Those crazy kids of 1921

My grandfather, Frank J. Dove, was a very quiet man. My grandmother, Carrie Belle Hamlin Dove was a chatty lady, and my grandpa tended to sit back and let her do the talking. So it was quite a surprise to come across a scrapbook he created back in the 20s, with tiny black and white photographs and a typed narrative telling the stories of some of their college adventures. They are so vivid and funny, and it is both delightful and unsettling to come across his words some 90 years later and realize that my Grandpa Dove was not always solemn and thoughtful.

In this age where so many of us document our lives quite thoroughly, you have to sometimes remind yourself that although pre-computer people did not document their lives in the same way, they had some of the same impulses to share their stories and to speak to people who might come along later. What a treat to get to catch a glimpse now, in 2011, of my grandparents back in 1921. A big thank you to my generous cousin Carrie, who brought the scrapbooks and photo albums to the family cottage!

Here are some samples, with photos to come:

“The two remaining canoes came up, all went ashore and made a good fire beside a clump of bushes. Toast, eggs and coffee were soon produced and greatly enjoyed. Certain members of the crew used the sugar cubes for irregular and forbidden purposes.”

Needless to say, we are curious to find out what irregular and forbidden purposes one used sugar cubes for in Michigan in the 1920s.

“Another fire was built and all preparations made for eats. But alas! the beefsteak could not be found! After search and discussion Captain Dove remembered that he neglected to bring it from the fraternity house basement…The dinner was a real success without it, though, especially so when topped off by some bottles of Claret Cocktail “made in the cellar” by George Mitchell. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in spinning yarns and trying to keep warm.”

“The boys performed the Seven Labors of Hercules by uprooting trees and carrying logs for a grand bonfire. Supper was served after which the whole crowd sat around and bayed at the moon.”

and one more from another canoe trip:

“So here we made our first stop. We men gathered wood and we women cut up the bread, made toast and poured the colored sawdust into the water. Carrie says it was coffee, but we who drank it, say nothing and have our own opinion.”

The more I read, the more I get a whole new perspective on my grandparents and what their life was like before they got married, had two kids, and grew old together. And I get a whole new appreciation for Frank J. Dove and his sense of humor, as well as for my grandma, who went on camping trips at a time when that probably wasn’t what lots of girls did. It’s like getting an amazing present from the past.

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2 Responses to Those crazy kids of 1921

  1. Carrie Dove Morton says:

    I’m glad you found them as captivating and interesting as I did! That diary of the camping trip was so funny and charming… and so hard to reconcile with our grandparents as we knew them! What a bunch of crazy kids, indeed!

  2. Kerry Reed says:

    What a wonderful surprise! What I wouldn’t give to speak to my grandparents again, now that I have enough life experience to know what questions to ask. And thank goodness they were restricted to 140 characters!

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