Clues and Other Miscellaneous Bits
The coolest of the cool: Project
Cool made us their Sighting for February 5, 1996!
The Emily Project was named Cool
Site of the Day for November 27, 1995.
Emily was Net
Guide's Site of the Day for February 29, 1996.
Site of the Month for Genealogists for Dec. '95 by the Colorado
Book Stacks Unlimited, Inc., named us
Novel Place for the Day in their Book of Days for Jan. 9th, 1996.
We were a Ground
Zero Pick of the Day for January 23/96!
Stranger Than Fiction chose Emily as their Best
Site for March 10/96!
Anyway, this page will hold the information, ideas and other bits of
stuff people sent in that don't really belong anywhere else. Below,
you'll find information and clues that people have provided and
journal entries we loved, but just couldn't use (for obvious
Hints, clues, info and whatnot...
Fascinating mystery! A clue on fomentations and stupes excerpted from
"The Chicago School of Nursing" textbook dated 1937 that was given to
me by my greataunt, June.
"Moist Heat: Fomentations. Moist heat is applied by fomentations,
or stupes, which consist of cloths wrung from very hot water. The
water may be medicated."
"A Stupe is a fomentation to which turpentine, iodine, opium, or
belladonna has been added. Turpentine stupes are used to relieve
distention of the bowels due to gas formation within them and are to
be laid over the entire front of the abdomen and changed every
fifteen minutes. Applied over the region of the bladder, they also
relieve retention of the urine, especially of the nervous type."
Carrying and sleeping
You ask why Emily was "carried." The entry reads : "Mrs. Lewis got me
up about 8. Breakfast, then they carried me to the station and I got
the 9 o'clock train in. Got in here at 11:45." I think "carried" is
what today we'd call "gave me a ride."
As to why Emily slept so much, even after the invention of
gaslight & electric light, people tended to go to bed as soon as
it got dark. Especially women. And especially in winter. Colette has
a little essay about shop girls and working girls taking a day off
and doing nothing but sleep, something she recommends. She thought it
was natural for people to kind of hibernate. Emily also described
being depressed (couldn't find any zest, tired all the time) and
having bad headaches. It could have been caused by anything from the
environment she was living in (she could have been allergic to
something) to emotional factors (she said she was lonely and wanted a
good man to love her).
As noted, Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection. It usually
does not require hospitalization. I am not aware of cases requiring
hospital admission prior to advent of newer therapies to treat these
infections, but it certainly could have happened.
Impetigo is most often seen on the face. Prior to about the mid to
late 1950's, treatment consisted of removing the scales and crusts,
washing the affected area, then "painting" the area with gentian
blue. This was done daily, and may well be to what Irma's diary entry
of 30 October refers (". . . fixed the impetigo on my face".)
How to preserve
I have another diary similary to Emily's. When my mother, Dorothy
Lucille Poole Willis (1913-1981) died, I found her "Diary and
Reminder," a 4X6" red and leather bound volume with a golden
latch/lock. Her writings covered EVERY DAY beginning Jan 1, 1929, to
Jan 1, 1933. (one interesting feature is that she makes NO mention of
the 1929 Crash.)
Unlike your Emily, my mother lived her entire life in Southern
California, but her writings are so similar in style to Emily's
although my mother was a bit younger than Emily. My mother's stories
cover her last two years of high school and then two years beyond. It
is very interesting to read what the "young people" did in Southern
California during that time period. I have often wondered what to do
with this diary because I have known many of the people described for
my entire life. (my age is 57) It is the descriptions of these
people, who are now much older or deceased, concerning their lives as
younger people that I find so fascinating.
I have thought of contributing the diary to some So. Cal. archive
or agency so that it could benefit others who may have an interest in
a study of the people of the period. I really don't know exactly what
I should do with the diary; I would like to do something "more" than
"pass it down" because I feel certain that it will become "lost in
the shuffle" which often happens with family treasures. I have no
other relatives who are interested in this diary, so I would
appreciate hearing any suggestions you may have.
Editor's note: Please e-mail Barb
if you have any ideas about how she can preserve and share her
"Dodo" was often a nickname for Dorothy.
The turpentine "strips" in the Nov. 1 entry probably were turpentine
"stupes" - I began nurses training in 1944 and we learned to make
them. As someone guessed, they were used to "draw out" boils etc.
Remember this was before antibiotics...
Are you involved in
diaries? Write to Kate!
I am completing my Ph.D. and it is on a Canadian artist's diary from
1920 to 1982. I know exactly what it is like to try to transcribe
another person's writings (who is no longer available to help you)
and to research the time period to fill in the blanks. I found this
work fascinating and again commend you for this wonderful work. I
would love to hear from others involved in diaries as well. I can be
reached at email@example.com
We've found Emily!
A lot has happened in the last month. A story, written by an
Associated Press reporter, has resulted in the discovery of Emily's
identity! Click the photo icon at left to take a look at...Irma
A note from a contributor
Thanks for this website, it's a great spot to visit. This entry
(April 30) was sparked by our spring this year in Southern Vermont --
protracted and marked by the ever-present mud season. Perhaps this
yearly struggle with roads may be the reason for the gap in Emily's
late March entries. This is always a time of year when roads are
tough to traverse (even in the 1990s!) And today I did see the first
coltsfoot blooming... a familiar roadside herb that's valued as a
traditional asthma and pleurisy remedy.
Editor's note: Entries like this one are the reason we started the
project in the first place. They make Emily come to life. Thank
Re: Nov. 1st entry...
.. "hot turpentine (undecipherable)". I wonder if the reading might
be "poultice", or "fomentation", or "plaster" or (possibly)
"dressing" or "embrocation". I suspect it might be steeping something
like oatmeal in the hot turpentine, squeezing it out and wrapping it
in a cloth, then laying it on the affected part, (if it's meant to
draw matter out from a wound or ulcer).
Alternatively, I suppose it might be placed on the chest, as a sort
of version of Vick's (which is a liquid that you inhale or put on a
handkerchief or piece of cloth on the chest for bronchial
complaints). Perhaps a book on nursing practice (or a nurse who
trained pre-WWII) would be able to help with this.
Editor's note: Further study of the undecipherable word shows that
it may be "strips", although Emily seems to have spelled it
"stripes". So we'll add this to the journal!
Re: Books read no 4. "Rose Garden Husband"...
This is by Margaret Widdemer, and would have been published just
before or just after WWI. It was a long-standing favourite with my
mother and her two sisters (as young women in the 1920s) as a sort of
"comfort read" -- light, easy, and romantic if you didn't feel up to
anything more demanding. It's about Phyllis, who agrees to marry (in
name only, of course) a young man who has been paralysed in an
accident. This is at the urging of his dying mother, who believes
that a wife who has been well brought up and has good values will
look after him better than any paid help would. They are very
well-to-do, and so Phyllis (who -- though of course a lady -- is a
badly paid librarian in a big city) gets ease, security, and the
rose-garden she has been dreaming of. No doubt it will come as no
surprise that she and her husband also actually fall in love with
each other over the course of time, though without admitting it
(slight misunderstandings ensue), However, there is a happy ending
(!) as husband (Alan, I think, but not sure) is startled out of his
paralysis, which was evidently of nervous origin, when he sees
Phyllis threatened by a tramp (in the English sense of the word!)
It's quite well-written, and of course has a certain amount of period
charm. Personally, I prefer another of Margaret Widdemer's books
(also a Cinderella-type story), "Rosamund - why not?" as I feel
Rosamund has more go in her than the slightly feeble Phyllis. (But I
won't bother you with the plot of that one!)
A fictional entry so good, it could have been real!
Editor's note: Brian wrote us about the fictional entry for
I am from VT and had aunts named Ethel and Hilda who worked in health
It's official...Emily boarded in Springfield!
The location is definitely Springfield, Massachusetts- Pine Point and
Indian Orchard are sections of Springfield. Boston Road (Rte.20- the
old "highway" to Boston) runs through both these sections. Burnham's
was a woman's clothing store and Forbes & Wallace, a large
department store. A correction to the Jan 15 entry- not Court "Lq"
but "Sq" for Court Square Theater.
Editor's note: Thanks to our anonymous writer for the definitive
Another reader writes:
Have you been in communication with the historical museum in
Springfield, Massachusetts? (They are located on the Museum
Quadrangle across from the Public Library.)
Anyone in Springfield up to looking for evidence of the Lewises at
Two thumbs up
Northeast Historic Film has created a database of northern New
England places where movies were shown. So here are some Vermont
theatres Emily might have attended:
Springfield: Auditorium, Dreamland, Ideal
Ludlow: Opera House, Pa-Ra-Mor
Proctorsville: Adams Opera House
"Mater" is the latin word for mother, and often used as a term of
endearment. So "Mater" is Emily's mom.
Open wide and say
I believe she must have been a social/county health nurse. More than
likely she took classes to become this nurse and was employed by the
county or government.
Where Emily lived?
I think the Springfield referred to is Springfield, Massachusetts,
and not Springfield, Vermont. Springfield College is in
Massachusetts, along what is now referred to as water-shops pond (not
normally good for skating because there is a fall that prevents a
hard freeze). Some of the other descriptions I read also fit with
Massachusetts (Forbes and Wallace was one of the big downtown
Editor's note: The writer wishes to remain anonymous
Our youngest contributor
December 24th's entry was written by Andrew Park. He's in the 3rd
grade at Harding Academy in Memphis, TN!
"Crosslots" refers to a method of traversing property in the shortest
manner rather than the use of streets.
I have a brother who lives about 4 miles outside of Waterbury VT and
I seem to recollect a few places that are mentioned in the diary. The
"Ferry" may well be across Lake Champlain as that's the only place I
can think of in that area where there may be a ferry. Also some of
the places mentioned could possibly be in the town of Bristol, just
over the mountain from Waterbury.
October 28 entry "Gassets" is correct. It is a small village at
intersection of Rte 10 and 103 in Chester. Is on the main road from
Springfield to Ludlow.
I also bought someone's "Daily Reminder". It was from 1926. It was a
male in his late 20s, early 30s. He was very wealthy, gathering from
the book and had a male caretaker that he called "boy". I would say
25% of the book was written in and he talked about travels and 2
women. Maybe you could find out where in Vermont Emily was from and
if it is from a hotel. Back then, hotels used to leave journals in
the hotel rooms for the guests. That's how I found out about my
person. The hotel he mentions in his journal was still standing but
isn't the posh hotel is was back then.
Editor's note: This journal is not imprinted with the name of a
hotel, so I don't think that's how Emily got it.
Andrew has a few questions after reading Emily's journal entries:
- Why did Emily sleep so much?
- Why, was she at one time "carried"?
- Why did she go to hospital?
- Was she (at one time) unable to walk?
- What was her skin condition?*
- Is this why she went to hospital?
*Editor's note: Impetigo is a "contagious skin infection
forming pimples and sores". Would this condition require
A suggestion from Andrew:
I suggest you scan the indecipherable words. People can then make a
more accurate decision as to what they may be.
Editor's note: Anyone want to donate a scanner?
Journal Entries We Couldn't Use
Tuesday, November 15
It was a cold rainy morning. On my way to work, the roads were
slippery and dark since the power had went out. Stray dogs were
getting hit left and right. I think I heard a couple thumps, but was
running late and did not have time to stop. When I arrived at work, I
ran in only to catch a gruesome sight out of the corner of my eye. I
went into my trunk, and searched through the brochures and other
rubbage, such as a half eaten whopper, to find my crowbar. I then
proceeded to pry off my neighbor's dog, Fido, from the front bumper
and carried it in to work. I like to play practical jokes, you know.
So I placed the dog on the conveyor belt which was for recycling
plastic. I guess someone will be drinking their pepsi from 60%
recycled plastic and 40% recycled Fido. A fellow worker, or should I
say former fellow worker, saw this and I was fired. Can you believe
that? No warnings just fired. Oh well, I guess I will just rest now.
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