A Rancher’s Daughter’s Fourth of July

Edith Kent Conway was born into Little River’s pioneering Kent family on August 5, 1901. She kept a diary, which is part of the Kelley House Museum collection, from January to October of 1938. In reading her brief diary entries, one gets the sense that her life was occupied almost entirely by work. She must have been an amazing cook, turning out cakes and pies, roasting meat and making stews on a near daily basis. The men worked hard, too, and must have required all those meals to keep going.

Here is what we know about Independence Day and Edith’s “holiday” weekend 80 years ago:

Friday, July 1

Friday Bud drove tractor and Billie & Ray went to visit all the Aunts. They had lunch with marguerite. When the[y] came back the[y] left here for the homeward trip. They will stop at Mendocino City to see Mrs. Mendosa.”

Saturday, July 2

Bud and Dad [Nathaniel Kent] went down to Petaluma for Box Shuck, & pipe. They came back early in the evening, Bonnie, Cleone & I worked down in the lower garden until most one o’clock and then came up to the house to rest.

Sunday, July 3

Uncle Oliver, Dad & Bud all three went out this morning I got up and got them breakfast at 4 o’clock and they were back again by 9:30 with a pi[ece?] of meat and then they had some watermelon. I made a berry pie, hot rolls and had a nice lunch. Aunt Elsie wasn’t at home at noon so we went up again and spent the evening had a real nice time. They had company. Uncle Oliver went up to Martin’s as he was sick took the liver up there to them.

Monday, July 4

We weren’t planning on anything extra this morning as Dad & Bud went up to Dighman’s Mill, Bud came back alone and said we were invited up to a picnic so the girls & I hurried and got ready. We took salad, cake, sandwiches and a watermelon. There was a large crowd and Oh! the eats just everything. Clare was there with his wife. The meat was good. We had our supper there to[o]. Oliver came down just as we got home.

Imagine the taste of those watermelons, grown on the Little River ranch! Most likely Edith was using a wood burning stove to accomplish all her baking. The diary is filled with the work involved in drying apples as the fall of 1938 arrived. But at least Edith certainly enjoyed the impromptu July Fourth picnic and the pleasure of the company of neighbors.

We hope you’ll join your neighbors at the Kelley House BBQ & Lawn Party next week on the Fourth of July, for parade viewing and good eating. The party begins at 11:00 a.m. and there is no charge for admission.