1948 Manuscript Diary of a Retired Teacher and Science Buff With Deep Roots in the Martinez, California Community

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On offer is an interesting diary and associated ephemera kept by a retired natural science teacher who was a Cornell University and University of California graduate. His commitment serving his community was only surpassed by his commitment to his family.

The author of this diary is Professor Glenn Avery Wilcox (1870-1956). Born in Iowa, his family moved to Litchfield, New York when Glenn was a child. He attended Cornell and graduated with a BSc in 1893. He worked as a teacher in New York and Indiana, and then worked at the University of Arizona, where he married Emma Louise Kester (1867-1953) in 1903. In 1906, Glenn and Emma moved to California, where Glenn took a job teaching natural sciences at Alhambra Union High School in Martinez. He remained there for the duration of his teaching career. Glenn and Emma had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Wilcox (later Hamma) (1908-2007) and later, two grandchildren, Bernita and George. In 1911, Glenn completed his Master of Science degree in Geology at the University of California. His Master’s thesis focused on the Geomorphology of the Bay Region. Wilcox was the great great grandson of Revolutionary Sergeant Nicholas Randall and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was extremely involved in the Martinez community. He was a member of the Royal Arch Masons, taking on leadership roles such as that of King and treasurer. He was also a member of the Knights of the Pythians and the local Half Century Club. 

Some excerpts follow, which give the flavour of Glenn’s diary. Of particular note is his assiduous work in recording local weather including temperatures, barometer readings and precipitation. He notes that this is an important part of his daily routine: 

“[Temp] 48 [Barometer] 30.10 Max 66, Min 44, Max Set 51. Clear Strong W. wind. Home all day writing a letter to H Grover an old Westmorelang [sic] NY pupil. He wants to know the setup for Magic Year Squares” [Feb 23, 1948].

“T 52, Bar 30.08, Max 72, Min 51, Max Set 51. Emptied the stove pipe of ashes. F & AM Candidate was refused by Committee. Judge Bray gave a talk on improving children. Now 4% of [?] make criminality. Often the dads are to blame…” [Apr 1, 1948]. 

“T 58 B 30. 02 West, A few clouds…Max 80, Min 55, Max Set 60…A pleasant day clearing up. The chien was done by 3 PM but we did not eat it until well past 4PM. Bernita and Geo [his grandchildren] amused themselves while Clarence and Elizabeth [his son-in-law and daughter] admired the newly fixed apartment. They will move up in a couple weeks…we were all tired” [May 16, 1948].

“[Temperature] 40 [Barometer] 30.20, Cloudy Wind NW. Max 38-42, Min 42-38, Max Set 40. The day for the K. of P. Dinner. I wrote more X=Mas cards and received a few. Elizabeth took her car, herself - Mother and Father Bernita, Georgie. There were enough guests and Brothers and Sisters to fill the tables twice. Entertainment: Dancing Girls: singers; a young musician, helpers. Then: A grab bag of presents. The children were served first, then the women, finally the men took what was left. I got a large handkerchief. Geo Glenn Hamma still lacks a day of being 3 years old but he enjoyed himself and was not a nuisance in anything. We got home before 10 P.M.” [Dec 21, 1948]. 

A more fulsome picture of Glenn emerges through the ephemera tipped into his diary. It includes insurance cards, a typed message from the Master of his Masonic Lodge, including a listing of all officers and a photograph of nearly 2 dozen members of the Knights of Pythias. For a social historian, this diary offers an excellent look into the life of a very successful, well-educated retired family man and dedicated community member. For weather watchers, this diary records detailed weather for Martinez, California each day in 1948. 

This diary measures 6.0 x 3.5 inches. The covers are in good condition though the flap shows signs of folding due to age. The binding is intact. The diary contains approximately 122 pages as well as several interesting pieces of ephemera. The majority of the pages are handwritten in ink, though Glenn has used a typewriter for some of his entries and glued them in. The diary is 100% complete. The handwriting is legible. Overall G.

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