The Diary of Maude (Sarah) Dwyer Mass During the Spanish Flu Pandemic 1918-1920. January 1 -9.

The Diary of Maude (Sarah) Dwyer Mass During the Spanish Flu Pandemic     1918-1920

January 1 -9

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This diary is written my Maude (Sarah) Dwyer Mass. Maude is Helen Nugent’s mother. She was known as Sarah. She was a twenty-four-year-old single lady when she wrote this diary. She kept this “line a day”, diary for three years. It is called a comparison record. She was faithful to make an entry each day for 2 ½ years. It is particularly interesting because this is the time that the Spanish Flu Pandemic was spread around the world. The pandemic lasted from 1918 to 1922. It killed about 650,000 Americans. This diary gives a glimpse of young lady’s life during the pandemic in the Los Angeles area.  She stopped the diary in April 1920 and got married 8-23-20. I suppose she had marriage preparation on her mind and let the diary entries stop. They got married in the middle of the pandemic.

Sarah was born 9-21-1894 in Marysville California. Her father, William Dwyer married Nora Lee Dwyer. They were both from Ireland. They settled in Arizona with four children. They moved to Marysville and had twelve kids, but eight survived. One child was bit by a rattle snake in Arizona and died.

Sarah at two or three years old.

Sarah as a young girl

Sarah is the young girl in the carriage

Sarah family. She is on the chair.

      Sarah married Albert 8-23-1919 in Los Angeles. She was a housewife. She was a member of the Catholic Daughters. T.O.P.S., Altar Society, and various other church activities. She died in 1974 of Emphysema and an irregular heartbeat. Lola M., born in 2005, was named after her late great-grandmother, Sarah Maude Mass.

Albert (Al) Mass in his army uniform.

     Albert was born 4/1/1894 in Cincinnati Ohio. He met Sarah for the first time at a USO dance, a dance meant to entertain the soldiers and they married in Los Angeles 8-23-1919. According to Helen (Mass) Nugent, they did not initially get married in the traditional way. They went to the priest’s home at night and threw some stones at his window, waking him up to marry them.

Their 50th anniversary was spent in Montebello California. That is where they lived. Albert was known as Uncle Al. He had started smoking at 6 years old and he succumbed to lung cancer. He worked as a porcelain enameller. Later on, he became a maintenance electrician through reading books.  He worked at O’Keefe and Merrit Co. He was known for being able to fix things.  Albert’s dad was Albert “Gus” Mass, from Germany. He Lived in Cincinnati Ohio and had a trucking business. His mother was Anna Speakerman (? Spiekerman) She was born on Cincinnati Ohio. She died in 1940 in an accident with a mail truck. Albert died 11-1974. He is interned at Resurrection Cemetery in Monterrey Park California.

mass and nugent families 1963

Al, Sarah, Edwin, Helen and Ken Nugent with Michelle and Chris Nugent.



January 1:

1918: Went to communion this morning. Read most of the day. Had dinner at Mane’s, Bill being with us. Played cards tonight.

1919: Chief cook all day. Did all the work including getting dinner. Joe and Al both doing nicely.

1920: Al (official name was Joseph. He was called Al.) and I went to an art museum this morning. Went for a long bike ride with Marie and William.

Edwin Dwyer

Edwin Dwyer…Sarah’s brother

Edwin married Margaret and they owned a dry-cleaning business on Ellis Street in San Francisco. They had no children. Uncle Edwin lived in San Francisco.  He was my mom’s brother. Thus the Dwyer. My dining room furniture is from his house in SF.  He also paid for the twin bed set that you girls had growing up. He ran a dry cleaner business in the Tinderloin district.  They lived out in the Avenues. Uncle Edwin lived in San Francisco.  He was Sarah Maude (Dwyer) Mass’ brother. Helen Nugent’s (Julie’s mom) dining room furniture is from his house in San Francisco, California. He was a generous man, paying for the twin bed set that Julie Nugent (jesmer) and her sisters grew up with.

January 2:

1918: Went shopping with Marie and Joe. Changed my quarter for a  _____________. Went to a movie tonight. Had a long letter from Edwin. (Edwin was her brother).

1919: Worked hard all day. Went shopping with Mabee (?) at noon. Bought a new waist. God dinner tonight.

1920: Not feeling very well. Went to see Dr Cavanaugh who prescribed laxatives (?) for me.

January 3:

1918: Cleaned houses most of the day.  Went up to the office. Went out to Merlin’s to dinner. Edna and Francis came home with me and stayed all night.

1919: Worked hard all day. Bought a liberty bond at noon. Traded my blue had for Mabee’s black one.

A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the Allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time.”

1920: Raining…so came home early. Made a cake and cooked a roast but ______  ______ latter.   Stayed home all evening.

January 4:

1918: Went to town with Edna. Got pajama to embroider. Worked on it most of the day. Played cards tonight. Tine (Valentine. This is Sarah’s sister) called up.

1919: Mabee came out home with me. Went to a dance at Rutherford’s with Al and Jack and Ethel, but had a busy time.

1920: Went to the late Mass at the Plaza. Had lunch up town and went to the Aaphleune (?) this afternoon. Delightful day.

January 5:

1918: Went to see Marg and Clark in the _____  ______ with Joe, Mace and Al.

1919: Rather tired all day. Went to the California with Al. Al called up tonight.

1920: Just a little blue tonight. My sweetheart lost his job today. But we feel God will give him another.

January 6:

1918: Read and embroidered all day. Called Edna up.  _____ to Edwin. Played cards tonight at Mane’s.

1919: Rather hard day at the office. Had a letter for Edwin say he is not well. Had a nice chat with Ethel tonight.

1920: Feeling better. Al got another job and starts to work in the morning.

January 7:

1918: Embroidered all day. Ethyl and Miss Clayton called up! Went to see “The Planter” with Joe and Al this evening.

The Planter is a lost 1917 American silent drama film directed by Thomas N. Heffron and John Ince. It was produced by F. N. Manson and Harry Drum and distributed through Mutual” –

1919: Went to see “The Greatest Thing In Life” with Al. Had a real nice evening. Joe was with us today and feeling good.

The Greatest Thing in Life is a 1918 American silent drama film about World War I, directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, and David Butler. The film is now considered lost as no prints are known to exist” –

1920: Al got along nicely today and thinks he will make good. Been working pretty hard myself.

January 8:

1918: Tine (Sarah’s sister) came out with the baby who is real nice. Met Edna, Francis and Ethel and had waffles and went to the cinema. Met Frank Hoorgast.

1919: Had lunch with Ethel at the Bdwy (Broadway?) Tea Room. Joe up today. Worked pretty hard so I am all in tonight.

1920: Still working hard but feeling fine – taking treatments twice a day from Dr Cavanaugh.

January 9:

1918:  Heard from Alice the she and Frank were married. Washed and worked all day. Played 5:00 tonight and embroidered.

1919: Met Tine this afternoon and helped her buy some shoes and a dress. Got my work caught up at the office.

1920: Met Ethel at noon. Cooked a nice dinner. Read all evening.



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