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RETTA CRAIGHEAD [later TINCHER] Listings

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1 RETTA CRAIGHEAD [later TINCHER] 1912 - 1929 HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT DIARY OF A GILDED AGE FEMME FATALE
BOULDER COLORADO CHICAGO ILLINOIS EUGENE OREGON 1912 Very Good Manuscript 
On offer is the original handwritten manuscript diary of a young woman named of Retta Craighead [sometimes identified in the press as Craghead]. The diary covers her life during the years of 1912 to 1929, from the time she was about 16 or 17 until she was 33 or 34. One hundred pages of entries in this 7" x 9" book make for a detailed telling of this fascinating woman's life and along with the handwritten entries Retta has peppered the pages with newspaper clippings revealing that Retta is socially active and in a family whose every bridge game, soiree, slumber party at Neva Brandyberry's, fundraiser and ribbon-cutting ceremony is printed in the local Boulder newspaper. Even when she travels to a friend's home in another state the doings are press fodder. But from happy-go-lucky teenager she enters womanhood disappointed and angry. She will not be returning to her beloved friends at school her Father insists she tells us. No warning and she is instead doomed to be a teacher which she detests. This diary has so many levels. The reader learns that the girl becomes a woman and a 'femme fatale' at that; Retta is engaged two times but never seems to get married to any of the young men she talks about. [There is also a hint of a scandalous affair with a married man.] Then all of a sudden in 1921 she says she's been married now 4 years but says there are things she wishes she could say but doesn't. Towards the end of the diary we do not find any mention of Hugh, the man she married save for his leaving. Sadly her heart gets broken many times but she never leaves out her heartfelt feelings and always expresses her deepest emotions. This is a rare peek into the heart and soul of a young Colorado woman during the Gilded Era, this is a diary heartache and heartbreak. The other wonderful facet of this intriguing diary is that our diarist is an exceptional writer and besides using the diary as a confidant and catalogue of her emotional life we see Retta write super passages about the city of Chicago which is a city much in her life of those years. Additionally as our author is from Boulder, Colorado and the details about her life there are also quite simply super. Lastly she spends time attending school in Eugene at the University of Oregon, although her entries while in Eugene are brief. She does not write daily and some times Retta skips a month and in the later years she skips a few years but she jams the pages full with detail. Blithely, when she does miss and then starts anew she calls it "A New Leaf." Here are snippets: 1912 'February 23rd, Left school at 4 and had dinner at Mrs. P.'s then got my dress and met Ruth and went to Friday Musical club meeting. Then came home and took my dress and showed it to Agnes. Then had an early supper. Then hurried trying to get roses made for my hair then finally got dressed and Clint took me to the Sophomore German dance and O dear had the grandest time. It was awfully crowed. Got home about 2. Had such a time on the car, it was so awfully crowded." (A newspaper clipping places the party at Sternberg Hall.) 1913 "June 25th, I have not been keeping this diary but tomorrow I'm going to Chicago. I'm 20 years old and engaged to be married. Father has bought us a new car and we sure do enjoy it. Billy came over home from Lupton but we are so busy packing. Bill came up and took me to town and then had dinner. Then Ethel and I went to town and met him and we went and bot the tickets. Billy and I went to the house and to got the car and then he took me to Helen Lowter's reception. Billy and I took a long ride out in the country….(she then goes on to say)…I forgot to record the farewell scene so I will proceed to do it on this page. After said ride with dad and mama, Billy and I strolled out on the second terrace to the summer house and sat down. Heaving a sigh that tore off 7 shingles. Then a heart rendering silence. At last Billy very sadly announced that he'd try to have the shingles on ere I return. There being nothing else to say, we fell on each others neck and wept tears of brimey sorrow and parted. Billy promised to write every three hours." "June 26th, We left Boulder at 6:45. Mother and father took us to the station. Billy stayed in Boulder so we 3 went to Brighton to catch the Chicago Train….." "June 27th, Still very hot but arrived in Chicago at 4:30 and got up to Y.W. C.A. without much trouble. Registered and had supper then a bath and then to bed." "June 29th, Breakfast at 8 and then I laid down on the bed and slept until 11. We intended to go to church. Then we dressed for dinner. After dinner wrote a letter then we met a woman who goes with us so we went to Jackson Park and saw sail boats and people swimming in Michigan Lake. There is a lagoon and the prettiest bridges across it. Not kept very well. We did not go thru the Field's building, a building Fields bot after the World's Fair 20 years a go and just parts of the displays in Chicago to his museum. We had ice cream in the Ill building. They are not pretty. Came back to the Y.W…." "July 1st, Got up and had to hurry so fast to get to breakfast then Mrs. Hood and I went to the business part of the city and shopped all morning. Came back to Y.W. for luncheon then at 2:30 went down and crossed the Van Buren Viaduct and over to the Olympian games. They are nothing more than just plain track meets. Then came back to Y.W. Saw suffrage parade, practiced a while then dinner and then wrote home letters and went to P.O. for a walk. Came back and sat in the hall window and saw the boats on the lake. They are so pretty." (She then talks about enrolling at Chicago Music College.) "July 5th, Went on the Christopher Columbus to Milwaukee. Left Chicago at 9:45. The boat was rather crowed but Oh! so grand on the water which was blue green and all different shades. It was so pretty. Got to Milwaukee at 3 p.m. Then we went to Palm Garden and had dinner. They were so slow we just had time to get back to the boat which left at 5 p.m. Coming back the sunset was so pretty. The sun looked like a big ball of fire and made such a pretty sunset and so many pretty clouds. The boat had lunch and café' rooms and we could see land on one side but on the other side just water and beautiful waves. My first boat trip I shall never forget it." "July 8th, Practiced all morning……..Went to go to dinner to "King Joy Lo" A fountain in the center of the first floor with gold fish and clear water. The tables were inlaid with ivory with a dark material. We ate on the first balcony tables just for two. Had chop suey. There was music through the entire evening and Japanese men as managers and waiters. They just seemed to bring things out of the wall. I couldn't figure out where the kitchen was. Then from there we went to the ______hotel. Oh it was grand. They had the ladies waiting room on the 2nd floor and lounge chairs and everything in soft velvety red. I sat down at the writing desk and wrote some cards. Then we went to the P.O. and from there to a Hippodrome, it was quite funny, we laughed……" (At this point in the diary she gives an extensive description (2 ½ pages long) of her trip to Wabash County; Evanston, Wilmette, and Kenilworth. She mentions North Western University, the Home of Francis Willard and so much more. There is also a Garrick Theatre Program pasted to the pages.) "July 24th, Practiced all morning and read in the afternoon, then went to the city. Then after dinner we went to Groves then we walked down to the lake. Oh! so beautiful. There is something so inspiring about the water and as it came in the waves rushed and made such a little rumbling sound so dear. I love it; don't believe I'd ever tire of the lake. Then we went back to the house and they served us refreshments. Then Dr. and Jessie brought us home. We passed P_____ Palmer house a big millionaire's home. Also a different part of the famous Sheridan road and right close to the lake. Oh, it was such a beautiful clear day in the morning. I looked over the lake for the longest time. The pretty green and blue shades and way off there is a lighthouse and the lighthouses can't be seen most days. In the evening when we were coming home we passed apartment houses that rent for $100." (She also goes into the Blackstone hotel and describes that and has pasted an envelope from the hotel to the pages of her diary. There is mention of the Field's & Company store, The Tiffany room, Moody's Church, etc. She takes a trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto and describes that trip also in detail. Finally towards the end of her stay in Chicago she takes another trip to Decatur to visit and stay with a friend.) "August 5th, Getting ready for the party. It was a grand success. Then went to the picture show with the bunch." (There are several newspaper clipping attached to this page that talk all about the party on this day, one of them says; "It was a very congenial circle of eighteen girl friends whom Miss Neva Brandyberry invited to her home yesterday afternoon to meet her friend, Miss Retta Craighead of Boulder Colo. The girls brought their sewing, and while some busied themselves with their needles, others played and sang. The time passed all too swiftly, until 6 o'clock, when a two course luncheon was provided. Ferns and the pungent nasturtium were used in the room decorations." "August 18th, Got up early and packed my suit case and dressed then went downstairs and Gerladine was quite sick. The Dr. came while I was eating and said "Scarlet Fever" and for me to skip if I didn't want to be put in quarantine but Mr. Pax never took me to the train at 8 and was so lonesome. Got to Wolscott at 11 and went to hotel and ate dinner. Got to Chicago at 5 and went to Y.W.C.A." "August 21st, Got up at 5, dressed and at 6 took a car to Union station. Bought my ticket then Harry came and we had breakfast and I left for Portland at 7. Such a dirty time. Got there at 11 and cousin Molly met me and we arrived at her home at 1. Oh, hungry as a bear. We had fried chicken then after dinner I slept awhile. She has a Negro mammy and Oh! I how funny and strange I felt when the negros came around me. We sat out on the ground after supper then at 9 some relatives came and that made it a little bit more exciting." She mentions that she is very worried that she has Scarlet fever. She was pretty good writing most days during this year but the entries stop on September 6th and with that the next page goes on to say; "A NEW LEAF 1915 February 2nd, I am now in Eugene Oregon going to the university." (She talks of being pledged into the sorority, dances, studies, etc.) "Well this June and all April and May have been such wonderful months. Prentiss asked me if I'd marry him and yes, Oh! such a wonderful night and such a wonderful man. June 5th, Sunday I went to church with Mrs. Brown and Catherine Riddle. We met Prentiss coming from town. He called right after lunch and we went up to Henderson Park and there in a quiet shady place he put on a diamond ring. Got back to the house about 4 and told the girls and Oh! such fun. Oh! so romantic. Each one kissed me. Oh! I love the girls so dear…." 1916 "ANOTHER NEW LEAF Sept. 1st, Came to Canon City Colorado to teach school Music and English. Went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas." "February 7th The most disappointment I have ever had in my life. Father just refused to let me go back to school. Have cried all night. I am just sick. Never wanted anything so much in all my life before. Edith went back and Prentiss graduates. Oh! I just know I'll never get over this. Oh! I want to go so much, think of all the good times. Moved to the Miller Hotel and it is a little lovelier then at Mr. Warners. But oh, if I could only go, I despise teaching. I hate. I thought surely father would say yes…." "March 6th, Oh, I just hate life. If I could just be and I believe I'd be happy. Oh! I hate teaching and school. I want to go back to Eugene for commencement. I just know, I just can't and Oh! I just hate this old world. It is so cruel. These last months have been just almost been unbearable. It just wish I could die. Was never so unhappy in my life….." "April 19th, A letter from Prentiss and I received the blow that would kill at first but as the hours wore on I began to think I could stand it. He wrote rudely and bold that I do not love you and a lot of other cruel things. I intend to return the ring. Oh it seemed as tho my heart would break away. I immediately wrote and told Stewart I didn't care for him and never would." (There is a newspaper clipping around this time in the diary of the marriage between Prentiss Brown and Ida Mae Humphrey. Looks like the two had a "quiet wedding" in Corvallis. The clipping states that it was a "surprise to everyone.") Retta then talks about climbing up Flag Staff, going to Rockvale, Glacier climbing, etc. She seems so unhappy for quite some time and still wishes to go back to Eugene and mentions Berkley. She skips her entries from May-December and just has brief sporadic entries for the year 1917. There is also several pages full of newspaper clipping having to do with Retta and her family, general news about the outings they took. This is when years are skipped and the next year represented is 1921. "April 29th, Went to grand opera in Denver. Had a most wonderful time. Thrilled most to pieces. Loghengrin. Risa Rosa the leading lady. It was wonderful. Caught the last car home." "May 10th, Married 4 years. H. (Hugh) gave me a dozen rose buds. To bed early. Hugh went some where else. Dear little book, I wish I dared write a few things here but no. My heart is heavy often times. That's all." "July 5th, A big celebration in Boulder and it was raining so hard in camp we broke camp and come down about noon. After dinner and a good bath we went to a movie. H., Mollie, Linette and Clint……" "Dear little book, such a busy summer, so happy and yet sad. H. has gone and guess left July 18th." 1922 "April 16th, Things are in such a horrid mess. Easter night, a heavy heart and sad. Hugh is gone, been gone since July." "September 13th, School. Still cold. Went home and started for the country to get Jenkins and John. We played thru the cucumber fields then he took me to dinner then to a movie. He is awfully nice and I wish he were worth millions and millions. He is so honest and good and I hope he isn't so sick. He is lots of fun to play with and I could almost love him but I won't, I won't. My dear old pal, but oh! where are we going. I love him." "October 12th, Went to the library tried to fight out my big battle and I know I'm a fool not to give it up but love is queer and I believe I'd be bigger to stay here than to runaway. Walk along way and tried to fight it out. I care but why should I, the world's big but one." "November 1st, This is a hectic fall. I just can't seem to get a hold on myself. I'm so unhappy but know it is the best. I am glad that I'm big enough to give up the man I really love and have loved all this time. It is wrong to love him, I wonder how long I'll have to fight it out. It can't last always. The mornings are not so bad but the evenings and nights seem so hard to be brave. It is harder then last fall." (Speculation: is she in love with a married man??) There are sporadic entries for 1923 and then all of a sudden Retta picks back up in 1929. The last eight pages are devoted to a trip they take to the East coast visiting Newport, Providence, Cliff Beach, staying at the Breakers Hotel, Rye Beach, etc. Also towards the end of the diary she spends a lot of time driving into Denver to take unspecified "treatments". It seems like a lot has been quoted but it's only the tip of the iceberg. The cover on this diary is very rough but the pages are all attached to the binding and look clean. A superb diary. 
Price: 1859.99 USD
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