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Ellen Emery

A fascinating article in Sunday’s Watertown Daily Times described the journey of a World War I diary written on the battlefields of France. Reporter Chris Brock detailed the story of James F. Larney’s diary.

Mr. Larney, according to the article, recorded what he had seen during his service in World War I. He recorded the details of what he witnessed in a diary measuring 5-by-7 inches and containing about 220 pages. It was “stained by mud and rain of the battlefields,” Chris Brock wrote.

The article featured the diary’s return to France where it had been written. The journey of this diary was the central point of this wonderful article. I thank Chris Brock for sharing the remarkable journey of the diary and the Larney family.

The article started my thinking on keeping a diary. One of my favorite books is “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank.

The book is a diary of a 16-year-old who chronicled her life in hiding during World War II. It is an amazingly detailed sharing of this young woman’s life.

I wonder how many today actually record their activities in a diary. I love to receive text messages from family members and friends — it is fun to “visit” instantly as activities are happening.

But this new text speak language worries me a bit. (OK is shortened to KK with many times a heart or laughter attached to the message with no written response). I wonder if the history of our neighbors and the north country is being recorded for others to read and remember.

I knew my parents’ kept journals, especially my father, but didn’t realize until we were sorting through their treasures after their passing how much both of my parents recorded in diaries. It was fascinating for me to read my mother’s diaries — notes on a calendar — of their many activities, meetings to attend and visitors in their home. Each trip to England, Scotland and Wales had been recorded in detail in their handwriting noting their activities and friends, and always the dinner menu.

I discovered quite by accident a diary my father had kept the year of my birth. And, yes, he recorded every detail of the birth of his eldest daughter. What a joy to find that part of the recorded history of our family in my father’s handwriting.

If you do keep a diary, that is marvelous — I am sure your family will treasure a part of recorded history. If you don’t already write in a diary, I would urge you to begin. I am sure you visit by phone, text or send an email from time to time — but I am also sure there are many fascinating details of your day that have never been shared.

Take a moment and just make notes on a calendar — there are beautiful hardcover books (including calendars) available that are perfect for recording your family’s history. You might be surprised at how fascinating your life is — especially when shared with family.

The notes made by my mother of the joy of her grandchildren were wonderful — a treasured part of our recorded history. There are diaries available as well and journals for recording in detail the activities of your day.

I hope as you prepare for the New Year that you will find a diary and put 2022 at the top and begin to record your story. What a treasure that will be.


My thanks today to Dalton on CKON-FM. There were a few errands in Massena on Monday.

A stop at Price Chopper for salmon was wonderful. The gentleman at the seafood counter is always a joy to visit with (and his masks are such fun!).

On Monday, there was an opportunity to visit with a gentleman from the meat department, too. Both were so pleasant and helpful.

Another stop wasn’t as joyful. Since I always try to emphasize the positive in this column, there will be no sharing of my second shopping excursion.

For me it was a complete disaster. I began my drive home from Massena with less than an attitude of gratitude, I am sorry to admit.

I turned on the radio in my car and Dalton was the noontime DJ. He played “Walking in Sunshine.”

As the song concluded, Dalton told listeners it was a wonderful way to begin the week with sunshine. He asked what it might be like if the sun filled clouds were darkened. No, he said — it was sunny, emphasizing how marvelous this was on a Monday morning. I smiled and agreed. I had nothing to be upset about — I had been able to drive to Massena on clear roadways. And I was able to purchase salmon for our supper — and, yes, the sun was spectacular and the sky azure.

A beautiful day in the north country. My thanks to Dalton for making my Monday a good one — one filled with gratitude for a local FM station and a gentleman with a marvelous positive outlook on life.


When not gardening or repairing clocks, The Gardener enjoys putting jigsaw puzzles together. They are now completed when our feline friend, Tigger, is sleeping.

Tigger enjoys puzzles, too, but not in the same way as The Gardener. Tigger loves to bite the pieces, shaking his head and tossing them on the floor. He also enjoys lying in the middle of the puzzle pushing pieces everywhere.

Last year I told you about a gift I had purchased for The Gardener: a puzzle that depicted the front page of the New York Times published on the birth date of the one putting the puzzle together. It was completed and was glued and framed for hanging.

This year I discovered a new puzzle offering. The catalog description was a personalized “Hometown” jigsaw puzzle complete with an aerial photograph. I was fascinated and thought this would be a terrific puzzle for The Gardener’s winter indoor activity.

The puzzle arrived this week. The pieces were carefully placed on the table.

I was shown the photo of the competed puzzle. The poor Gardener has his work cut out for himself.

Have you figured out what our “Hometown” might look like from an aerial view? It is 100% greenery!

The entire puzzle is green with a small gray area designating the roadway and a few tiny markings of our home and the homes of our neighbors. The puzzle piece designating our home is cleverly shaped like a house so it can be distinguished from the others.

The puzzle assembly has begun, and I can see progress being made. But I honestly don’t know how.

Our “hometown” thankfully is comprised of not shops and buildings and homes but beautiful green trees and fields! And for that we are most grateful — even though it might make a jigsaw puzzle difficult!


“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

— Anne Frank

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