January 16-17, 1927: “children are an unprofitable investment”

Jan 16 Mon. Inclined to be dull sun shine but faintly. Audrea went to school. suppose she will get her feet wet it is thawing so rapidly. An atmosphere of gloom surrounds the place – as usual. Amozell sends a note written in her usual crazy style. Can make nothing of it. Ernest or his doings are nothing to me. I wish I’d never seen her or any of them. What matter if the body is fed when the soul is starved + it has been years since mine has been provided for. These people don’t seem to have any. I see in my excitement I have written Monday’s doings under Sunday’s head. so now I will have to write Sundays.

Sunday was fine but very cold. Did not get down stairs untill half past two. Had cup of tea read the paper. Not the Bible. there does not seem to be any chance here for that only when I am alone. Tried to teach Audrea something but the influence on the other side is too much for one. “A house divided against itself cannot stand” I that Audrea might repay me for all I had gone thro’ but that was only another dream. there’s nothing left for me in this world. Mr. Baldwin came in while we were eating dinner stayed about an hour. Looks badly. should not wonder if he breaks down. Children in nine cases out of ten are an unprofitable investment. You can’t gather grapes from thorns nor figs from thistles. As ye sow so must ye reap and an uncontrolled child will be a disgrace to its parents as sure as the sun rises in the east + sets in the west

Notes + Explanations:

Wow. This was an amazing entry. Lots to cover. Ready?

1. There is apparently great concern over the wetness of feet. I find this amusing.

2. Her strong feelings about Ernest are in line with her sentiments towards Clarence. Ernest, however, is her own cousin. His name is Joshua Ernest Morris, and he was married to Amozelle Lester, Clarence’s sister. In fact, I’m thinking that their relationship could have been how Edith and Clarence met. Annie could be against the whole Lester clan, who she thinks her cousin was foolish enough to marry into, furthered by the situation (whatever it may be at this point) with her own daughter and the suspicious post-birth marriage.

3. Her feelings related to lack of religion in the household are a source of great despair for her, clearly. I’m very curious what she means about Audrey needing to repay her for all she had gone through. Perhaps the premature death of her husband is the source of their financial downfall?

4. Now, about Mr. Baldwin breaking down because of his wicked child. I suspect that there is a daughter who is causing them some headaches. Daughters “disgracing” the parents seems to be a common thread.

5. There are so many fantastic quotes in this entry, I don’t even know where to start. The house divided quote is from Lincoln’s famous speech. The grapes and figs comment is a reference to Matthew 7:16 of the Bible. The reaping and sowing is Galatians 6:7. And I do believe the rest are the sweet sweet words of Annie herself.

Tomorrow, there will be no post, as she has accidentally written Monday’s before Sunday’s “in her excitement”. Instead, I’ll try to update some of the people pages with what info I can find.

Original Diary Page:


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5 thoughts on “January 16-17, 1927: “children are an unprofitable investment”

  1. Al says:


    Annie refers to Mr. Baldwin, why so formal? This is heart wrenching stuff! It’s true New England winter’s can be such a drag on one’s spirit. Three generations under one roof and one can feel the separation. We’re leaving behind the habits and thought of the Victorian era for the Roaring Twenties, everything goes. WWI has ended, prohibition has created it’s own set of habits, immigration is in full swing and the woman’s have the right to vote! Disease has been running rampant, flu, polio, smallpox, cholera, measles, yellow fever just to name a few. The farm culture is fading away giving pace to the industrial revolution. Times they are a changing and Annie is clearly being left behind with a sense that the values cherished by her generation have been lost.

    They went to the center for music lessons. Where is the center do we know? Annie is not getting out of the house, I don’t think she’s feeling well? She hasn’t talked about church, do you know if they followed any type of religion? There’s talk of the bible but Annie seems alone in this.

    It may be her own doing, I can’t say, just the same it’s very hard to read. Clearly she misses John and the life they had together. Annie doesn’t seem to appreciate the characters in her play at the moment with the exception of the Baldwin’s and Lucy. Is she showing us the difference between Somerville and Arlington? I wonder if I would handle this any better than Annie? Would I continue in an attempt to recreate my world or give in to my surroundings? My neighbor was 97 when she passed away and would talk to me of how things had changed and how lonely she was as all the people she knew through the years were gone and new people with different ideas and habits had replaced them. Remember Annie arrives in the US age 14, 1874 only 9 years after the the civil war!!

    Audrey did have talent can you tell us more about her professional life. Where did she perform? Was her husband also a musician? What was her style?

    I’m well impressed by how you trace Annie’s comments to things she’s reading. That is really nice work! Keep going I’m sure there are more surprises around the corner!!

    The following is about the “Hood Rubber Company.”


    Thanks so much for posting, I really am enjoying this peak into Annie’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dearmariana says:

      It’s my pleasure, Al! Thanks for sharing your insights on it, as well! You’re right, it is heart-wrenching that she thinks there is “nothing left for [her] in this world”. My grandmother always described her grandmother (well, not “always”, as she hardly talked about her family) as a cold woman, very formal, no tenderness, and always prohibiting her from doing things. I think this truly was a clash of generations, as well as personalities perhaps.

      To answer some of your questions:
      – When they say the “center”, they mean into Boston. I don’t know where exactly yet, though.

      – No, she’s not getting out of the house, I assume from the back and sometimes toe pain she feels… but also perhaps because she has no where to go, as you were saying. Perhaps she doesn’t know anyone really in Arlington. I do find it hard to believe she doesn’t go to church, and in fact, I have an article from the 1890s in which Edith plays piano at the reception for a pastor at Union Square Presbyterian Church of Somerville (which I assume they attended). Perhaps it was just another thing that got dropped after the move to Arlington.

      – I’ll update the people pages today and this weekend, including Audrey’s, but she was a professional musician and artist her whole life. She played cello in many symphonies and orchestras, including the Boston Women’s Symphony, Houston Symphony, Dallas Orchestra, and Santa Fe Opera. Her husband, my Nonno (Italian-American), was also a musician for the first part of his life (viola) and they played alongside each other. He then had a career change and became an aviation engineer for Bell Helicopters after the war.

      – Thanks for the Hood Rubber Co link, I’ll add to my link list for historical context!


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