I don’t remember my first birthday.

Can anyone recall that far back in time?

But I do remember the highchair because all four of us children used it.

And I remember the backyard at my parents’ house, the clothesline, and of course the outhouse, in later years guarded by a mulberry bush.




My Aunt Ruthie’s diary fills in some detail of those early years.

Ruth M. Longenecker archives, diary July 21 – 24, 1944


July 21

Friday, Cloudy, cleaned, trimmed some yard. In corn field & pulled weeds this P.M. A Promise of plenty of work for tomorrow. Marian can say all of Humpty Dumpty and most of all other rhymes. She insisted on having a big paper clamp on each pigtail.

July 22

I say, what is the use of cleaning? Who’d ever know I scrubbed both porches, Washed up & waxed the kitchen and bathroom, washed all the windows, etc. etc? The dog tracked up the porch. The ducks messed up the walks, some one spilt ground [dirt] on the steps, etc.

July 23

Sunday Hot – HOT! Down to see Aunt Ellen & Anna this eve. Played croquet with Ben & Mary Emenheiser, Anna & I. Today was Ruth’s [my mother’s] birthday.

July 24

Marian’s birthday and quite a day for her. As for me – not so wonderful. At 6 I tied Baa [her sheep] around & he was nice as could be. At 9:30 came home from Ray’s & there he lay – He must have eaten night shade or something. I’m done!!!

Note: I wonder if Aunt Ruthie bought another lamb. I was three at the time her sheep died, and I may be older than three in the photo below. (I suppose more searching in the diary could solve the mystery.)




July 1945

Intentionally or not, imitating the style of British diarist Samuel Pepys, Ruthie records the weather and mundane activities but sneaks in what (to me) are some gems here and there.


Ruth M. Longenecker archives, diary July 21 – 23, 1945


July 21, 1945

Beans, beans, & weeds I pulled this A.M. & some this afternoon. – At 3:30 Myra, Ethel Anna & I left for Doylestown. We’re visiting Esther, Anna, Maggie and Emma Histand. Did I ever see some beautiful evergreen trees. This has been a beautiful day.

 July 22, 1945

We were at Doylestown church. These girls surely are friendly. At 3:30 we left for home in some rain. But we never realized what we were coming to. At Lanc. Bridge the water was over the road about 2 ft & at Mt. Joy 4 ft so over water & finally drive around by E. Petersburg. E-town really was flooded. There was much damage, Diner [Clearview?] was moved across the road etc.

July 23, 1945

Mon. cloudy this A.M. had cleared some this P.M. working away on Bookkeeeping & that says all.

July 24,1945

Tues. cloudy but cleared some. Ma washed & I ironed most everything tonight. Received an invitation to [Phares] Jr. Longenecker’s shower on Aug. 4 & today Marian was four. I got her a sweat shirt & she insisted on wearing it in all this heat.



Do you recall early birthdays? If so, do share an anecdote.

Twice my aunt’s diary uses the word “insisted” referring to my strong will. What personality traits surfaced in your early years? Did you hear about them through conversations? Letters or diaries?

In the July 22, 1944 entry, the diarist complains of the futility of cleaning. What parts of her lament can you relate to?

As a child, did you experience the death of a pet?