The Long Way Home


Wanamaker Diary, 1922
October 22, 2013, 6:13 AM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,
From my ephemera collection:  Top row: miniature portrait album. Bottom row: vintage love letters. Gertrude's diary.

From my ephemera collection:
Top row: miniature portrait album. Bottom row: vintage love letters and Gertrude’s diary.

Last summer en route to a wedding, we stopped at an antique shop in the unfortunately named town of Shartlesville, where I found a Wanamaker diary being used as a pedestal for some porcelain trinket. I’m always on the hunt for old diaries because I’m a big snoop, so I was excited to discover this one in decent condition. It was previously owned by Gertrude Landis, and while she didn’t write much, it was still a treat to get a tiny peek into the life of a 16-year-old living in a big-small Pennsylvania town in 1922. From Monday, July 10: I went to the movies with Helen to see Thomas Meighen in “Bachelor Daddy.” It was a peachy play I thought.

Originating out of Philadelphia, Wanamaker’s was one of the first major department stores in the country. The diaries served as an almanac, entertainment guide, cookbook and advertising tool for customers. If you’re interested in the history of “grand” department stores  – places where shopping was an architectural as well as sensory experience – the Department Store Museum site is a great place to browse and learn more.

Gertrude, age 16

Gertrude, age 16

The diary contained almanac information.

The diary contained almanac information.

Recipes that I dare you to cook.

Recipes that I dare you to cook.

Excerpt on my birthday.

Excerpt on my birthday.

An important earmarked page: costumes!

An important earmarked page: costumes!

Advertisements, 1922

Advertisements, 1922

A prolific diary week.

A prolific diary week.

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20 Comments so far
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Wow, what an interesting find! Tells you about the person as well as the times that she was in… quite fascinating!

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Comment by angelinahue

It was! I usually don’t find diaries with anything written in them. Even her tiny notes are telling.

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Comment by Lisa

Hmmm, I wonder what I would do with my diaries in the future… think some of things that I wrote in them are probably too embarrassing to be read by my family!

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Comment by angelinahue

I wonder this as well – I used to save all my letters, but now I save emails because so many friends write such good ones, I think of them as letters. I keep my mother’s letters in an old suitcase. I’m not yet ready to read them, but I like knowing they’re there.

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Comment by Lisa

I save personal emails too though I don’t have as structured a filing system as I do for work emails – so most of these emails from friends and family are floating around in my Inbox!

I still keep letters that I’ve received over the years. It’s a shame people don’t write to each other on paper as much these days. I miss the anticipation of opening an envelop bearing the handwriting of someone that I recognise and have been waiting to hear back from. Not quite the same as seeing their names pop up on the email inbox!

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Comment by angelinahue

Oh, it isn’t the same for sure! I remember how I used to choose special stationary, or postcard, depending on who I was writing. I collect old letters too, and I hope that there are others who can appreciate them in the future when I’m ready to pass them along.

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Comment by Lisa

: ) I’m sure that someone will

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Comment by angelinahue

I love old diaries and scrapbooks and the like. You really get a glimpse into a different time.

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Comment by thevintagetraveler

I know! Even the photo albums I started collecting have a rhyme and reason of the previous owner – a little peek into their organized and/or creative minds.

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Comment by Lisa

Fascinating–never heard of these diaries. Great local history, thanks for sharing.

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Comment by Michael Williamson

I hadn’t heard of them either until I found this one. We don’t see gifts from stores like this any longer, it’s kind of awesome that they did this.

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Comment by Lisa

Looks like I just got a new obsession.

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Comment by John

Yay, I’m glad! I’m always on the lookout for these.

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Comment by Lisa

I’d love to travel back in time to that masquerade shop. The titles of the recipes are more scary than the details but I will not take you up on the dare to cook any of them!

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Comment by Photobooth Journal

Katherine! I’m so happy to see you on here : ).
I agree – I was so happy to see Trude’s earmarked pages, and wondered what she would have bought at the costume shop for herself. I’m always curious about old recipes (I collect old cookbooks too), but I’ve never been brave enough to try any of the recipes (especially the ones involving meat in gelatin, even thought I’m really curious).

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Comment by Lisa

…you are truly a treasure hunter… this is marvelous…
Thank you, Lisa!! (…smiling a lot…)

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Comment by karijeppesen

thanks, kari! my husband is actually the one with the treasure-find “skills,” but everyone once in awhile I get lucky :).

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Comment by Lisa

…I can see that!! (…smiling…)

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Comment by karijeppesen

Gertie seems to like Halloween as much as we do.

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Comment by Jeff

A few FB friends found more info on Gertrude: she called herself “Trude” and lived in Cranford, New Jersey, not PA. She was quite the looker too! Thereis a Landis Theater in that town, and I wonder if the theater is named after her family.

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Comment by Lisa




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