George Hyland’s Diary, September 1919

By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Today, we return to the diary of George Hyland. If this is your first time encountering our 2019 diary series, catch up by reading the January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August 1919 installments first!

September finds George still settling into his tenement housing, returning to the James place several times to assist the James family with the moving of furniture and small repairs. His new home, which he rents at $12/month, is above a store run by J.H. Vinal across from the railroad station in North Scituate. “Cars go close by here,” Hyland observes in his Labor Day entry.

Map showing North Scituate railway station, 1930
A map detail showing the location of the North Scituate railway station, 1930. Map from Welcome to the Pilgrims of 1930 (Scituate, Mass.).

The late-summer, early-autumn crops are ready to be harvested and George spends much of his work days in September picking beans, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, and peaches, and tending to other crops. On the 12th he gets an irritant in his eye — he suspects lime — which becomes “swollen and painfull,” and on the 14th he treats it with a solution of water and boracic acid. On the 26th he eats his evening meal at the home of an acquaintance, Benjamin Briggs, where he approvingly notes that they serve “corned beef that the U.S. Gov. bought for the American troops in the late war in Europe — about 50 million pounds are being sold to the people in this country — it is very good meat.” He continues to play the guitar nearly every night for an hour or longer.

Join me in following George day-by-day through September 1919.

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Sept 1. (Labor Day) fog and rain nearly all day. Moved some of my things in to my new home opp. the R.R. station, N. Scituate. Cars go close by here — only about 40 feet from the house. Eve. foggy light rain. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

2d. Light rain at times all day. Worked in Mr. James’s house all day — getting his furniture from the chambers and dusting it. Also washed the floors and cleaned the rooms. Moved nearly all my things early in eve. Eve. foggy. W.N.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Carried my things there in wheelbarrow.

3d. Worked in Mr. James’s house. Cleaned the stove, sink, and the rooms, set up bedstead, and did other work there. Mrs. Russell Wilder (nee Vera White) called there to engage me to do some work, also L. F. Hyland. Hyland called to get me to pick beans to-morrow. Rain nearly all day and eve. Moved the last of my things from the house early in eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Rain nearly all night — W.N.E.

4th. Picked beans 6 hours for L. F. Hyland (7 1/2 bus.) — 1.50. Had dinner there. Walked 1 1/4 miles — rode 1 1/4 miles with Ethel Merritt — in her automobile. Ret. walked 1 1/2 miles — rode 1 mile with Mrs. Fletcher in auto. Early in eve mowed grass and weeded back of and one side of the store — and house — ten. where I now live — also raked and piled it up. Also got some of my tools from a building on James place. Carried some bread and put it where the sparrows can get it to-morrow. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours late in eve. Fine weather. W.N.W. Clear. Warm. Fine eve. Very wet on low grounds now — meadows full of water. Called at Uncle Samuel’s. Sarah has gone back to Campello, and little Elizabeth is there — I gave her a large plum. Got Sarah’s milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Ethel got it.

5th. Worked 6 1/2 hours for Mrs. Russell Wilder X — mowing lawn, trimming rose bushes, weeding flower gardens, and other work — 2.00. Very fine weather, clear; W.S.E. called at Mrs. Mary Wilder’s (nee Bates) borrowed a lawn rake there. The river is bank [sic] full of water — some of it in her cellar. Mowed some grass and weeds back of this house early in eve. Played the guitar 1 hour in eve. Fine eve. W.N.W. (X nee Vera White)

6th. Worked 7 1/2 hours for H. Bruce Fletcher — cutting down trees and proping [sic] up branches of apple trees (they are very heavy with fruit) — 2.25. Mrs. F. and Mr. F. came over to the orchard — large orchard — walked up ret. rode 2 miles with Merton Burbank — in auto truck — he had a load of produce to deliver to their customers. Bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Hot weather. W.S.W. tem. about 62-88. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

7th. (Sun.) In aft. called at W.I. Lincoln’s — 1 1/2 hours. Martha gave me 7 cookies. Late in aft. went to Scituate Harbor — rode to Bay St., Egypt with W. I. Lincoln, Clinton, Merritt, and little Isaah Lincoln, Martha Lincoln, M. L. and I in back of front seat — in auto truck. We went to the Norwell farm. Then I walked to S. Har. Called at Scott Gannett’s place — (on Willow St.) owner of the house where I live now. Met Mary DeWire on Willow St. Called at Mrs. Talbot’s, Egypt. Had supper and spent eve. there. Walked home in eve. arr. 7.45 P.M.

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Sep. 7. [cont’d] A lady boarder at Mrs. Talbot’s gave me some candy. Hot weather to-day. Tem. 65-87 W.W.

8th. Picked beans (11 bus.) 7 1/2 hours for L. F. Hyland — 2.20. Hiram Litchfield also picked beans there — next to my home — the grey cat came there to see me. I had dinner at L.F. Hyland’s. Walked nearly up there. Rode 1/4 mile in school […] with Prescott Damon. Walked back. Got some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Called at Uncle Samuel’s — gave Elizabeth some of the candy the lady at Mrs. T’s gave. Elizabeth gave me 8 pears to carry home. I had 2 N.Y. Sun. papers to bring home — were sent to me by David Whiton, Groton, […]. Very hot weather — tem. 68-90; W.W. While on way home the wind suddenly changed to N.E. with strong breeze. Began to rain just before I arr. home. Thunder Tempest from 6 P.M. to 10:15 P.M. all around here very near at times. 10:30 P.M. another tempest began W. of here. Played on the guitar 1 ¼ hours in eve.

9th. Light rain all day and eve. W.N.E. tem. About 50-57. Did some work at home — repaired the door on the woodhouse. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

10th. Cloudy. Very damp and wet. W.E. Worked on the James place 5 hours — mowing with sickle, lawn mower, and shears. J.H. Vinal gave me 1 1/4 pounds of meat last eve. (Lamb.) to fry also gave 2 pails — peanut butter pails — pails with handles — good for water pails. Eve. clou. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

11th. Worked on the James place 6 hours – I have mowed all over the place — with sickle, shears, and lawn mower and sythe, and worked on the walk — dug weeds out and raked it over. Very damp. W.E. Cloudy. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Eve foggy. Heavy rain late in night.

12th. Mowed front and around the house and picked pears 4 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — 1.20. Forenoon cloudy — light rain for a short time. Aft. clear, windy. N.W. Eve. clou. to par. Clou. W.N.N.N. Played on the guitar 1 h. 10 min. in eve. My left eye is hurt probably some lime got into [it] from a shelf in one of the rooms here. Picked some tomatoes in my garden late in aft. Also picked 4 good peaches from a tree there — all there was on the tree.

13th. In forenoon mowed lawn and around the house 3 1/2 hours for Mason Litchfield — 65. In aft. mowed lawn and bank 3 3/4 hours for Mrs. Eudora Bailey — 50. Fine weather. Clear. Warm. W.N.W. fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 h. 10 min. in eve.

14th. (Sun.) Fine weather; clear. W.N.W. Late in aft. went up to my old house, got some grapes (red) on the apple tree — W. side of the house. Called at Uncle Samuel’s. Ellen gave me some boracic acid — mixed with water (1 teaspoonfull [sic] to a glass of water) to wash my left eye which is swollen and painfull [sic]. Rode up with Ellery and S.E. Hyland — in auto. Walked back in eve. Called at Andrew Bates’ and bought some milk. Nellie G. Sharpe called here about 8:45 P.M. to see if I will pick beans for L.F. Hyland (her grandfather). She is a lovely girl — is my 3d cousin. Eve. cloudy. Very damp. W.M.W.

15th. Picked beans (6 bus.) 4 hours for L.F. Litchfield. Picked beans and had dinner there — he has let his house and moved into the house in Beechwood. Walked up and back. Began rain at 12:45 P.M. and rained all aft. Got wet. Stopped at Mrs. Merritt’s and bought some milk. Ethel got it. Eve. clou. Very damp. Called at Uncle Samuel’s gave Ellen and Elizabeth 2 peaches from the James place — tree in my garden.

16th. Worked 5 1/4 hours for Mrs. Russell Wilder — trimming edges of walks and digging them up and […] them. Also trimmed next to St. (State Road) — 1.60. Cloudy; W.E. Mr. James arr. At his home from Spokane, Wash. Late in aft. His wife, and his son’s wife came with him. I went there and helped to get their things where they wanted them. Charles also helped them. Fred T. Bailey helped me move the […] sofa bed from the S. front room (where I had put it last week) into the N. front room through very narrow doors — difficult job. The N. room was my music room when I lived there. Mr. James’ daughter-in-law is a very beautiful young woman. Rain all eve. Wind E. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mr. James brought a dog from Wash.

17th. Worked 6 hours for Mr. James. Made slats for bedstead, moved furniture and etc. Mrs. James and I got the furniture from the garret and set it up. Put up shelves for maps and etc., laid a new carpet on the parlor floor and got everything set up in all the rooms. Weather fair. Warm. W.N.W. Eve. clear. Played on the guitar 1 h. 10 min in eve. Mrs. James lives in Seattle, Wash. born in W. Va.

18th. Worked 6 hours for Russell Wilder splitting and housing wood, cutting up old board and etc. and picking dry beans — 1.80. Fine weather. Cool; W.S.E. Eve. cool. Cut my hair in eve. in an Italian barber his shop only about 20 ft. from here — belongs to same man who owns this house (and store). Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mrs. Vera Wilder pays me every night when I work for them.

Yesterday the 1st Division Regulars marched through Washington D.C. — they have just returned from Germany.

19th. Worked 7 hours for Russell Wilder mowing and trimming, digging potatoes — 2.10. Fine weather. Clear. Cool — max. Tem. 70. Mr. James called here late in aft. He thinks I have a good place (in the tenement over the store) he looked in all the rooms. His dog came up here with him. Mr. J is 96 years of age — so his daughter-in-law told me. I played on the guitar 1 ½ hours in eve.

20th. Worked 7 hours for Russell Wilder — diging [sic] potatoes, picking beans, sawing, splitting, and housing wood — 2.10. Warm weather.– tem. about 85. W.S.W. late in aft. Went up to Frank Clapp’s place and fed his horse, pig and chickens — he went away to-day — to stay 2 days. Eve. warm. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

21st. (Sun.) Very warm weather — W.S.W. tem. About 65-88. In morning went up to Frank Clapp’s and fed his horse, pig and chickens — F.C. arr. Home early in eve. I called there early in eve. He paid me 1.00 for doing the chores. Then I went on to Mrs. Merritt’s and bought some milk. Eve. warm and muggy.

22d. Worked 7 1/4 hours for Frank Clapp — picking tomatoes and tieing [sic] up cauliflowers. F.C. and Mrs. [blank space for name] also worked there. We rode there in his auto-truck. Mrs. [blank space for name] runs it. We came back at noon and went there again in aft. (to his farm in Norwell). Began to rain at 4:20 P.M. Very warm (87) and muggy. Played on the guitar 1 ¼ hours in eve. Ellery Hyland here 1/2 hour in eve. Stopped at Waldo Litchfield’s and bought some milk. Made 2.17 to-day. Had my dinner here to-day.

23d. Light rain at times W.N.W. Cool. In aft. worked 3 hours for Mr. James — setting up furniture and clearing out his storehouse — very dirty place — about 20 wheelbarrow loads of coal ashes and rubbish in

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it. Cleared it to be used as a wood house — also made a platform to put his large oil can on and place to put a lamp — or a small can when getting oil out of it. Rain late in aft. and in eve. Paid the rent for Sept. to-day — $12.00. Paid it to J. H. Vinal — Mr. Scott Gannett told me I could pay it to him, as I am seldom here except in eve. and prob. would not be here when he called to collect the rent for his houses and other places.

24th. Worked 6 3/4 hours for Russell and Mrs. Vera Wilder — mowing lawn and trimming grass around lawn. Made a circular flower garden, chopped up boxes and barrels, and housed the wood, and did other work — 2.00. Fine weather, W.E. Clear, eve. Clear. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mrs. Wilder called here about 9:15 P.M. and said they would like to have me come to their place to-morrow morning and get a load of coal into the cellar — 1 1/4 tons it was brought there in a large auto-truck and the trucked got mired in the soft ground — and I will have to unload it where it is. 9:25 P.M. rained about 30 minutes […].

25th. In forenoon worked 4 hours X for Russell Wilder unloading and housing coal and filling up […] with bricks and coal ashes. Mrs. Mary Wilder — his mother, gave me 2 nice doughnuts. In aft. Went grapeing — picked 10 qts. of very fine wild grapes. Called at Uncle Samuel’s and E. Hyland’s — Ellery Hyland brought my grapes here in eve. I walked up and back — walked 6 miles — 3 miles through rough, wet and briers and tall grass and bushes. Called at Mrs. Merritt’s and bought some milk — she put in an extra pint — in my pail — fine weather. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. — X 1.20 work for R Wilder.

26th. Worked 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp — picking tomatoes and tieing cauliflowers — his Norwell farm. Carried a lunch — but had dinner at Benjamin Briggs’: they had some of the caned [sic] corned beef that the U.S. Gov. bought for the American troops in the late war in Europe — about 50 million pounds are being sold to the people in this country — it is very good meat. Rode to the farm in E.F. Clapp’s market wagon — I went there alone with the horse and wagon — brought back the tomatoes that I picked. Fine weather — clear — W.N.W. in forenoon. S.E. in aft. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

27th. Worked 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp. — picking tomatoes and tieing up cauliflowers. Fine weather. Clear; W.N.E. to S.E. rode up to the farm and back — with the horse — in wagon. Had dinner at B. Briggs; bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Eve. clear. Cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mrs. [blank space for name] gave me a pint jar of tomatoes to take home — she comes up to the farm every day — and works there part of the time — She is E.F. Clapp’s […] and housekeeper.

28th. (Sun.) Fine weather, W.N.E. to S.E. Called at W. F. Lincoln’s in aft. (2 h.) he gave me some grapes. Fine eve.

29th. Picked beans and tied up cauliflowers — 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp — rode up and back with his horse and wagon. Had dinner at B. Briggs’ part of which I carried there. Very fine weather W.N.W in forenoon — S.E. in aft. Clear and warm. W.S.S.W. in eve. Cloudy late in eve.

30th. Worked 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp – [space left blank] Hot weather W.S.W. tem. about 85. W.N.W. and cloudy after 4 P.M. picked beans, carried cauliflowers out of the field — to a place near the gate (35 bus.) E.F.C. and Mrs. [space left blank for name] worked on the cauliflowers — after 3 P.M. I picked and loaded 10 bus. of tomatoes. Went with the horse and wagon — they went in the auto! — They went to Boston with a load. Emma Fletcher — in auto. I arr. house at 7:30 P.M. Played on the guitar 1 h. 5 min. in eve. Had lunch at B. Briggs. Got a […] to-day.

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If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.

*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The catalog record for the George Hyland’s diary may be found here. Hyland’s diary came to us as part of a collection of records related to Hingham, Massachusetts, the catalog record for this larger collection may be found here.