The-Less-Than-Perfect Week

Throughout the Journals and the Monthly Reports, we represent ourselves as true stoics. It’s a factual account that does not always reflect (except occasionally in the margins of the Journals) what we truly experienced physically in terms of hunger, thirst, extreme cold, extreme heat, utter exhaustion, and real frustration. But we did have our moments. We sometimes disagreed; we argued – euphemistically referred to in the Journals as “We had words”.

And there were some difficult site visits where we worked in appalling conditions. Sue was highly allergic to dust, mold and mildew and on more than one occasion was forced to run quickly out of a building, gasping for air, itching, and scratching. This was one reason Beck often dealt with the printed volumes while Sue’s eyes glazed over after hours of reading microfilm. Also, Sue’s eyesight was a lot better than Beck’s!

Beck, being more slightly built, often worked in the crawl spaces, attics and ladders while Sue, a superb documentarian, recorded details called out to her.

A Pic Other Mar 20 1986 Sayre Times Office
Beck crawling under the shelving to reach the volumes of Sayre Times March 20, 1986.

Then there were the site visit schedules! Ok, so what if we were going to visit 7 places in four towns in one day. Beck hated to waste a moment or to backtrack while traveling, so despite nearly-impossible schedules, Sue rarely complained. We both worked under steady pressure while doing field work. Guesstimating the amount of time needed at any one site was ‘hit or miss’ – definitely not a science.

B Pic 1986 Mifflin Co Sentinel Office Lewistown HAND HELD VIEWER Jan 16 1986
Sue using a hand-held viewer to inventory the titles held on microfilm at the Lewistown Sentinel Office January 16, 1986.

And food! Beck had this awful habit of needing to eat fairly regularly while Sue could easily work eight hours, non-stop, with no food or drink. These situations could produce occasional arguments, especially when time (and sustenance) was critical.

Such incidents are minimized in the daily accounts.

And then, there were the funny moments – many of them. Humor was often what got us through the day.

[I wrote the following account during our 4-week extended stay in Monroe and Northampton Counties – an accumulation of events from which Sue did, eventually, recover]

Journal Entry (Addendum to Sue’s Entry), Tuesday, August 18, 1987

One afternoon, or perhaps an evening – hard to recall which right now – during the week of August 9th, Sue and I decided to do a little shopping by way of a diversion and for some relaxation. We’d been working pretty steadily for a couple weeks and needed a small break.

Besides, we had to get supplies. For one thing, we needed band aids. Sue finally found a place to have the stitches removed on her leg [not from any work-related injury!] and I gave her my last band aid. That would have been okay but the next day she busted her sandals and had to wear her huaraches. They gave her terrible blisters.

A necessary supply item for fieldwork!

We went to the store and spent a fun hour or two trying to decide on whether to get Curads or the no-name brand. We decided to save $1.10 and go with the no-name. We also put one on Sue’s finger where she got a third-degree burn while frying zucchini a few days ago. Every time a scab formed, she knocked it off and it started bleeding all over again.

At the Canal Museum I accidentally dropped a metal bookshelf on her toe and severed it a little. By this time we were carrying band aids around so we could deal with these kinds of emergencies.

The next day we went shopping for tan-colored thread to sew Sue’s shorts that got rippled while we were at the Court House.

The next day we shopped for spot remover to remove the ink from Sue’s Mom’s pink shorts – she sat on an ink-smeared chair at the Northampton Public Library. After much discussion, we got liquid Clorox 2 and it worked!

Things went along smoothly for a day or two when Sue’s calluses decided to return. We don’t know yet how to treat those because she didn’t bring her tools along to gouge them out. But they aren’t troubling her as much as the two little bumps growing on her palm – not sure what they are…

D Pic Carbon Co We ate fast 1

Journal entry from Wednesday, July 1, 1987 – Carbon County:  Example of the Project Team working together at the Lehighton Times-News Office.

2:30 – 5:20 worked in hallway.  Beck pulled the volumes out of the closet & called out the dates in each volume.  I recorded the dates on the varies LDRs. 

The volumes were so bad – crumpling at the touch.



Skip to toolbar