Category: Entries of Jerry C.

My dad kept a diary on and off from the time he was 17 until late in his life. These are entries from some of the notebooks that have come into my possession.

An entry from Jerry C.

[No. 5184 has skipped a few entries so I dug into my dad’s diaries and found this. He was 17 years old, living in Chicago.]

May 19, 1941

Monday. A week ago yesterday I was talking about feeling melancholy sometimes. I’m going to try and figure out just what this melancholy feeling comes from in a hurry. I think it comes from worrying. What do I worry about? Well, here are some things. (I’m going to be truthful. They’re all rather selfish things because they have to do mostly with myself. That isn’t saying that I don’t ever worry about my folks, I do.)

My schoolwork. This is one of my biggest worries. Right now, I’m afraid that I won’t pass in bookkeeping and it will keep me from graduating. That would be terrible. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t graduate. I’d feel awful in front of my relations and mostly in front of my mom and dad. I’d hate to let them down like that. One of my big ambitions is to make something out of myself so they could be proud of me.

Then another worry is how am I going to go about making something big out of myself? What will my four years of high school have done for me when I get out? I hope that I would do something worthwhile in bookkeeping and calculating, but they are two of my worst subjects. Bookkeeping was never so bad until I got Salasha for a teacher. I did pretty well the last two semesters but this one, boy it’s bad.

Sometimes I think back and wish I was just starting high school over but that I was as wise as I am now. I’d really work to get the highest marks because I’ve found that it is what counts. Now that I’m almost through with high school I rank almost 500 in a list of about 900 students. That’s not good. There are kids who have gone through school without taking anything that would train them for a job when they get out, but they have made good marks and are up high on the list. Look how much ahead I could be if I had only tried a little harder. So I worry about getting started in that ladder to the top.

But sometimes I wonder if I want to climb that ladder or not. I couldn’t really picture myself sitting behind a desk doing office work and still, maybe I’d be pretty good at it. I’m not mechanically minded. I can hardly take my bike apart and put it together again.

I think my biggest worry is my future. Here’s the outlook. When I get out of high school, I will undoubtedly get a job. Maybe as an office boy if they take me with the school record I’ve got. But where can I go from there? It doesn’t seem that I’d make a good bookkeeper. That’s probably my next rung on the ladder. So I’ll be stuck as an office boy all my life. I couldn’t go to work in the teaching field. As for those other professions, such as a doctor or lawyer or something like that, that would be out.

Spoiler alert: He did not go on to do something worthwhile in bookkeeping.

Sometimes these things make me feel so miserable that I really wish the country would become engaged in the present war so I could join the Navy and forget these things. I think the change of scenery would do me good. Maybe I’d get killed and I wouldn’t have to worry at all.

I’ve been looking at these things from the dark side. Next, I’ll try it from the light side, the side I really fail to see. That’s the trouble with me. I worry too damned much.

About my little diary project

The goal is to post entries from the diaries and journals of my ancestors, willing friends and family, myself, and found public sources like a diary my godmother discovered in a Kentucky resale shop. I want to organize them by writer, date, and where possible, geographic location. The reason: I want to honor and create a shared, minimally curated source of daily accounts of life from ordinary people. If you’d like to participate, contact me for guidelines.