116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
An interesting artifact was unearthed and donated to The History Center recently — a diary from 1923 that features 365 entries. It was kept by a 22-year old man.
Ocie Allen Small worked at a bank. The 1920 graduate of Cedar Rapids Washington High School was very much like many 22-year old men today — he was crazy about popular entertainment, sports and playing the field.
Here’s a sampling of excerpts from Ocie’s diary:
“Well, little diary, this is the day I bought you. I paid $. 75 for you and if I fill in every day in the year … when next year comes around, it will be great fun to look over last year’s happenings.
“Expenses for the day: Meals $. 55, Book $. 75.”
Ocie dutifully backlogged entries for the first three days of the diary, mentioning a dinner with his gramma and winning a league basketball game, 17-10.
“We were off $150 at the bank and I had to work until 8 p.m., but we did not find it. Played pool.
“Went to the dance at the Aud. I had a fairly good time. I came home on the last car.”
It’s unclear which bank Small worked for in 1923, but we did find a 1931 Gazette article that mentioned his involvement in the Cedar Rapids National Bank bowling team.
“Went to the Majestic (Theatre). Iowa beat Michigan in a very close [basketball] game, the score being 18-17. Iowa center, Burgett, made a basket from the center of the floor scoring the winning point.”
Ocie often recorded sports scores in his daily entries, sometimes mentioning his own attendance or going to Coe College to read scores that were posted publicly.
“I bought a pair of corduroy pants with bell bottoms, but I do not like them very well.”
“I took my pants back and exchanged them for a couple of shirts. I bought a suit of clothes at Armstrong’s. I paid $23 for it, and it seems good material for that price.”
“I received a Valentine.”
Ocie was reserved and rarely went into much romantic detail in his diary. He was not shy, however, about his multiple dates with different women, often in the same week.
“Played basketball against Sinclair, and we were beat 13 to 11. We played very poorly and deserved to get beat. We closed the deal trading ours (house) and $4,240 for a house on 1820 Beaver Ave.”
Ocie lived with his parents, Fred and Blanche. Before buying the house on Bever Avenue SE, they lived at 1337 Ellis Blvd. NW.
“Went to the Palace and saw ‘Bell Boy 13.’ It started to snow really hard at about 5 o’clock.”
Ocie went to silent films and stage shows with friends and dates several times a week.
“Many of the trains were tied up due to the snow. I called Dorothy Smith, and she gave me a date for tomorrow night.”
“I had the car put in a garage for a general tightening up so It could stand the trip. I took it to Red Ball Garage. The bill was $4.60.”
“Went to show at the Majestic and saw the Georgia Minstrels. It was a good show, but due to the small audience, they did not show much life.”
“I have a date with Mildred. We went down to the library and got a couple of books of plays.”
“Raymond, Grandpa and I went down and listened to the fight. (Jack) Dempsey beat (Tommy) Gibbons in 15 rounds. It was a great fight, and Gibbons sure showed his stuff by maintaining that he has never been knocked out. After supper, we just drove around watching the fireworks.”
“Ova has her hair bobbed.”
“Iowa (football) lost to Illinois. They excelled in the art of the forward passes. In the last few minutes of play, they started a drive from their own 19-yard line. They completed 3 passes that took the ball to the Iowa 3- yard line where they scored.”
“I went to a dance at Dreamland. I saw Glyn. We sure had a swell waltz.”
“I went over and saw Mildred. She told me she had a date for Friday. I told her I could get a date. So I did.”
“I had a date with Glyn. We went to the Isis and saw Rin Tin Tin in ‘Where the North Begins.’ He sure is a very smart dog.”
“They gave me a $40 Xmas gift at the bank.”
Small never married and died of a sudden illness in 1968 at the age of 67. He was a member of the Peoples Unitarian Church.
Joe Coffey, a freelance writer and content marketer in Cedar Rapids, writes this monthly column for The History Center. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org