Monday, April 17, 2017

My Grandmother’s Diary ~ Part 19, August 12 – 30, 1920

My grandmother, Gertrude (left) and her friend Bea (right) at Mrs. Wilkins.
Was this photo taken in Haverhill, Massachusetts?

This is my 19th blog post with transcriptions of my grandmother’s 1920 diary from Beverly, Massachusetts.  Her name was Gertrude Hitchings (1905 – 2001) and she lived on Elliott Street.  Her diary was a tiny 3” inch book with minuscule handwriting.  It has taken a long time to transcribe, and the book is very fragile.   Every Monday I post another section of her diary.  You can read the first installment HERE

FRI. AUG. 13, 1920
Got up at 7.30 but went
back to bed again.  Mild-
red, Gordon, Eunice & I
sick.  After dinner I got up
went out to the piazza [illegible and crossed out]
Home all evening
went to bed at 9.

Got up at 7.45 worked
around the house all the
morning.  After dinner
went to the Sam Sam
had a pretty good time
we came home at
12 went to bed at 12.15.

Got up at 8.45 stayed
Home all day Mrs & Mr
Wilkins, Russell and Ethel
came down.  Went to
Bed at 10.30.

NOTE:   Gertrude and her siblings were all sick at the same time, but seemed to get better by the next day or two.  On the 14th she went "to the Sam Sam" which was a mystery to me, until my mother reminded me it was a carnival in Beverly.  According to the Beverly Historical Society, this was a festival held for the benefit of the Beverly Hospital starting in 1905. Then the festival was held at the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Athletic Asssociation. Gertrude's father was a draftsman for USMC.   "From 1913 - the 19302 the "Sam Sam" carnival was a community highlight - in 1935 approximately 40,000 attended." ( )

On the 15th Mrs and Mr. Wilkins came down (along with Gertrude's brother, Russell, and his wife, Ethel).  In the next few diary entries it appears that the Wilkins lived in Haverhill, at least they lived there in the summer. 

MON. AUG 16, 1920
Got up at 5.45 tent 6.45 car
To Danvers, then took 7.7 train [sic] to
Haverhill got here at 8.30
After dinner went down
town with Bea came
home at 4.30 stayed home
all evening.  Bed at 9.30.

Got up at 9. Bea is sick
This morning stayed at
Home all morning
And afternoon.  After supper
Took a walk downtown
Went to bed at 9.15

Got up at 9 after breakfast
went down to Mr. Wilkins’
shop.  After dinner went
to the show with Bea.  Stayed
home all evening playing
cards.  Bed at 9.45

NOTE:   On the 16th Gertrude took the train to Haverhill.  It appears that she went with her friend, Bea Wilkins, removed to Haverhill, Massachusetts. The Wilkins family appears in the Beverly 1910 census, and in the Haverhill 1920 census.  It also appears from the diary that Mr. Wilkins had a shop in downtown Haverhill (or maybe he just worked at a store).  I could not find a store in the Haverhill directory that was owned by a Mr. Wilkins.  In the 1920 census, Bea's father is listed as a machinist. 

In researching this bit about Bea moving to Haverhill, I was delighted to find her birth record (born 1 September 1906 in Hamilton, Massachusetts), but saddened to learn that she died in 1925 in Boston, Massachusetts.  She died very young, just a few years after this diary was written, and she wasn't even 20 years old. 

THURS. AUG 19, 1920
Got up at 9 went to the
store before breakfast.  Home
all morning after dinner
went to Canobie Lake
with Bea had a good
time came home at 9.00
Went to bed at 9.45

Got up at 10 went to the
store had breakfast. Stayed
home after dinner and
made fudge and read. After
supper went to the store
got an ice cream, read
and went to bed at 10.30

Got up at 9.00 after break-
fast Bea & I went up to the
castle played tennis.  Mr.
Wilkins came up brought the
Lunch came home at 8.45
went to bed at 10.00

NOTE:  I love this entry because Gertrude went to Canobie Lake Park, which is not far from Haverhill, and not far from where I lived in Londonderry, New Hampshire.  Canobie Lake Park is still an historic amusement park in Salem, New Hampshire and I blogged about it as a trolley park at this link:  

Gertrude also mentions playing tennis at "the castle".  This refers to Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill.  It was built in 1875 as a summer estate, and donated to the city of Haverhill as a park in 1895.  It is still a park, and the castle is used for weddings, theater, craft fairs and other community events. You can read more about Winnekenni castle at this link:  

SUN. AUG. 22, 1920
Got up at 10 stayed
at home all the morn-
ing.  In the afternoon
went to the movies with
Bea.  After supper took a walk
Up Tilton’s Tower with Mr. & Mrs.
Wilkins and Bea.  Bed at 9.15.

Got up at 9.00 stayed
Home all morning After
dinner made fudge
after supper went
downtown to do some
errands came home at
8.30 Went to bed at 9

Got up at 9 had break-
fast at 11.30 Bea and I
went to Salisbury and to Hampton
beach had a swell time
We came home at 9.30
Went to bed at 10.30

Tilton Tower, Haverhill, Massachusetts
(old postcard)

NOTE:   Tilton's Tower was a folly built by John C. Tilton of West Newbury as a 125 foot observatory for his telescope in 1887.  The tower, on Silver Hill, was removed after World War II to make room for a radio antenna.  Gertrude visited Tilton's Tower on the 22nd, and on the 24th she went with Bea to the seacoast.  Salisbury Beach had a famous amusement park and arcade, and so did Hampton Beach.  It appears that in 1920 Gertrude visited many amusement parks - I can list many from her diary:  Salem Willows, Pleasant Pond, Canobie Lake, Salisbury and Hampton.  What is amazing is that Salem Willows and Canobie Lake are still amusement parks, and Salisbury Beach still has its seaside arcade. 

I’m continuing the transcriptions for another two pages to complete the section of the diary for her vacation in Haverhill with Bea. 

WED. AUG. 25, 1920
Got up at 10. had breakfast
went to the store, after
dinner went up to the castle
played tennis, home at 6.00
stayed home all evening
and read.  Bed 9.30.

Got up at 9.00 stayed
home all morning. After
dinner Bea & I went down
town got the pictures.
Home all evening reading
went to bed at 10.

Got up at 9.  had breakfast
then went to the store.  Home
all afternoon reading.  After
supper went down Mr. W’s store
& had a soda. Bed at 10.

NOTE:  Gertrude mentions more tennis at "the castle".  Perhaps "got the pictures" refers to having some photographs developed?  She went to Mr. Wilkins' store for a soda, and below she mentions going to the store to have an ice cream, so perhaps his business was a soda fountain or drug store (many pharmacies included soda fountain or counters in the 1920s)  

SAT. AUG 28, 1920
Got up at 9.15 had break
fast worked home all morning
after dinner went to the
store got some ice cream
stayed home all afternoon
after supper stayed around
home.  Went to bed at 10

Up at 9.00 had breakfast
then at 11 Bea & I went to Canobie
and met Mr. L, Eunice and Hollis
up there had a great time. Mr. Lowell
& Eunice came back with us
and stayed all night after
supper went to walk.  Bed at 11.00

Got up at 7.30 after breakfast
Eunice, Mr. L, Bea & I went up to
the castle. home at 12.15.  After
dinner we came home got
home 5.15.  Stayed home all
evening.  Bed at 10.15

NOTE:  I think it’s interesting that Gertrude took a second trip to Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire, and met up with her siblings and Mr. Lowell.   She returned home with them by train to Beverly on the 30th . It must have been a very exciting trip for her to spend  two weeks away from home!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "My  Grandmother’s Diary ~ Part 19, April 12 – 30, 1920", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 17, 2017,  ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Do you think the castle is Winnekenni castle in Haverhill?

    1. Yes, I have a short paragraph and link about Winnekenni Castle and the park above (between August 21 and 22)