Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Muncie Boyhood-My Father's Journal

Last week, while I was digging through some of my dad's old papers looking for a picture for my last Boyhood blog, I stumbled upon a spiral bound notebook.  I must have seen it before, but just never paid any attention to it.  This time, I stopped in my search and said aloud: "I wonder what that is."  It had a light blue cover and had an old paperclip closing off a section.  I pulled it out, sat down, and unclipped the pages.

Flipping open the cover, I saw the heading:  "December 1961."  Geesh, I thought.  That was the month I was born.  Then, I saw the first entry date:  "Dec. 24."  Wow!  Six days before my birth!  For the next hour, I abandoned my search in order to read my dad's intimate thoughts from December 24th, 1961 to July 25th, 1963.  Although the consistency of his entries wanes after the first few months of my life, the intensity of his life is only amplified until it culminates in the last four words he entered.

I am providing the full journal below.  I have added a few comments that are in brackets and the font is changed to blue.  I have striven to maintain the original spelling and grammar...except where auto-correct has foiled my efforts..., so don't be surprised at the obvious errors.  I have left them there on purpose.

I hope you are as intrigued as I was.....and, without further delay....

The Journal of Ralph R. DeCamp:

December 1961

Dec. 24 – Snowing will be a white Christmas.  Marge & Sharon bought most of the gifts.  I had no money after the family expenses.  Freddie & Violet have no work so must be helped.  To-nite Christmas eve we open our gifts.  All happy but Marge a little hurt because I could get her so little.

Dec. 25.  Christmas day.  Cold-white & beautiful on the Lord’s birthday.  Our baby (me) due soon.  Marge & I spend the day alone.  She fixed a big dinner but the children are all away.  Alice & Mariline drop in as we finish our late dinner  Alice eats a little.

Dec. 26 – First day of work on second shift.  (Chevrolet)  Called home at 7:00 PM.  Margie having pains.  Dutch picks me up at the shop.

Dec 27 – 3:00 A.M.  Take Margie to hospitable.  Mickey drives us out.  It has started to snow  Sharon working hard as usual at baby sitting.  Have been urging Bob to get a job.  Won’t work to-day.

Dec. 28 – No baby.  Margie having false labor pains.  Its snowing & colder.  Won’t go to work to-day

Dec. 29 – Still no baby.  I’m tired but must go to- work.  It’s snowing hard this after-noon.  Lenard picks me up at hospitable.  Have a car accident on way to work.  Slide into a little compact car.  No damage to Lenards car

Dec. 30 – It’s Saturday morning.  Cold but very beautiful this morning with the sun shining on the new snow.  Just as it is suppose to be when baby is born  Margie pains getting worse & closer to-gether.  Baby born at 11:02 A.M.  A boy 6lbs 7ozs  Mother & boy ok.  I go to work.

Dec. 31.  Out to see Margie & Baby at hospitable.  Bob has fall at hospitable  Must be checked before we leave  We drop Sharon off at her friends home an arrive at home about 10:30pm  Must name baby.  Bob & I spend a quiet New Years eve watching T.V.  Gave Freddie & Violet money to get along


Jan. 1 – Margie & baby ok.  We name the baby Michael Raymond.  It’s brother Miles’ birth day  The weather turning colder to-nite with wind.

Jan. 2  Cold & windy  Send Bob to look for work.  No luck he says.  Margie & Michael ok.

Jan. 3,  Mickey drives me out to bring home Margie & baby.  She buy gifts for the baby.

Jan. 4  All’s well at our home.  Sharon still working long hours baby sitting for people.  Bob & Freddie have no work.

Jan. 5  God is kind.  All is well

Jan 6.  Twenty-five dollars to Freddies.  He can’t find work

Jan 7. – Cold & sunny.  Bob was to look for work this week but it may be to-cold.

Jan 8  Monday very cold.  Bob doesn’t go out to look for work.  Red Foster pays ten dollars on old debt

Jan 9.  Very cold  12 below zero

Jan 10.  Still very cold.  Below zero but sunny  Margie sick

Jan 11  Margie no better.  It’s a little warmer to-day

Jan 12  Margie better.  She has gone to shop.  Bought a coat dress purse shoes etc.  I had a time at South way Shopping-Center.  Bags burst on me.  Resacked them & brought cab home.  Bob gets job at Meadows shopping center  will go to work next week.  Foster pays another ten on debt.

Jan 13  Saturday went to Yorktown with Jack.  Listened to ball game.  Came home to find I had forgotten Freddie & Violet.  They were here & had to move.  Gave them the usual twenty-five dollars & got the move post poned

Jan 14  Sunday – Bob gets a mean injury playing basketball.

Jan 15  Bob much better.  Goes to work  I still working nites.

Jan 16  Have a nasty cold

Jan 17  Cold no better. Family ok

Jan 18  Cold to-day.  Gave Freddie his twenty-five dollars for rent & groceries

Jan 19  Bought most of our weeks grocerys to-day at South-way shopping Center  Paid bill at Sears.  Red Foster pays another Ten dollars on debt.

Jan 20  Paid bill at Sears & finished shopping for grocerys.

Jan 21  Sabath – Restful day – God is good to this house

Jan. 22  All well with family

Jan 23  A cold but sunny day  Loads of sun shine this winter

Jan 24 – Margie about wore out

Jan. 25  Cold but sunny.  God is good to us.  Bob says Freddie has job with furnace man.  Bob working as is Sharon  Bought some groceries to day.

Jan 26 – Started raining early.  Ground frozen.  Water running off fast.  Rivers full of ice will flood.  Lenard brings me home with grocerys.  Had a very hard nights work.

Jan 27  Saturday.  Bob blows most of his first check for Watch & lighter.  Gave me four dollars for board.  Sharon has sun tan stuff all over face, hands, and arms.  She looks terrible

Jan 28.  The Lord’s day.  God has been good to us.  Helped Freddie & Sharon with there income tax forms.

Jan 29 – Robbie & Helen take Margie & Michael to doctor for check up  They’re ok.  Baby is 20 ½ inches long.  Weighs 8lbs 7oz.  Bob stays all nite at John’s.

Jan. 30.  Baby eats his first solid food.  Received check for doctor.

Jan. 31  Cold wind to-day.  Freddie isn’t Working this week so far.  Bob goes to work.  Bought some of our grocerys.

Feb. 1  Bob didn’t come home last nite  Fixed bath drains today; also fixed tire for Boyle’s.  Had about 3 inches of snow last nite.  It’s cold.  Freddie gets another 25 dollars.

Feb 2. – Ground-hog see shadow.  Pay some bills & get grocerys.  Foster pays another ten on debt.

Feb 3.  Attended union meeting.  The Matchetts have there new baby.  A girl.

Feb 4.  Over to see the new baby at Mickeys.  She’s very pretty.  The day is warm & there’s plenty of sunshine.  Tempeture in the 60s.

Feb 5.  Bob off to work this morning  Sharon home.  Has quit job.  They’re 57 dollars behind on her wages  Shes afraid they will never pay.  Baby fussing this morning.

Feb. 6  Very cold and windy near zero

Feb. 7  Sharon receives ten dollars of her back wages.  Warmer to-day.

Feb. 8.  Baby sick with it’s first cold.  Makes me uneasy.  Mickey baby sick; Sharon goes over to help.  Bob not working to-day; Don’t know about Freddie.

Feb. 9  Snowing to-day; about two inches  Not so cold.  Bob gets fired.  Freddie comes in with clothes.  He & Frau have another quarrel.  Willard Foster pays all of principal on old loan with another Ten dollar payment.

Feb. 10.  Clear skies to-day.  Must find means of getting more grocerys

Feb. 11  The Lord day.

Feb. 12  Hard days work.

Feb. 13  Slept late cold feels better.  The weather warmer near 34◦

Feb. 14  A valentine from Earle & Lois for the baby.  Michaels first.  A check for ten dollars inside.  Marge buys baby bed. I have a bad cold.  Eyes watering & nose running.  Bob working tomorrow for John.

Feb. 15  Still warm.  My cold no better.  Bob off to work.

Feb. 16  Cold to-day.  Paid some bills and bought some grocerys.  Foster pays another ten dollars on debt leaving a balance of only fifteen dollars.

Feb. 17  The orbiter flight of John Glenn again postponed.  Freddie still working.  Bob working for John.  Not happy.

Feb. 18  the Lord’s Day.  He is good to this home.

Feb. 19,  Blue Monday.  Cold, windy with rain changing to snow.  Tomorrow the space flight of John Glenn is again scheduled.  May God be with him.

Feb. 20  the space flight of John Glenn is off.  All is well.  Right now in 3 orbit.  Michael has learn to play a little.  His is growing fine.  The sun is out.  Its cold but nice out.

Feb 21.  The flight of John Glenn a great sucess.  Had over two inches of snow last nite & this morning.  Michael receives a card from the Shenk’s with a five dollar bill.

Feb. 22  Mickey pays us a visit with her baby Laura Ann.  Bob didn’t get to work for John

Feb. 23  Freddie job about to end.  He received notice to move.  Landlady can’t stand their fights.  Bob not working to-day.  Complaining of sore shoulder.  Weather cold.  Looks like another  storm brewing.

Feb. 23, Cont.  Foster pays debt in full.  There’s a bad snow storm going on.  Some of the fellow go home from work at supper time.

Feb 24.  Bearcats win the Sectional.  Violet spends the night here.  Freddie out messing around.

Feb. 25  Violet goes home to mother.  Freddie doesn’t seem to care.  Went with Jack over to Clints & then back to his place.  All there children are well & so much fun.  The Lord’s day a pleasant one.  Warm & the snow leaving fast.

Feb. 26  the baby goes to the doctor’s to-day for check up.  Snow nearly gone.  Freddie goes on rampage again.  Completely wrecked Sharon’s room upsetting all the furniture & slashing most of Sharons clothing.  Margie call police but he leaves.

Baby ok.  Now weighs 11lbs 3z.

Feb. 27  Margie cleans up mess in Sharon’s room.  I’m so discouraged.  May God help us.  Its cold.

Feb. 28.  Very cold.  Walk home from work.  (2 miles)  Lenard sick.  Stopped grocery on way home from work.  Bought what I could carry.

March 1.  Very cold.  Mickey pays us a visit.  There baby sure is a beauty.  Michael good today.  Mickey takes Sharon over to Leo Darts home to try to get some of her money.  He refused to give her any of it; also got real nasty with her.

March 2.  Still very cold.  Paid the bills today.  The baby very cross.  Freddie picks up his last check.

March 3  Freddie stops in a minute.  That’s all I know.  Ramsey called wants to buy Margie old car.  Still very cold.

March 4.  Freddie & Violet move back in home.  He blowed all his money on an old car; had no place to sleep nor money for food.  It’s cold & snowing

March 5  Freddie & Violet sleep on floor.  It’s still cold & snowing.  The little one (Michael) is ok.  Wants to play some now.

March 6  Had another snow storm last nite.  About 4 or 5 inches with some drifts.  Sharon wants to marry.  The man, Bill Sours.  Will try to get the Judges ok to-day.  Helen keeping the baby while they go to town.

March 6. Con.  Sharon to marry to-morrow.  Wants me at wedding.  Will have to miss work & we need the the money desperatly.  Freddie & Violet will have to live in until he gets a steady job.

March 7  Ash Wednesday.  Sharon and Bill were married to-day at 6:00 P.M. in the South Side Baptist Church.  Reverend David Davison perform the cermony.

March 8.  Rainney & chilly.  Bill leaves for Camp Dix New Jersey to-morrow

March 9.  Bill gone back to camp.  Sharon home.

March 10.  Listened to the basket ball game  Muncie lost to Anderson.

March 11  Cloudy & warm.  Slept late.  Tooth ake for several days now.  Production raised at Chevrolet  Now running 640 per day; up 50

March 12  Cloudy & rain.  First day of new production schedule; 650 per day

March 13.  Marge takes baby over to Mickey’s  Violet worried about Freddie  Bob working for John.  Cold with snow mixed with rain.

March 14  Cold & cloudy.  Marge very nervis.

March15  Freddie a big worry.  Baby not well.

March 16.  Bought some grocerys.

March 17  More grocerys to buy.  Sharon wants to go see her husband.

March 18  The Lord’s day.  All well.

March 19  Still quite cold

March 20.  Took Bob to doctor yesterday for a banged up nose.  Its not broken but must be taped up.

March 21  Michael better.  Freddie fixing up his Mothers old car.

March 22  Sharon returns from South Carolina & visit with Bill.

March 23  Freddie not working.  Things are bad here at home.

March 24  First day of sun shine in over a week.

March 25, The Lord’s Day.  Cloudy but not so cold.  Have not had one warm day this year

March 26  Some sun to-day.  Robbie & Helen take Margie & Baby to doctor.  Michael gets some shots.  He now weighs 13 lb. & 5 oz.; 23 ½ inches in height

March 27.  Michael sleeping.  The day sunny & warmer.

March 28 – Nice day

March 29  Received light bill $21.27.  A back breaker.  The sun is shining.  It’s warm & windy.  Margie washing to-day.

March 30 – Cool & cloudy.  Paid the bills & bought grocerys.

April 7,  Cold & windy.  Bought more grocerys.

April 8  the Lord day.  Rain  Michael has his first cold.  Freddie & Violet still a big worry.  Bob’s cold no better

April 9,  Rain.  Sharon in Indianapolis for over a week.  Staying with her sister-in-law.

April 10  Warm & sunny.  Michael cross with cold.

April 19.  Round of colds has hit the family.  Michael better.  Bobby at Brazil.  Sharon at her sister-in-laws.  Freddie no job as yet. It’s hard to meet the bills.  It’s a bright day.

April 30 – Have our first spring rain with thunder & lightning.  It came as a climax of a week of warm day & nights.

May 6.  Another rain.  It’s been a dry spring.  Cool after the rain

May 8.  Another rain last night  Freddie working in Filling station.

May 28,  The long dry spell is ended.  Have had 3 nice rains in as many day.  The peonies are blooming but won’t last long  Freddie & Violet have there own place now.  Bob stay with John.  Sharon home yesterday & to-day.  Michael recovering from bad cold.  As of last Saturday he now turns over by him self.  Weight 16 lb 6 oz  May 11.  Twenty 25 inches in height

June 18  Hot to-day after several very pleasant days.  Perhaps it will rain.  Michael doing well.  Weight 17 lb 15 oz as of the 11th of this month; 25 inches long.  Bob gone most of the time  Freddie & Violet still having their troubles.  Some one stole their rent money.  Freddie fired because of spark plugs missing at station while he was on duty.  Sharon starts restruant work to-day.

Dec. 14  Robert in the Army; left the Dec. 12.  Sharon has an apartment.  Still have to keep Freddie & Violet.  They can’t find work.  Michael cut his first tooth September 12.  Had 3 more less than a month later.  Gets all over the house crawling & walking around things  Says a few words.

The last few days in November were really unusual; lasted until the 4th of Dec.  Real Indian summer  quiet sunny days with temperatures in or near 70◦s.  This week is very cold.  Below zero with some snow here & heavy snow north near lakes.

Dec 27.  Cold & clear to-day.  Zero weather to-day & a prommise of the same for to-morrow.  Nice Xmas.  Michael loves the Christmas tree.  He won’t touch.  Much be the wonder of it.  Robert goes back to Camp Knox New Years.  Must be there the second.


Jan. 12  Margie took Michael to the doctor Thursday.  He weighs 21 lb 13 oz.  Is 29 ½ inches in height.  Freddie still without work.  Have a letter from Bob at Fort Knox.  He’s doing ok.  Sharon has an apartment.  The weather has been warm & the snow gone.  It’s turning much colder to-day.  Margie over the Flu; now leaving for the shopping center.

Jan. 13  Very cold this Sunday.  All ok  Checking accounts & find myself in a bad way.  Must write a letter to Bob.

Feb. 10  Quiet Sabbath.  Michael some better.  Winter hanging in there.  It snowing a little to-day.  Have a army group picture from Bob.

Feb. 17.  A quiet Sabbath.  Freddie in deep trouble.  Sharon has a car.  Wrote another letter to Bob.  Filed my gross taxes.

March 3  Michael started walking the 26 of February.  Helen and Robbie taught him with a cigarrette lighter he wanted.  Had a heavy snow last Friday about like last year.  Worked over time again.  Make the third week.  Bear-Cats win the Sectional.  Freddie still in jail.  Bob doing his for Uncle Sam.  I’m very discouraged.

March 11 – Cold and rainy.  Freddie’s lawyer to try for lower bond.  All are well except for cases of nerves  Sharon here for a little while Sunday.  Bob called.  Needed money which I couldn’t spare.  Work six days the past two weeks  May God be with us & love us!  “Bear-Cats” win at New Castle Regional.

March 17.  Cloudy & warm.  All are well this quiet Sabbath day.  Have hope for Freddie now.  May God be with us.  The “Bear-Cats” win Semi-finals at Indianapolis.  Have worked the last three Saturdays “by the grace of God.”  No letter from Bobby this week.

March 24,  A very lovely Sabbath with sunny skies.  No word from Robert this past week.  Freddie home on bond.  Sharon some better after a nervis collapse.  Michael ok.  “Bear Cats” win state Crown  65 to 61  Worked six days but finnacial standing very precarious.  Had so many extra expenses

April 1st  Very warm & nice this morning after raining all day yesterday.  Lord has been good.

July 25  The weather hot.  Having some rain after long dry spell.  Things are very discouraging.  Freddie in trouble again an in jail.  Was jailed July 13 for forgery.  This time he was played for a sucker.

Robert in Alaska for a couple of months Seems to be doing better. 

The basement & garage full of Freddie & Sharons junk.  Very depressing to look upon. 

Margie some better from a bad ulcer. 

Michael doing fine.  Was 32” in height and weighed 23 lbs at 18 months

Am losing all hope


  1. wow, that really was interesting, I was trying to figure out how old my dad was and I figure he was 16 because I thought my mom sent he went into the army at 16 (lied on his paperwork). sounds like grandma and grandpa were very humble people and struggled a lot to get work and groceries and keep their family going. Even asking my dad to work at such a young age, as opposed to going to school?? crazy, and the winters there, wow that seemed very depressing at times, especially you can hear his heart breaking when freddie or my dad ends up in trouble. so heavy on his heart. Thanks for sharing this! very very interesting and it made me feel like a fly on the wall back then. neat. are you still in amazement at the christmas tree? ha ha, love the image I have of you as a baby staring up at the christmas tree! Love you, Bobbie

  2. Bobbie,
    I think the whole work vs school thing was your dad's idea. I'm pretty sure he dropped out on his own...but, after he did, dad wanted him working. I could be wrong about that, but that's what I think I've heard in the past. And, once again I've reached a point in my life where I find the Christmas tree to be wondrous. Uncle Mike

  3. That last line put up against so many Sabbath Day praises even when things weren't great is what makes this piece which could have been ordinary be anything but that. I got a kick out of your dad keeping an exact record as most people - and usually the mother - only take time to do for their Firstborn. It's amazing considering his age and your place as youngest in the family. You were pretty cranky in his records LOL! My mom said I never stopped crying the entire first 3 months of my life. Guess I was more than cranky!! :-) just realizing what a great man he was for supporting his daughter when her husband didn't is inspiring. $25 was a lot of money back then and he gave it so many times. It became a big source of his depression. A strong man brought to a back breaking place by a lazy and criminal man. I wonder if Freddie (aka"Sicko") ever saw the light and repented for real. I can only hope so. Which is more than he ever gave your dad.

  4. A point of clarification. The previous comment is mixing up two different people. "Freddie" was my brother, and he was a troubled soul. You can read a story about him at:

    "Sicko," who was my sister's not-so-nice husband, didn't come into the picture for another decade after my father's journal ends. There isn't even a glimpse of him in this story.