Monday, September 5, 2016

A 1971 Writer's Notebook

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.

Last week a former student walked into my room and said, "Mrs. Eck, I know you like old things, and I thought you might like this."  She handed me an old journal.

"Where did you get this?"  I asked her.

"I found it in an old abandoned house in my neighborhood."

Upon further inspection, I noticed the pages, brown and brittle with the passage of 
time, but on each page, the writer captured the finest details of his day, recorded with neat penmanship and written with a black marker.  Every single day was recorded.

Anyone who blogs, especially those who slice, knows the power of a story.  We know that stories are all around us, and we know everyone has a story to tell.  

As I read through the pages, I began to wonder what stories this journal held.  

I found out his name was Chauncey Carr, and he lived in Louisville, Kentucky and here in Vincennes, Indiana.  

I believe he had a close relationship with his mother because he frequently wrote letters to her, and on Mother's Day he sent her $5.00.  She must have lived in my hometown, yet he traveled quite extensively - many trips to Louisville, Evansville, Cincinnati, Terre Haute, and New York City.  Again, recording all of his travels and collecting artifacts and ephemera which were carefully glued into the journal.

At some point he lived at the YMCA and "sunbathed on the rooftop."  He spoke about his quiet evenings in his room and the people who came to visit with him.

He listed his meals - what he ate, with whom he ate, and where he ate.  I assume that because he lived at the YMCA, he ate most of his meals out because he listed the cafeterias and the restaurants.  

His mother regularly sent food with him because when he would return from a trip home, he mentioned that he had a "quiet meal, food from home, in my room".  I know he enjoyed a "Big Boy (whatever that is) and pecan pie at Frisch's", and he must have made a mean Italian meatloaf when he visited home.

He was a reader!  He recorded when he finished books in the daily pages and kept a running list in the back.  He favored Agatha Christie and shopped frequently at used book stores.

To many people, this journal would be considered junk or trash.  I consider it a treasure.  He must have been a disciplined writer to record his life each and every day.

In one entry, he mentions a family that I knew from my childhood.  He says he took James "Digger" Foster to a department store and bought him a cap.  He also mentions James' sister, Rhonda on her 5th birthday.  James and I went to elementary school together, and we would have been seven years old at the time.

I would love to find out more about Chauncey.  I imagine the two of us sitting on a porch, he telling the stories in a voice like Morgan Freeman, and I listening to his every word.

He never mentions any family other than his mother.  I wonder how old he was when he lived here?  Did he pass away here?  Is he buried here?

I have always said I am a notebook wanna-be.  Seeing this notebook is simply 


  1. I love this, Leigh Anne! It is a treasure and an inspiration. I just truly started my journaling this year and it has been rewarding. Thanks for sharing. ~Amy

  2. Oh my goodness! What an incredible discovery! I am wondering so many things with you.

  3. What a fun gift and now a fun musing about Chauncy. Keep us posted if you find out anything more about his life.

  4. Wow!!! Wow!!! Wow!!! I am in awe! This is amazing! I hope this serves as a jump start for your own notebook-ing adventures! Thank you for sharing!! LOVE this!

  5. What an amazing gift! I'm sure you were brought back in time. I kept a diary in 1974-75 and it is full of teen angst. I'm not sure I'd want someone else to find it. Thanks for sharing and for making us realize once again the power of our own story.

  6. This is a treasure. How fortunate you are. I wonder where he is? I wonder how his journal stopped being his and was lost? Forgotten? Is he living?

  7. That is an amazing treasure. You are going to have to put on your sleuthing hat and find out more about him.

  8. What a treasure! I enjoyed your post and a peek into Chanuncey's journal.

  9. It is a treasure, and how wonderful that your student brought it to you, Leigh Anne. This might be a project for you, to discover more about this writer who's come into your life? Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. Such a thoughtful student! However, I'm taken aback by the reference to old stuff and the date is 1971, yikes! 1971 is still in my working memory and not considered old to me (I admit, I am in denial about my age and passage of time). This journal is a treasure! What a find!