Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Diaries Department

In my January 1 post I proclaimed the discovery of my father’s diaries. Fifty years worth of handwritten diaries! As I said then, “…it has fallen to me to transcribe them.”

Lemme tell you something: Don’t try this at home!

This is a wonderful task, but it’s slow and painstaking. Dad’s writing style is the biggest problem. Poor punctuation and inconsistency with the time of day are two big trouble spots. Of course, penmanship is sometimes a stumbling block, but I figure it out sooner or later. I have so far completed eight years. That’s 2,900+ days. Only 42 years to go.

Okay, all that being said—I’m having the time of my life. I’m discovering things I never knew before. I’ve been reminded of things I had forgotten. I’m seeing facets of my Dad I was unaware of. I’ve seen love, tenderness and compassion; anger, excitement and fear. I’ve been surprised. I’ve been touched. I’ve been amused and saddened. I’ve found old friends. I’ve gone back to empty desert places that are now urban sprawl. I can verify some of the incidents of my childhood. I wonder about an occasional mysterious entry. Other times I exclaim, “Hey, yeah. That’s right!” This is quite the exciting project.

Two things really stand out.

First, Dad had no respect for punctuation. A simple – or a = was all he needed for commas and periods. Once in awhile he did use a period at the end of a sentence. But why? He always included the time he went to work (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m.). He was pretty creative about it, too. Suppose he worked 8 – 4 for two weeks. Well, then he could write 8 – 4 fourteen different ways. Some of those times are unheard of in the annals of English style guides. Sheesh!

Second, as I read and type, I get lost in time. In this cold winter of 2008, awakened old senses warm me with Arizona’s summer heat. Ah, baseball in Arizona! I spent most of yesterday typing November and December 1954. Last evening with my brother, I told him it felt like November to me right now. Thanksgiving can’t be far away. He looked at me kinda funny. Again.

I repeat: Don’t try this at home. It’s just too wonderful.

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