Bread and Butter Days
by Trisha Faye
At least from 1948 to 1952 she did. Flora had a five year diary and she wrote every single day. If she wrote that consistently for five years, I assume she did for others. But, unfortunately, I don’t have those diaries.
I do have the one she used during this five year period. I fortuitously discovered it 38 years after her death. Her last entry was 62 years ago. Somehow, her words have survived. Flora’s penmanship outlived her.
Flora didn’t move very far in her life. She was born in Springdale, Arkansas on August 29, 1893. She married Alvin Luper on April 15, 1917. They had four children: Thord (b. June 8, 1918), Marjorie (b. 1920), Wade (b. 1921), and Dorothy – called Dot (b. November 23, 1929). Flora died August 13, 1976 and is buried in Stuckey Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She lies next to Al, her husband that followed her in death seven months later (March 9, 1977).
Most of the journal entries documenting Flora’s daily life are mundane. She did wash. She sewed. She ironed. Coupled with ohter fascinating bits and pieces, this little book tells the story of the life of an average housewife over sixty years ago. She tells the prices she got for her milk and eggs, what she paid for her new range, how much she paid for an electric bill, what she did in the crops, how much she made from the factory, who came for dinner, and what they had. She also mentions when she and Al had an evening out at The Ozark, a local Fayetteville theater that doesn’t exist anymore.
Here are a few entries from March 1948 that share what was happening in Flora’s life then.
March 8, 1948 Bad weather again. The horses got out. Went to Stamper’s. Sold my eggs to Leo Ball. 40¢ per. doz. Rode to the store with Loy. Back with Lynn.
March 12, 1948 Cold this morn. Apples froze in the cellar. Al gone to work. Saw no one today. Cold and bad weather. Sewed some. Tea towels. Al about sick with cold.
March 21, 1948 Electric off for about 5 hrs. Dot left at 12:05. We had roast beef, hot rolls, ice cream and chocolate pie for dinner. Aunt Lizzie Nolan & family came this eve. Rainy and warm today.
March 23, 1948 Al hauled the men today. Rained last night. Sun trying to shine today. I’ve washed kitchen curtains. Mildred & I went to Springdale. Ate with Mozelli Graham and Aunt Lizzie. Came home, ironed my clothes.
March 26, 1948 Went to the factory at 7 with Al. Worked in the spinach from 8 to 4:30. Ate with Joy. An old dog got my dinner. Cool today. Ross has new truck.
March 30, 1948 Stormed a little late today. Al stayed home to make garden today. Tied some grapes. Planted peas, potatoes, lettuce, radish, onions, strawberries, corn.
The W.M.U. meeting on March 4th was a women’s auxiliary of the New Hope Baptist Church, in Johnson, Arkansas. Ola, who left her purse at Flora’s, was married to Tom Rothrock, the Sunday School superintendent. Ola died the following year, 1949, and is buried in Bluff Cemetery in Springdale.
On March 8th, Flora went to the Stamper’s. Nellie Stamper was also very involved with the church. Nellie Stamper at one time was elected to the nominating committee for deacons. Mrs. Stamper, along with Mrs. Rothrock, was also on a committee to take pledges for the Church fund. Nellie is also buried at Bluff Cemetery in Springdale.
Leo Ball, who bought eggs from Flora, died January 7, 1997, and is also buried in Stuckey Cemetery in Fayetteville. Leo retired from the Fayetteville Public School Maintenance Department.
There’s more to read. More people to try to track down. There’s lots more to discover about this woman from the past. It’s like a treasure hunt, looking for pieces and trying to fit them all together. For now, I’ll celebrate this little slice of life that she left behind.