I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m incapable of keeping a diary for longer than a week or two. To keep a diary requires a person to record entries at the end of the each day.
The end of each day is my favorite part of the day. It becomes a pain if I take on the task of sitting down and writing about what happened during the day. I suppose I could record the events of the day while reading the newspaper, and have Kay type it up for me, but, again, I’m reminded of the series “Dateline.”
Wonder of wonders, I just discovered a diary that I kept from January 1, 1974 to September 9, 1974. I wrote it in a Big Chief Tablet. That’s why I didn’t remember having it. What idiot would keep a diary in a second grader’s tablet? I found it today while looking for a legitimate tablet to use for notes.
January 1974, was the beginning of a major transition in the lives of Kay and me. I apparently considered it a time to take notes. We had just moved from Conroe to Huntsville where I was to begin graduate work at Sam Houston to get my Masters in History. After two years as a forester for the Texas Forest Service headquarters in Conroe, I decided I wanted to be a college professor. What a hoot.
I withdrew my TFS retirement savings ($1100) to get us started. Although Kay had little work experience and didn’t know how to drive, it was MY plan that she would get a job in Huntsville to support us for as long as it took me to finish graduate school.
See what I mean about transition? Under my careful tutelage, Kay learned to drive and got her license. Then she did her part in teaching me how to cook. On January 9, I mentioned in the diary about cooking my first stew. It was the first of many.
Landing a job took a little longer for Kay. Let me read you my entry for February 5, which would be almost 44 years to the day. – “Today it happened! Kay got a job! The Department of Corrections called this morning and she had an interview at 2:30 this afternoon. The job pays only $300 a month, but that’s going to help out a lot. We celebrated by getting burgers at Sonic.”
The job was with TDC’s Windham School District. Kay worked out of the Walls Unit for a department that followed-up on inmates who had completed their schooling while at TDC. Incidentally, Kay had been working at the Walls Unit for five months when the Carrasco incident took place. I would be shocked if more than a few of you can remember when San Antonio drug boss, Fred Gomez Carrasco, and two other inmates attempted a breakout at the Walls Unit. -- (A short documentary on Carrasco Incident.)
During an 11 day siege, they held 15 Windham employees hostage in the library. I find it hard to believe that a movie was never made about that incident. Fortunately, Kay wasn’t in the library at the time, so she and her co-workers were escorted out of the building as soon as word got out about the takeover. Things were so tense that I recorded nothing in my diary during the entire incident. I’m such a doofus.
But, I did write something about Watergate. Look at this. “February 26: Last night the President held a news conference and managed to keep from answering almost every question asked. It’s going to be interesting to know how history handles Mr. Nixon. The majority of us will be in our graves before much of the truth is let out.” And to think, 44 years later someone’s come out with the movie “Mark Felt” which is about Woodward and Bernstein’s source, Deep Throat. Ironic.
Oh, and do any of you remember this? “March 6: Today, about every conversation on campus was about the new fad of streaking. It seems, in this highly sophisticated age, the craze is to take one’s clothes off and run around the campus. Although I have not yet witnessed such an act, I’ve still got my hopes.”
The next day I wrote: “March 7: Tonight Kay and I went down to the campus to witness the streaking craze. We saw several thousand people drinking and watching several guys run the street unclad. It was quite an experience. One that probably got pretty wild after we left.”
I have on-going entries about a few of the research papers and books I had to read over the semester. Kay typed all of my research papers on a borrowed electric typewriter. That’s when you had to count spaces near the end of each page to make sure you’d have room to include the footnotes. Next to a math textbook, a research paper was the worst thing to have to type. There is no telling how many Kay typed for over the two years I was taking courses. That girl did so much for me.
There are so many other incidents recorded in the diary, some of which I remember, but most of which have escaped my memory’s storehouse. What I’ve learned from this brief experience is that you don’t write a diary for yourself, because your brain tends to hide the sad moments, which are the parts I’ve omitted from this reading.
I know it’s important to remember the path we took to get we are, but the remembrance of parts of the journey can darken the mind’s eye. I shall now return the Big Chief to its hiding place… and go hug Kay. I’ll never get over what all she went through for us. For me.