Adventures in Thanks-Living

Living the gift of life one breath at a time

The Gift of Doris

(This is a guest post by friend, author, and fellow Compactor, Julia Park Tracey. Be sure to check out the website for the book. Enjoy!)

For the past year I have been sharing snippets and excerpts from the “Doris Diaries,” a collection of diaries from the 1920s through 1940s that I inherited from my Aunt Doris. The first volume of these has just been published as I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926). It has been an unexpected pleasure to spend time in the presence of someone I miss very much, and whose presence in my life was akin to a fairy godmother.

When my great aunt Doris, who passed away in 2011, was beginning to fail, starting to lose some steam in that last of her 101 years, she asked me to take care of her private things, not to leave her frillies and her secrets open to just anyone.

At that time I did not know that Doris had kept journals all her life. I did not know that she had held onto her teenage scribbling – those that embarrass us so much later in life. After she passed, my mother gave me a box of letters and diaries, and I was shocked and thrilled to find this fresh voice, this impish artistic soul, in pen and ink. For all the years I knew Doris – since 1963, if you must know the numbers – I never knew she wanted to be a writer, and never heard this voice. And this voice is lovely and amazing.

When I first started to read her words from 1925, I couldn’t keep from laughing. What a dry wit! I couldn’t keep from swooning with her over the handsome boys and flirtations and moonlit rides in a roadster. Such stories she tells, so casually elegant, so refreshingly blunt. So Doris!

I’ve been asked if I’m telling her secrets and how she would feel about that. I feel confident that Doris, knowing I’m a writer of 30-plus years in publishing and journalism, would not have directed in her will to give this box of her life to me in particular, if she hadn’t wanted to share her story. And the Doris I knew wanted to tell her story; she published her memoirs in 2006, when she was 96. To quote the 16-year-old Doris of 1926, “I love to cause a sensation!”

For me, the gift has been getting to know someone I had already known for 50 years – again, and better, and deeper. And though I miss her, it’s different, and not the sense of absence and loss that usually accompanies a loved one’s passing. I realize how rare and special this is. And I’m grateful, every day.

Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning blogger, journalist and editor. Her book, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926) is available at your local bookstore or through Amazon. Follow Doris’s ongoing diary adventures on Facebook and Twitter at The Doris Diaries, or www.thedorisdiaries.com.

Photos courtesy Julia Park Tracey. Thanks!

Nota Bene: Today is the last day to leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page in order to be entered in the drawing for your own copy of I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926). Don’t miss this opportunity!

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17 thoughts on “The Gift of Doris

  1. Reblogged this on onewritelife and commented:

    Here’s a wonderful essay by friend and fellow author Julia Park Tracey. Check out her book website (links provided) and then get a copy of the book. You’ll enjoy it!

  2. Following the link in your previous blog entry, I read all I could find of the first volume of the diaries and loved it! I called our local library and they looked it up and told me that it was just published in August and my request for it will be given to the director and they would see if they could order it in. I have not heard and likely will not until or if it is acquired. Your links have led me to several things I’ve enjoyed so am always nosey and check them out. Thanks. g.

  3. I don’t think I read enough nonfiction books, so will be interested in reading this one. Also, I write in my journal almost every day, so would like to read someone else’s.

  4. Hi Sharron,

    There’s definitely something captivating about ‘Doris’. Particularly that photo of her above with bows in her hair, looking wise beyond her years. I find myself thinking about what her story might reveal, throughout random parts of my day.
    I had a maternal grandmother around the same age and ,being from opposite ends of the globe (we are Australian), it would be fascinating to compare the two girls’ daily lives, dreams and experiences.
    Will this book be available in Australia?

    – Alison

  5. Linda E. Fleagle on said:

    I kept a diary for a few years. Now I regret I wasn’t disciplined enough to keep it up. But then I’m not so sure I’d want anyone else to read it.

  6. It’s keen to know that the life of a teen girl has not changed! I’ll have to phone up some friends and share this awefully good book!

  7. I’ve been following The Doris Diaries since I heard Julia’s interview on NPR. I really look forward to reading the whole book. 🙂

  8. I love the look and writing of Doris!

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