Fifteen-year-old Doris Bailey’s 1920s diary offers insight into history, culture and the everyday travails of a teenager.
After Great-Aunt Doris’ death, Tracey (Tongues of Angels, 2003) discovered Doris’ diaries and, after realizing that they were packed with rich detail and narrated by an inimitable voice, decided to publish them. Doris is willful, smart and hilarious, and her personality comes through clearly in her writing. She began keeping a diary in July 1925 and kept doing so for decades. This volume covers the first two years of her journaling, telling engaging tales of school, ranch vacations and boys. She lived in Portland, Ore., with her three brothers, her mother and her architect father. Doris constantly pushes the envelope with her conservative, Southern parents: “Got me a new sport hat. Mother will probably kick a fuss, but I can’t help it.” Doris rebelled in other ways as well; she swore from time to time, then crossed out the offending words and chose others. She also spent quite a bit of time thinking about, seeing and kissing different boys—many of whom are named Jack—and ranked them in terms of how interested she was. She seems quite modern in her attitudes toward love and dating; she and her friends regularly swapped boys. Along the way, she also experienced the difficulties that all teenagers go through, including strict parents, struggles to earn good grades and fights among friends. Although these diaries are nearly 90 years old, Doris sounds much like a teenager of today, and readers will look forward to reading future volumes. Tracey is an able editor, providing relevant, informative footnotes and including occasional photos of Doris’ friends and family and the places she visited.
A thoroughly enjoyable read and a fun look at the 1920s through the eyes of a teenager.