Thursday, October 3rd, 1935

“I have cut hay, cooked dinner, and washed.”


Is Bernice using a scythe to cut hay by hand? Such an ancient technology.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Wednesday, October 2nd, 1935

“I have cooked dinner and … picked green butterbeans. Went to have supper with Uncle John as it was his birthday.”


Here’s where the diary gets hard to read. A few pages have been damaged by time.
Are green butterbeans the same as Lima beans?

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Tuesday, October 1st, 1935

“Just cooked dinner and picked peas again.”


Bernice’s life was filled with hard work, but she was fortunate to have a permanent address. Photographer Dorothea Lange captured the famous “Migrant Mother” image below in 1936, with the caption “Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two.”



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Monday, September 30th, 1935

“cooked dinner and picked peas again. Samuel came to spend the night with us.”

Day two with the speckled peas. And Bernice is usually scrupulous about grammar and capitalization, so she must be tired today. Will Samuel help out? I hope so.


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Sunday, September 29th, 1935

“I have been picking speckled peas for this day.”


Speckled peas? Sorry Bernice, I wouldn’t know a speckled pea from a speckled trout.

I’m guessing that this is a pea somewhat like a purple hull, or blackeyed pea. Anyone?

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Saturday, September 28, 1935

“I have cleaned house, then I went to carry Mrs. Henigan some butterbeans, came back home and cooked dinner. After dinner I went to get some huckleberries & persimmons.”


Bernice’s diet sounds full of variety. It sounds like there is exchanging and sharing of food going on in her community. I picture her cultivating a kitchen garden.


Wikipedia: Raised-bed Gardening

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Friday, September 27, 1935

“I have cooked dinner and washed some. Helped Dick with the door steps.”

Cooking, washing, and home repairs. Bernice’s older brother Dick isn’t well. He has less than a year to live, and will have several trips to the doctor in the months to come. What his illness is, I don’t know, and Bernice will not reveal the particulars in her daily entries.


In 1935, penicillin is still undergoing clinical trials, and will not be widely available until after World War II. Hard to imagine life without it, in 2013.


Wikipedia: Penicillin

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