December 2, 1933
This is the first entry in the first diary I ever kept. I suppose it would be fitting and proper to say this is a long-cherished desire, but such is not the case. I'll admit I've had a sneeky notion of such a thing in days gone by, but the idea was hastily discarded as an "occupation suitable for women"; or possibly it would be more honest to say I had other things I preferred to do, which usually meant loafing. Why this change of heart? Well, to begin with I have a new second-hand typewriter, which, by the way, is a long-cherished desire, and when one cherishes ones desires these days he must needs justify them. This is just another one of those cases of obeying a hunch, and spending the rest of your life proving you are right. By way of proving I am right (self-justification, Garth calls it) I submit that it is within the limitations of even a poor man to sneak away from the hum-drum of life (refer to Arnold Bennett's "How to live", if you don't believe me), and live a life which is distinctly his own, independent of circumstance. Mind you, I don't claim that he should dodge the normal responsibilities of earning a living and contributing to the happiness of loved ones, and to a lesser degree the other members of the human family. I merely insist that everyone should live a life of his own (or her own); and this diary is evidence of my paltry efforts in that direction. Why a diary? Well, a diary is a means of self-expression. Everyone else, except possibly the good wife, is excluded from its pages; hence one can record his true self, through all the passing moods of changing time, and without the reserve and reticence necessary even evidenced in the intercourses with our friends. Furthermore, the subject matter here recorded may or may not be interesting to peruse at some time in the future; it may even be useful. However, be it here resolved that at no time will this diary-keeping become a duty - there may be long gaps in it - it must be spontaneous. This is the dumping ground for fleeting thoughts (how often they evade you when you attempt to capture them from memory), and reflections on the multiplicity of things that invade my consciousness - enthusiasms, aversions, whims, sorrows, dissappointments, successes, ideals - in a word, life.
Right now we are in the depths (Lord, I hope it's the bottom) of the economic depression. There is no object in dwelling on that subject here, except in so far as it affects the purposes of this diary. I am one of the host of individuals who has slowly but surely been weaned from the head-over-heels activities of my profession, and now find myself engaged in the pursuit of bread and butter in a tediously inactive job. Such a transition requires of me that I either settle down to a drab hum-drum (for such is the lot of fully 80% of the population of our nice old industry- ridden town); or I can take on new interests. What new interests? There are no ends of possibilities. It may seem a paradox, but the problem becomes one of selecting, rather than seeking. Let's take stock then of just what we have bitten of and not yet digested.
First, there is the job. Running a power sub-station requires a knowledge of the physical layout of the equipment, ability to operate it, a pride in cleanliness, calmness in emergencies, cooperation with a system, making allowances for the funny notions of fellow employees (which they don't always reciprocate), and, in large gobs, putting in time. Hours and hours of it.
Secondly, the surplus hours referred to in the first activity are devoted to study - when not dozing for want of sleep produced by cock-eyed working hours, and when not indulging in light reading. My reading includes the various electrical technical journals - "Power", "The Electrical World", "Engineering News-Record", "Electric Light and Power", "EEI Journal", and others. An activity which I am about to commence is a course in Business offered by the Lafayette Institute, which is contacted through members of the faculty of the University of Penna. The idea of the thing is that the Engineering courses of Colleges and Universities have heretofore been too exclusively technical, they have insufficient time in a four-year course to coordinate the technical and business worlds. This is a venture which may or may not be of value to me in my future career, but it is wholesome activity and may keep the cobwebbs out of my brainium. These serious studies will need balancing with some other diet; so I intend to continue to read good novels, and biography. This diary is a logical place to record my reading interests. During the past year two novels stand out: Galsworthy's "Forsythe Saga", and Priestly's "The Good Companions". Biographies include Theodore Rosevelt, Charles Francis Adams, Franklin (Fay), two or three Lincolns, Washington, The Adams Family, Hamilton, Jefferson, Penn. I am planning a Cleveland, in view of the similarity of present day money inflation proposals with those of his time. Robert has kept me supplied with philosophic books which I have to take in homeopathic doses. I shall try Marcus Aurelius some of these days.
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