January 15, 1927: “poor people ought not have children”

Saturday 15 Dull with light snow. Audrea + her mother went to take went to the centre in the a.m. for Audrea’s violin lesson. Teacher say’s she ought to have private lessons she is doing so well. Don’t know how she can afford it at a dollar + a half a lesson. She will be hampered all her life by poverty. poor people ought not to have children. They have all gone out tonight to buy tomorrows dinner. Lu asked us all down for the twenty first to stay untill Sunday p.m. so Edith may get her hair curled + cut. foolish to go so far for that can have it done here just as well. I shall not go anyway too cold. They have got back. Brought lamb to roast with spinach. had dinner read a little went to bed. An hilarious life.

Notes + Explanations:

Fantastic. I’m not sure what’s funnier: that she thinks “poor people ought not have children”, or that she thinks her daughter and son-in-law are “poor”. Let me just remind you what their house looks like:

the house on Appleton Street

the house on Appleton Street

Well, at least now we know exactly how much Audrey’s violin lessons cost – $1.50 a pop. And I think we can assume that Annie is not paying for them, which leaves the McManus character from the previous entry a mystery still.

Anyway, it seems that they did manage to come up with the money after all, seeing as how Audrey went on to be a professional musician. I can’t say that she was “hampered all her life by poverty”, but she certainly didn’t live the picture of the posh lifestyle that is painted here. She, instead, lived as modestly as most musician/painters do, I think. If Annie had been able to see my grandmother’s future, though, I’m sure it would have classified as a “hampered” life.

Right after she laments at how poor her daughter is, she tells us that she’ll be getting her hair curled and cut in Salem when they go visit the Parkers on the 21st. Maybe there’s a hairdresser there she really likes or something.

Then Annie ends with this odd little phrase: “An hilarious life.” I can’t tell if she’s being sarcastic or not. Perhaps she really finds her life exceedingly amusing?

Historical Context:

On this day – January 15th, 1927…

Scopes Trial: In a split decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 49-1922 of the Tennessee Code, which prohibited the teaching of evolution. The Court set aside the order for the fine levied against teacher John T. Scopes. Chief Justice Grafton Green said, “All of us agree that nothing is to be gained by prolonging the life of this bizarre case.”

(source: Wiki)

Original Diary Page:


© Mariana Pickering and Gnarly Roots, 2015.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (including photos) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariana Pickering and Gnarly Roots with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


4 thoughts on “January 15, 1927: “poor people ought not have children”

  1. Al says:

    “It is the custom to look back on ourselves of the boom days with a disapproval that approaches horror…But it had its virtues, that old boom: Life was a great deal larger and gayer for most people, and the stampede to the Spartan virtues in times of war and famine shouldn’t make us too dizzy to remember its hilarious glory.”
    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

    “(…) the New Woman of the 1920s boldly asserted her right to dance, drink, smoke, and date—to work her own property, to live free of the strictures that governed her mother’s generation. (…) She flouted Victorian-era conventions and scandalized her parents. In many ways, she controlled her own destiny.”
    ― Joshua Zeitz, Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern

    Liked by 1 person

    • dearmariana says:

      Both great quotes!! I read a few more fantastic ones in this book I’m reading right now – “One Summer: America 1927” by Bill Bryson. I’ll have to start a quotes page to keep track of them as historical context. Super interesting!


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