Before there was Twitter, before there were bloggers, before there was the Internet even, there was the diary of the Rev. Edmund Randolph Laine of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Stockbridge, Mass, a minister who was born to tweet. Heck, "Mrs. Cooper came about lighting of Christmas tree on lawn." "E. to Air Raid School." 7 - "Amos & Andy." Less than twenty words and you've got three Facebook status updates right there.
More than a decade ago I photocopied the minister's diary for the period from 1941 to 1945 after visiting the Stockbridge Library history room to see what Laine wrote the day Ed Forrest was killed. Laine raised Ed in the rectory of St. Paul's from the time he was 14. Ed and my father, 2nd Lt. Maurice Elson, knew each other in combat with the 712th Tank Battalion, and my father often spoke of Ed. My dad was wounded on Dec. 10, 1944 and didn't return to the battalion. Ed was killed on April 3, 1945.
After speaking at the Stockbridge Library this month about Ed Forrest and my book "The Armored Fist," I found there was great interest in Laine's diary among the audience, so I decided to revisit it, and now from time to time I'll be posting a week's worth of entries. Forgive the question marks where I was unable to decipher his handwriting, and the occasional misspelling of a name or outright mistake.
If you'd like to start at the beginning -- I began posting diary entries from December 1, 1941 -- you can see them here.
Dec. 1-7, 1941
Dec. 8-15, 1941
Dec. 15-22, 1941
Dec. 22: (Monday) (Shortest day of Year) (Pres. signed new draft bill to-day) Very cold, sunny. Up 10:50. 11 - News. Ans. some responses. Read "Times." 2 - Mrs. Merwin & Mrs. Cooper came about lighting of Christmas tree on lawn. Letter from Mrs. Clapper about Carlyn. Read "Eagle" & in "Times." Wrote some answers. Box of fruit received from Mr. & Mrs. Parsons from Florida. 6 - News. Eve. ─ 6:45 - News from Washington, Manila, London. 7 -"Amos & Andy." E to Air Raid School. Miss F. & I wrapped up some Christmas presents. Read in "The Hero in America." 9 - Quincy Howe. 10- Raymond Gram Swing. Had ham sandwiches. 11 - News. 11:15 - to P.O.
|December 23, 1941|
Dec. 23: (Tuesday) Fairly cold, gray, began to rain (drizzle) 1, slippery. Up 11, shaved. (Radio - News & "Pepper Young's Family." Worked on press notices for Mrs. Davidson. 2 - to Glendale to see Mrs. Clapper about Carlyn Markham affair - then on to Pittsfield to see Mrs. W. Pitt Palmer at House of Mercy (bad going) - operation on eyes - she will never see - home 4:30. Gift of Whitney engraving from Mrs. Drake. Wrote card of thanks to her. Ate some nuts. 5:15 - Rev. W.E. Soule called - told of dismissal from St. Edmund's School - went 6:10. Have slight cold. Eve. - wrote some more Christmas cards. E. to air raid school. Read "Eagle." 9 - Quincy Howe. 9:15 to Post Office - drizzle. 9:30 - "Fibber McGee." 10 - Raymond Gram Swing. Had orange, bran muffin & milk. 11 - to bed - tired.
|December 24, 1941|
Dec. 24: (Wednesday - Christmas Eve) Very warm, rained hard a.m., then cleared, some sun. Restless night - have heavy cold. Up 11:10, shaved, syhower bath. Fixed turkeys & chickens & wine jelly for distribution. 2 - C.M. delivered. Then Rev. W.E. Soule called. Put out Christmas tree on Dining Room table & Christmas picture on hall table & wreath on door. 3:45 - read "Times." 4 - News. 5 - Speeches at the lighting of White House Christmas tree - Pres. Roosevelt & Winston Churchill. Picked out psalm & lessons for evening. Wrote note of thanks to Mrs. Merwin. 6 - News. Eve. - wrote note to Mr. Norman H. Davis. 8 - Evening prayer (good cong.) & Carols - over 9:05. Malcolm French & his wife in 9. 11 - to bed - feeling very sick with cold.
|December 25, 1941|
Dec. 25: (Thursday - Christmas Day) Mild, gray. Had restless night, nose bled. Up 6:45, shaved. 8 - Holy Com. (17) - C.M. served. Had presents in Dining Room afterward. C.M. took me to S. Lee - 9:15 - spoke at (?) - back 10:20. 11 - Stockbridge - good cong. - no sermon. Alexander Sedgwick (?) - over 1:20. (?) Dinner - 1:15 - turkey, duck, champagne. Quite gray. Sent some jelly to Mrs. Sperry. 3:45 - E. took Miss F. home. 4 - ride with E. to Lebanon - home 5. Ate orange. Read "Times." Wrote ans. to Rev. R.H. Hayden about Amicus Retreat. 6 - News. E. came & read in Study. Dozed in chair in Study. Radio music. Wrote letter to Miss Robinson Smith. 7:30 - Arthur Hale. E. went to air raid center. Finished "The Hero in America." 9 - Quincy Howe. 10 - Raymond Gram Swing. Had ice cream & apple. 11 - News.
|December 26, 1941|
Dec. 26: (Friday) Cool, gray. Up 11:45, shaved. Noon - News. 12:30 - speech of Hon. Winston Churchill bef. Senate & House of Representatives - over 1:04. 3 - to Derricks & Bramans - bot presents for acolytes & others. Lucy Beacco called soliciting for soldiers. To Library & then to see Mrs. Guerrieri - back from Hospital. Read "Eagle." Read in "Times." 6 - News. Eve - E. to Air Raid School. D. Braman in 7:45 - talked with him until 11. E. back 10. 11 - News. 12 - News.
|December 27, 1941|
Dec. 27: (Saturday) Mild, gray, drizzle at times. Up 10:30. Read "Times" & in Hindus' "Hitler Cannot Conquer Russia." 2 - "Lakme" from Met. Opera. E. helping C.M. trimming Christmas Tree in Parish House. 3:15 - 2nd sunrise prayer meeting at door. 6 - News. Had turkey back for dinner. E. took his radio to Lee & had it fixed. Read in "Wild is the River" - finished it. Worked on sermon. E. to Occ. Club. Shower bath. 10:30 - to bed.
|December 28, 1941|
Dec. 28: (Holy Innocents, Christmas I) Cold, gray, sun out 11:30. Up 7:35, shaved. 9:15 - S. Lee - "The Christ Child" - back 10. Grace Tennison. 11 - Stockbridge - "Lessons for to-day from Bethlehem" - 8(?) Matt. 18, V.1, (?)3. (22 min.) Holy Com. Had cold turkey for lunch. Read in "Times." 3:15 - ride to Chatham - back 4:20. Put some presents under Christmas tree in Parish House. Read in "Times." 5 - Met. Opera auditions. Joanna Franz phoned. E. read in study. 5:45 - Wm. L. Shirer. 6:30 - changed clothes. 6:50 - to church. 7 - Church School Service - then 7:18 - to Parish House - Christmas Party - over 8:10. 9 - Ford Hour - Rise Stevens. Letter from Bp. Lawrence. Snowing. 11 - News. 11:15 - Caesar Searchinger.