GRANDMA'S DIARIES • Dec. 1953–Grandma Gets First TV


And so another year ends for Grandma and Grandpa. 1953 has been so dry. Folks began hauling water during the summer, because many wells had run dry, and they are still having to haul water to fill the cisterns. Grandma and Grandpa decide it's time to purchase a television set. I was surprised at the price, nearly $350. That seems very expensive when I think what that amount might equal in today's dollars. This would begin a decade of helping them figure out exactly how to operate it. If they turned a knob too far, one way or the other, the picture would disappear. I sympathize with them now, when I have to call a grandchild to help me when I have messed up my computer. Corky, their much loved German Shepherd, has some serious health problems during December. He had been with them since he was a puppy, and was such a good boy. I was reminded of the beautiful white Bible they gave me for Christmas. I loved it. I still had it until 1993 when my house burned. By that time it had little notes and underlinings of special verses. It also held some hand made book marks created for me by Marie Henry, my Sunday School teacher. Grandpa's Christmas gift of a TV lamp brought back some memories. Do you remember that nearly every home that had a television also had to have a TV lamp? Some of them were very fancy and ornate.  As I recall we always turned down the overhead lights and table lamps to dim the room and used the TV lamp which always sat on the television set. Why did we do that? I have no idea. I hope all of you who enjoy Grandma's Diary have wonderful holidays. As we look forward to 1954 and 2021 let us remember simpler times when just having our families together and safe was enough. 

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 1953–We took Mary Nimmons, Florence Robinson and Grace Campbell and went to a scrambled dinner at Mamie McCammon's. After dinner we sewed rags, cut them too. We had a silent auction and white elephant sale. Netted the Helping Hand $13. St. Louis Producer News says a number of counties in the U.S. were on drought disaster list as of Dec. 1.

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1953–Slight showers. Wayne came, and he and Carl put in our storm windows and set up our living room stove. Geraldine went shopping, but came here for dinner. We went to the Community House to help 15 others make cancer dressings. Mrs. Keith and Fred Taylors here for the evening. Initiation for ATA candidates.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 1953–Showery, 48 degrees. We went to Sears at Hillsboro and picked out a television set. Max Swartz brought it at 3 p.m. Sure has a plain picture. John Keith came, and he and Carl worked out the farm expenses for the year.

Friday, Dec. 4, 1953–Corky (German Shepherd) can't walk but a few steps.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 1953–Dr. Vail, veterinarian, came late evening to see Corky. He gave him two shots in the hips although he said he didn't know what was his trouble.

Sunday, Dec. 6, 1953–We didn't go to Sunday School. I still have a lot of cold in my nose. Waynes came after their Sunday School to see the television. Roy Loucks brought the two cows and calf.

Monday, Dec. 7, 1953–I washed, then ironed after supper. I made an apron with handkerchief points to put in the Christmas exchange at Mrs. Powell's tomorrow. We gave Corky two tablespoons of castor oil. He liked the taste, but it didn't do any good. Clara Neihaus gave me a pink violet.

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1953–Sprinkle through night. Very bad looking clouds in southwest, but no rain. We went to Hillsboro. Carl to see about fertilizer while the limit (government) for same is still good. Max Swartz came to get pay for the TV set, $346.75. We didn't take insurance at $34.95.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 1953–I renewed my subscription to Workbasket, $1 for one year. We went to see Corky at the Strattmier Animal Hospital, but decided to leave him until next Tuesday.

Sunday, Dec. 13, 1953–Clear. I went to church and Sunday School. Carl didn't go. We went to the George Ware's 60th wedding anniversary at the Community House. At 3:30 we left for Glen Longworths, Taylorville. We had a nice lunch. George and Fern and Kate there. We stayed all night at George's. We went to see Linda play her accordion on the Decatur TV.

Monday, Dec. 14, 1953–Snowed all morning. We left George Best's at 11:30. Stopped at Morrisonville, ate lunch, bought Carole a white Bible, $5.50 with her name imprinted. Got home at 2 p.m. Margaret had brought Connie's new doll bed for me to make bedding.

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 1953–Cloudy. I washed. Dried clothes in the house. We went to Hillsboro. Carl, late, went to the AAA office where he signed up for the 1954 soil conservation program. We brought Corky home. His hind legs are better, but he has little use of the front ones. Paid doctor $6 for Corky doctoring.

Friday, Dec. 18, 1953–Colder. All day Christmas meeting at Harriet Busby's. I didn't go until after noon. Corky has to be helped outside when he wants to go. Lily Crawford gave me a lovely box of handkerchiefs as I was her Sunshine Sister. I gave Margaret 2 dish towels and 2 pot holders for she was my Sunshine Sister.

Saturday, Dec. 19, 1953–Clear, not so cold. We went to Hillsboro about 10:30. Crowd wasn't so bad. Our car heater doesn't work very good. Merle examined it then Carl took it to Herman’s. We watched wrestling. Carl got so interested he burned a hole in his pants. Ha!

Monday, Dec. 21, 1953–Looks stormy. I took the eggs to Litchfield, 48 cents for grade A. Still had to get Linda a dress. I bought 3.14 chuck roast to make bar-b-que. It was 39 cents per pound. At three we took Corky back to Dr. Strattmier. He gave him a shot and no medicine. Said to give him meat. 180 to 230 -pound hogs, $24.75.

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1953–Cold, snow flurries. I baked an angel food cake. Made bar-b-que, wrapped our gifts. Wayne’s came at five, and we all went to Merle's for supper and gift exchange. Tried to call Alberta. No luck. She sent me a white stole. Dad, two cartons of Life cigarettes. Wayne’s and Merle’s gave me a picnic lunch basket and Dad a TV lamp. Corky took a few steps.

Thursday, Dec. 24, 1953–Clear and so dry. Everyone still hauling water that had been doing so all fall. Went to church to the Christmas program. I was asked to give the opening prayer. I didn't do too good.

Friday, Dec. 25, 1953–Clear, cold. I took cranberry sauce, and we went to Wayne's for dinner. Morey, James (Ward) family, Leno Rovena were also there. We had ham, baked hen, etc. Had to leave Corky in the kitchen, but he was all right. Larry got a shotgun, etc.; Linda, a doll, etc. They got a deep fryer with the $10 Dad gave them. Merle’s invested their $10 in a clock. Alberta got a nylon blouse, Albert a shirt and Billy, house slippers.

Saturday, Dec. 26, 1953–Cold. We went to Hillsboro, but got home by 2:30. Carole came home with us. Walker's store closed because of Harry Walker's death. I ironed.

Sunday, Dec. 27, 1953–Carole and I went to church and Sunday School. Later we watched TV. Corky can walk some. Patty Ward and Leno Roveno married 6:30 p.m at Harvel. We didn't go.

Monday, Dec. 28, 1953–Cloudy. I didn't wash. We took Carole home and then took the eggs, 45 dozen, to Litchfield. Grade A 48 cents. Went to see what Dr. Strattmier would charge to test our red cow. He wasn't home. Corky walked to the hen house and then to the barn. He is stiff and unsteady on his feet. 

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 1953–I washed, baked a lemon pie and went to the Community House to the fox drive dinner. Got home by 1 p.m. Linda came to stay while Geraldine took Larry to the doctor. He has had a sore throat.

End of diary notes: Garden plants purchased: 10 regal lilies, 10 coral lilies, tomato seed, 10 geranium seed, 2 gloxinia bulbs, asters, cosmos, dianthus, morning glory, petunia, zinnia, 6 giant glads, snapdragons, larkspur, pink baby breath, California lily, auratum,

Quilts finished in 1953: Eliza Turner, Naomi Stein, Mary Nimmons, Florence Robinson, Harriet Busby, Lela Green.

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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