Hello, my name is Sheryl Lazarus. One quarter of my genes come from the woman who wrote this diary. I’m seeking to learn from the past and gain insights that will lead to a better future. I’m posting the entries because friends and relatives might also be interested in the diary.
As I read the diary I find that many of the entries spark questions and that I search for answers. If I find answers—or even if I’m am just reflecting on an entry—I’ll share them with you.
Why I Decided to Post the Diary
In 2009, I compiled a family cookbook. Some of the recipes had originally been recipes of my mother and grandmothers. I included some family photos in the book. One of them was a photo of me walking through a doorway at my bridal shower. Sitting on the couch in the photo’s foreground was my 82-year-old paternal grandmother.
When I gave the cookbook to my children, my daughter asked who the old lady was. I told her that it was her great-grandmother. But her question jogged my memory about a copy of an old diary I had —
After Grandma Swartz died in 1980, her children went through her belongings. One of the items they found was a diary that Grandma had kept from January 1911 through December 1914.
Her children circulated that diary amongst family members. While I had it, I made a copy before passing it on. The copy laid in a paper bag in the bottom of my hutch for more than 20 years until I pulled it out in January 2010 and started reading.
My memories of Grandma Helen were of a feeble, elderly woman—Helena (the name she used in the diary) was a fun-loving, self-absorbed teen. Helena wasn’t an Anne Frank—and most days she only wrote three or four lines. Some days she wrote that “nothing of importance” had occurred. Yet as I tried to decipher the handwriting a fascinating young woman emerged, and I wanted to learn more about her and how she evolved into the grandmother I remember.
Preparing Grandma’s diary entries has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with relatives, neighbors, and friends. I would like to thank the many people who have shared information with me about my grandmother. I’d especially like to thank my father for all of the wonderful stories, and my aunt and uncle for the photos of Grandma as a young woman.