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Ramona's Ramblings

Grandma’s Diary, December 1913

Ramona Jan
Posted 12/6/22

My grandmother, Lina Dreher, was born January 28th, 1897 or so she thought. In the late 1800’s people born at home did not typically get birth certificates. With nine Dreher homebirths, all …

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Ramona's Ramblings

Grandma’s Diary, December 1913


My grandmother, Lina Dreher, was born January 28th, 1897 or so she thought. In the late 1800’s people born at home did not typically get birth certificates. With nine Dreher homebirths, all that was remembered were the seasons and that Lina’s occurred in the winter time. When my grandmother was in her sixties, she inquired of the state to see if there was a birth record and, surprisingly, there was. Although for her entire life her birthday was celebrated in January, her official birthday was, according to state record, December 30th, 1896. From that point forward, she celebrated both dates. (Names mentioned are those of her brothers and sisters except Lucy and Daisy who were friends of the family).

Dec 3rd

I started playing piano yesterday. I’m going to try to learn music. I will take a lesson by myself and practice it for a week and then take a new one, etc. etc.

Dec 9th

Went to Newark to buy a few Christmas presents for the kids and Tillie and Hattie. I bought an autograph book for Hattie, paid 59 cents for it, and an umbrella for Fred, paid 50 cents for it, a picture frame for Tillie that will hold four cabinets, paid 40 cents, [and] a box of paints for Mary, paid 10 cents. Altogether, I spent $1.59. It was all our savings put together, so we don’t know who to say they’re from. [Note: Mary grew up to be a fine artist and in today’s world may have been considered transsexual. Although the following is not odd for a woman today, in the early 1900’s, Mary dressed in men’s clothing, had a boy’s haircut, smoked cigars, was an excellent carpenter and never dated or married a man. She eventually committed suicide by hanging.] 

Dec 10th

Tillie got a letter from Lucy saying that they are going to open a confectionary, cigar and tobacco store tomorrow! Lucy thinks she will like it. Tillie is going up to see Lucy next Sunday.

Dec 11th

Poor Em! She’d just be of age now if she had lived. {Emily died about a year earlier at age 20 of tuberculosis]. 


Tillie’s birthday. Just think, she’s 23 years-old! She got $5.00 from Pa, a handkerchief from Helen, a wastebasket from Mary and a box of writing paper from Freddie. As for me, I can’t give her anything for I have no money.

Dec 14th

Daisy Matson was here today. She looks a bit healthier that last time. She gained seven pounds. She now weighs 119. Promised Daisy that Hattie and I would come up to see her next Sunday.

Dec 15th

Went to Newark and bought a rain cape for Helen. I had Freddie with me and I bought shoes for him ($1.65). Helen’s rain cape cost $1.49. Of course, Freddie wanted a raincoat when he saw Helen’s so I tried all over Bamberger’s and Goerke’s but couldn’t get one small enough at a reasonable price. [Fred was the youngest and only boy in the family].

Dec 16th

Went collecting today [she had to collect money due for the family bakery by visiting the customers at their private homes who were buying on credit] and started out late so I naturally got back late. I went with Mary to carry an order and I got home about quarter or half past seven. [She also had to deliver bakery orders and often started work at four in the morning]. We don’t know what to buy Mary for Christmas. We haven’t bought a single thing for either her or Joe or Pa.

To be continued…

RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at callicoonwalkingtours@gmail.com.


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  • .

    Make it stop, please!!!

    Thursday, December 8, 2022 Report this