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Old Magazines Describe Christmas

One of the best sources for information about Christmases in the past is old magazines from December. For over a century now, womens’ magazines in particular have devoted the entire issue to Christmas activities, preparation and food.

A 1914 copy of The Modern Priscilla, for instance, has two pages of inexpensive gifts and pleasures that can be made at home (including a lidded snowball receptacle!) There’s another page devoted to gifts that can be eaten. (How about homemade cottage cheese as a gift?)

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Diary Goes Public 100 years Later
(Not Typed!)

by Janet Rich

Page from Charles Brown's diary.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public.”  At the time I bought the old diary, I had no idea I would one day share its secrets.

For the past forty years, my passion for antiques has driven me to search and collect treasures from the past. Addicted to old paper, letters, books, and artwork, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, researching each item and finding them a home.

When I discovered Brown’s diary, I was aware of buying someone’s secrets and pondered if I had the right to read it. However, I found his intriguing inscription was irresistible. “In this book are recorded my evil deeds, but only for one year.”  C.S. Brown, 1899, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.   

Charles Stanley Brown.

The tantalizing journal, written over 100 years ago, was a challenge to decipher as each page was filled with cryptic fountain pen script, jerky slashes and dramatic squiggles. I wondered if the author ever considered the possibility someone might read his personal thoughts; how many people held the diary over the years and if anyone had taken the time to read it.  

Charles Stanley Brown’s unforgettable journal is filled with academic struggle, college mischief and the pursuit of love. A junior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Charles hopes to write a best-selling novel, graduate from Harvard and find a wife. A highly intellectual, dramatic and emotional poet, Charles falls in love frequently and reveals his pain. He boasts of being intellectually superior, but admits he is cynical, humorless, and egotistical. “The greatest mischief that I have made since I came to this college was when I moved into this damn place, with these damn people.”

Brown’s diary changed my life. It became a full time hobby and fulfilled my life-long goal of writing a book. Charles’ Tell-Tale Diary of 1899 was published in time to celebrate my 70th birthday and is currently available on Amazon.  From it, one can learn who he married, what he did for a living, where he lived and how he died -and discover how a diary from Maine ended up at a swap meet in Packwood, Washington.

Janet Hall Rich, author of Charles’ Tell-Tale Diary of 1899.

About the Author:

Jan Rich lives in Lakewood, Washington with her husband, David, a retired high school principal. Her career experience includes four years as a legal assistant, sixteen years in health care, and eight years in telecommunications.

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