Archives for posts with tag: seances

In little Dorma’s first days, our diarist leads a leisurely life while her Mama works her fingers to the bone washing, ironing, and sewing.  All of Baby’s clothing and diapers are hand-made (Moms, can you imagine this??)  Mama gets a small break one evening when she pays a visit to the Missoula Spiritualists and makes a successful connection with the beloved dead:

Image

Spiritualist surrealism: poster art courtesy of http://dainasurrealism.blogspot.com/2012/05/daina-elegant-surrealist-art.html

 

“Mon. Mar. 20

Mama was busy all day changeing Dormas pants.

            Jay went down to the Dr in morning & got Baby some colic medicine.

            Mama cut out my night gown & then it was night again.  Poor Mama is one busy gal.

 

Tue. Mar. 21

Mama washed & Jay helped what he could.

            Got thru about one & then she made my night gown all but the little holes & edgeing.

            Baby was pretty good all nite.

            Mrs. Muckler & the two girls were over in the evening. 

            Jay was down town most of the p.m.

            Beautiful day.

 

Wed. Mar. 22

Mama finished up my night gown, did some ironing, & was busy as a bee all day. 

In the evening Jay, Mama, Uncle Al, Baileys & the girls went a Spiritualist meeting and Grandma come to Mama. 

            Vera Dixon came over to see Dorma.  Aunt Lue stayed with me & kept Elvin also

            Dorma was good & slept all night fine.

            Snowed in the night but was soon gone.”

I wonder what Mama said to her mother: surely she reported the happy news of great grand-daughter Dorma’s birth! 

 

Advertisements

Here’s what I love about these mysterious diaries: our lady writer drops an intriguing hint that reveals 1920s life, before bringing the focus back to her own personal life.

“Sat. March 18

Ruth made preparations for going home.

Esther Nelson came up in forenoon & brot me a box of candy to pay her bet.  Glen came about 10:30 & Esther & he were both here for dinner.

Mama was busy all day long.

Mrs. McDonald & Mrs. Andrews came to see the Baby in afternoon.

Lovely day but so muddy.

Randalls & Jay went to the dance over at Rubys.

The Dr. came in the morning.  Elmer & Howard Carroll was here a little while in P.m.

In evening Jay & Randalls went to a Spiritualist Lecture.

Baby had the colic all evening.

Beautiful Day.”

What grabs my attention this time is the Spiritualist Lecture.  From the late 1800s and into the Great Depression, the entire western world was obsessed with spiritualism.  Séances were conducted to communicate with the spirits: sometimes famous people, but mostly the beloved dead.  Like midwifery, spiritualism was carried out by lay people who were mostly women–so guess what?  It was roundly condemned by established churches (reminds me of the Harry Potter kerfuffle 10 years ago).

Clearly, 1920s Montanans were intrigued by spiritualism– even a young rancher like our diarist’s husband Jay.  The killing fields of World War I (or the Great War) and the horrific influenza pandemic were barely four years past, and so many people had ‘crossed over’.

A cool blog about spiritualism in California during the roaring ’20s: http://steampunkopera.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/los-angeles-and-the-1920s-occult-explosion/