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From the Homefront Diaries of Lorraine Shatterbuck (entry #5)

(Note: From the Homefront Diaries of Lorraine Shatterbuck is a fictional diary and a WIP by Frances O’Roark Dowell.)

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November 15, 1942

I thought I would write in this diary every day as a way of keeping a detailed record of our daily life to share with Jim when he comes home. But given that I write him letters every day, there’s no need to make a duplicate record here. Still, from time to time I enjoy opening these pages and writing about the things that Jim wouldn’t find of much interest–at least not in detail.

Of course, I’ve written to Jim about the quilting group that now meets at my house on Thursday mornings, though I don’t go too much into particulars, mostly because I know he’d rather I write about the children. Our quilting group–Phyllis says “bee” is much too old-fashioned, though I rather like it–is small so far, just six of us, though two of the girls say they know of others who might like to join. I say the more the merrier! After all, the point of the group is to meet other women whose husbands are fighting in the war. And of course to make quilts, but sometimes that seems like a secondary pursuit and the real reason we’ve gathered is to talk and talk and talk.

After the first meeting of our quilting society was over, Phyllis stayed to help finish cleaning up–and to gossip. I had to laugh when Phyl pointed out that our new friends resembled nothing more than the cast of characters from Little Women. It’s so true! First, we have Betty Spinner, who’s sensible, pretty and a bit of a social striver, though too nice to actually get very far up the high society ladder. She arrived at the first meeting with her friend, Willamina “Billie” Paulette, who she fussed at the entire time. Billie–imagine Jo March after she cut her hair for cash–has a broad, friendly face, wears trousers without fail, snaps her gum, and yells “Damn!” whenever she makes a mistake. Each and every time, Betty seems absolutely shocked, although the two of them have been friends since high school. “Billie! Betty exclaims when Billie curses. “Language!”

Louise Mendelsohn is a friend of Phyl’s; they both attend Beth Israel. Louise is most certainly our Beth. Quiet as a mouse, but absolutely delighted by Billie’s antics. According to Phyllis, she’s also an accomplished pianist, but when I asked her if she would play for us last week, she blushed all the way to her hairline and gave a violent shake of her head, as though the suggestion she might play was absolutely out of the question.

Finally, there’s Gracie Obenchain, whose real name is Gretchen. She changed it to Gracie when Hitler invaded Paris. She is an accomplished artist and a very talented quiltmaker from what I’ve seen. She’s also quite pretty and has yet to pass the mirror in the foyer without getting a glimpse of her reflection and smiling at herself. For all of her vanity, she’s truly charming. Her husband, according to Phyllis, is wealthy and could have easily avoided serving. But he signed up to do his duty and has been overseas for a year now. Gracie’s has a two-year-old who her mother watches so she can come to our little group on Thursdays.

We have met two times now and have had wonderful, lively conversations. Not much quilting has taken place, but we all agreed last week that we will get serious about quilting at our next meeting. We are discussing making quilts to give away, though to whom–well, we haven’t decided that yet.

Time to put the potatoes on for dinner. Why does it always feel like it’s time to put the potatoes on? I guess because it always is!


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