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

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!

Lovin’…Laughin’…Livin’ Doris Style

Occasionally a book comes along that just flat out tickles my fancy and keeps me turning pages in anticipation and delight. This is the kind of book I don’t want to put down. I want to savor certain snippets so much that I find myself turning again to particular quotes  and scenes. I find myself torn between galloping through to the end or savoring each page. A book like this is an experience, one that leaves the reader wanting more. Such is the case for me with I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen.

Doris Louise Bailey began keeping a diary in 1925, at the tender age of 15. Chronicling her adventures became a practice she would continue throughout her long life. After her death in 2011 at the age of 101, her great-niece, author and editor Julia Park Tracey, found herself in possession of a real treasure–a box of her journals, beginning with the very first teenage diary. Thankfully, Julia began the process of lovingly and carefully editing this gift in order to share Doris with a wider audience.

Typical of any teen, the pages are filled with tales of young love, exquisite crushes and fickle passions, vivid detail and bored pronouncements, all interwoven with the occasional poignant insight into the mysteries adolescence. Doris offers keen insight into the life of one very real roaring twenties teenage girl, making the book both good reading and solid history. The fads, culture, and events of the day are chronicled and filtered through the adolescent window of a girl who would become a most remarkable and strong woman.

I grew up in the South, so reading about a teen whose parents hailed from Alabama and Georgia but settled in Portland, Oregon to rear a family, was a real treat. It was delightful to watch her become bold enough to swear yet still mollified enough to cross out and soften her salty slips of tongue and pen. The book also contains a treasure trove of period photography, the majority of which were snapped by Doris’ older brother Rae with a circa 1918 Kodak box camera.

I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do gets a five star rating from me, as does editor Julia Park Tracey. It can be quite a challenge to edit someone’s private writings, especially a young voice from another era. I think you’ll be impressed by Park Tracey’s work and by her useful explanations, appendices, and forthright presentation.

Who should read this book? Anyone who enjoys a good character study will find Doris compelling. Teachers of history and women’s studies will appreciate how The Doris Diaries augment other selections and texts. Reading groups will have a hotsy-totsy (see page 198) time and some keen opportunities for themed gatherings while thumbing through the pages. Finally, anyone interested in journaling will appreciate Doris’ wit, honesty, and insight. Books make good gifts, so consider purchasing a copy for the young (and young-at-heart) readers on your holiday and birthday lists.

Win Your Own Copy of I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Doris Bailey Murphy in word and image. To give you an opportunity to do so, too, Julia Park Tracey has generously donated a copy of the book for me to give to a reader. Check out some of the excepts from The Doris Diaries Facebook page and/or Twitter feed and then leave a comment by midnight PST Thursday night, November 15. I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments left. (Note: I was not paid to read, review, or endorse this book. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Coming Up Later this Week!

Look for a guest blog post by none other than Julia Park Tracy. I’ve known Julia through The Compact for several years now and appreciate her own blend of wit, wisdom, and wonderment. She’s an excellent writer, and I think you’ll enjoy what she has to say.

Time to get back to living this good day. Or, as Doris would say: “Love is life; life is love!”

Photos courtesy Julia Park Tracey. Thanks!



Seven Shades of Gratitude

The week is ending with a quiet, crisp sunset and a chill in the air. Tomorrow a new week will begin, a week filled with promise and possibility. I leave you this evening with seven shades of gratitude for this past week of thanks-living.

1.  I am grateful for our house. We don’t own our home; we live in a parsonage provided by my spouse’s congregation. It’s part of his compensation package, and we both feel grateful to live in this commodious turn of the 20th century brick home. It is more than ample for our needs, full of character, and set amidst a lovely landscape of Pennsylvania orchards dotting the rolling hills.

2.  I am grateful for heat. My writing desk sits next to the radiator, and I find its gurgling and occasional clanging to be a comforting sound and a reminder of the gift of heat. Heat is something I all too often take for granted until the power goes out and we find ourselves suddenly without it.

3.  I am grateful for hot green ginger honey tea. A pot is sitting beside me now. It warms and soothes my throat, helping to reduce the residual soreness from this week’s surgery. A cup of hot tea or coffee cupped between one’s hands is a simple pleasure not to be taken for granted.

4.  I am grateful for Skype. Skype allows me to converse with my daughter at college and my mother in Tennessee. It allows me to be a good steward of resources and and attend meetings at the congregation I serve without leaving home and burning fossil fuel. Skype dates were one of the ways my spouse and I kept connected when we were dating and lived so far apart. Yes, I am thankful for the gifts of technology.

5.  Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I am thankful for freedom. I am grateful to live in a country that guarantees me certain rights freedoms and also holds me accountable for the responsibilities of citizenship. I am grateful for the many men and women who have served in our country, including my father who served in World War II. Thank you all!

6.  I am grateful for music. I enjoy a variety of musical styles and genres ranging from jazz to folk to bluegrass to classical and a whole bunch more in between. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to, sing, or play some kind of music.

7.  I am grateful for books to read. Since I’ve been home this week I’ve been turning the pages of several books–a biography, a diary, poetry, and fiction. While I appreciate the NOOK my daughter gave me, I also love to turn the pages of library books and wonder about their journeys. Right now, for example, I’m reading Jon Krakauer’s fine book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. A previous borrower must have had this book at the beach because grains of sand are caught between the cover and its cellophane protector. I wonder which beach?

So many things for which to be grateful and so many shades of gratitude to share and experience are available to each one of us every day. What shades of gratitude have colored your day and week?

Nota Bene: Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing one of the books I read this week, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen. Drop in; I think you’ll enjoy hearing about it so much that you’ll want your own copy to read! If you just can’t wait, you can check it out on Facebook. Click here.

Photos by k4dordy and RichardBH. Thanks!