3, Harding is the next President Harding got 372 and Cox democrat 137 (written much neater than any other entry so far)
December 17, have not had time to write any been so busy working 23, took off today to shop 25, we had aunt Helen and Mary and Uncle Whit up to dinner. We are not rich but we are happy. God alone knows what is in store for us in the next year. we should take our happy days as may come


Anonymous said...

Papa has been in the Pension office 57 years! Holy Cow!

michael molovinsky said...

that is odd, he must be 77 or so. you would think by now he would qualify for a pension

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think the young man is Thomas W Sargent. He was the younger brother of Virginia Sargent, and their father was Theodore F. Sargent. Their mother was born Sarah Hyatt Whittlesey and two of her sisters were named Helen and Mary.


The first owner of the rebuilt house was Theodore Sargent who worked for the Pension Office. His daughter, Virginia Sargent was a colorful Garrett Park character who founded the Animal Protective Association, Inc. and was known to house on her property many stray animals. She was also fond of feeding the local raccoons peanut butter sandwiches made only with Skippy brand peanut butter.

-Abigail Kabaker
Garrett Park Town Archivist

michael molovinsky said...

Ms. Kabaker, i'm pretty amazed to receive a response over four years later. if you believe that this diary would be of interest to anybody in your area, i would be glad to send it home. you can send such contact information via comment, which will only be visible to me.