(Note: From the Homefront Diaries of Lorraine Shatterbuck is a fictional diary and a WIP by Frances O’Roark Dowell.)
October 22, 1942
Phyllis stopped by yesterday with some gingerbread and her copy of Elliot Paul’s The Last Time I Saw Paris, which she loved and is dying for me to read. It’s all about the time the author spent in Paris after the first world war ended and before the second world war began (doesn’t “world war” sound awful? It’s frightening to contemplate). According to Phyll, The Last Time I Saw Paris is an in-depth look at all the different people who lived on Paul’s street, and when I’m done reading it I’ll be desperate to move to France. “Maybe after the war is over,” I told her. “Nazi-occupied Paris doesn’t sound like much fun.” “After the war!” Phyll declared, fist raised. It’s her latest motto. She’s going to do all sorts of wonderful things after the war is over and Ralph gets back and her children grow up and leave home and she can send her horrible dog to live on her brother’s farm … on and on.
I’m happy to report that Phyll is quite taken by the notion of making quilts. She’s always hated sewing dresses, and as a result is terrible at it, but the artist in her is intrigued by quilt-making. She thinks we should make a quilting society and invite other women whose husbands are fighting overseas to join us. I don’t know. I’m not lacking for a social life. It’s solitary pursuits and quiet that I’m in need of! But as Phyll points out, my living room is the size of a football field, and though she’s exaggerating, it is large as living rooms go. I’ve heard that the family that built the house loved having dance parties, and while a ball room would be ridiculous in a house like this, a spacious living room didn’t seem out of place. People thought Jim and I were crazy for buying such a big house, but it was priced to sell, and Jim said if we didn’t fill it up with children, we’d turn around and sell it when the market was better. Well, fill it up with children we did, and now I couldn’t be happier for all the space we have. I feel a bit spoiled, especially when I think of Mother raising six children in a three-bedroom bungalow!
Phyll has a long list of women she wants to ask to join us in our quilt-making, all of whom live within a three-block radius. Sometimes it seems like every able man in Milton Falls enlisted after Pearl Harbor. I feel sorry for the ones who were turned away because of infirmity. When Bob Calhoun and Marty Webb came over last week to say goodbye to Jim, they went into great detail about how they’d been the first ones in line at the recruitment office on December 8. Bob got turned away because he’s terribly nearsighted and Marty has a heart murmur. But they both work hard as air wardens and running scrap drives, not to mention that they help all the families whose husbands and fathers are off at war. I imagine when Christmas comes, they’ll be stringing lights on trees up and down Orange Street and beyond.
Oh, dear–it’s almost time to get Janet. Will is still sound asleep and I so hate to wake a sleeping baby, but I suppose I must.