Tuesday, October 5

Popeye's Diary

At 20 years of age, my great grandfather left San Francisco Bay for the Philippines during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Remarkably, the diary he kept during this time remains in the family and is still in pretty good shape. I've scanned the pages of his journal and posted them here. Regardless of one's feelings about this particular war or the words my great grandfather chose to use, this document reflects his daily experiences during a controversial war.

I am working on an art project based on these pages.


  1. Oh, wow, Leslie, this is a great project. I don't have anything like this. I wish I still had my mom's diary. I'm going to take some time look at the pages you posted.

    Great photo.

  2. What a gift Leslie. I am off to see where you placed them and more of your project.


  3. Dear Stiffie:

    It was very exciting to watch you unfold pages that hadn't been read in over a hundred years... And to have you read them aloud to me... Beginning with the page: "This is my personal diary. If you have found it, don't read it."

    I hope this doesn't bring down a curse or something on us.

    All of my ancestors have names like "John, Bill," or "Andy." Your forebearers are all named "Popeye, Wade, Pecos, and Benny The Glip." It's just amazing.

    The writer in the front room (next to your office) who just got yelled out for saying good night to you, and then stayed to type this comment.

  4. Dear Writer in the Front Room: You stay up as late as you'd like. I only comment when you say how tired you are and announce that you're going to bed . . . and then sit at your computer for another three hours.

    I'm just saying.

  5. Dear Stiffie:

    You are always, "Just saying."

    The writer (etc.)

  6. I was just reading the scanned pages.....wonderful. His life on a page - the big events and the small, like "ate too much." Thanks for posting these precious pages.

  7. Hello Leslie,
    What a powerful inspiration for your next work of art. I read the scanned pages, even though Wilbert asked me not to. The written word conveys so much and you can hold onto moments of time and learn from them. I wonder what will happen now? Not enough of a paper trail is being left anymore.
    Will look forward to seeing what you discover and how you interpret your great grandfathers words.

    Hugs Leslie!


  8. What a great gift it is for you to have this diary.
    I am not sure which I am more fascinated with the diary or the conversation between you and Jack ;]

  9. oh

    how lovely is this!

    i am so inspired
    to follow your lead
    and scan the diary
    of my own grandfather
    who fought in the Black Forest
    in WWI...

    wasn't the handwriting Amazing
    and art into itself?

    dearest leslie,
    i so enjoy visiting your world..
    the newness
    of babies loved,
    the oldness
    of past*times appreciated.

    thank you
    for a time*travel of a morning.

  10. PS--i love reading the comments
    between you
    your writer in the front room...


    they make me smile with happiness
    for you both

    i am a bit of a voyeur,
    i guess.

  11. Just amazing Leslie, that you have on hands a diary of your great grandfather reporting the Spanish-American War in 1898!
    What a great art projet!

  12. What an amazing gift and a source for inspiration. Love the handwriting.
    Can't wait to see what you do with it Leslie. Knowing you, it will be spectacular.

    xo K

  13. Hi Leslie,
    I'm sending a friend of mine, Debra the link to your post above.
    Happy Week to come!
    I just noticed the little girl on the moped has 3 band-aids! ;-)


  14. What a treasure! I'm looking forward to seeing your art project.

  15. hi!This was a really exceptional theme!
    I come from roma, I was fortunate to search your website in google
    Also I get much in your subject really thanks very much i will come daily

  16. dear Leslie, I thought I had left a comment here before, and was going to leave a second one, but alas, my first disappeared!
    So...I want to tell you that these pages are beautiful in their age, so personal the story they tell, so poignant for you to know your Popeye.
    I love the first line you read to the writer in the other room, and that your relatives have such an amazing names.
    I am so excited to see what project unfolds, and curious to know if you use the originals, or photocopies in it.
    I am thrilled you received a copy of my and Seths book! I am even more happy that you love it!
    I hope you have an amazing weekend, and that your hands get filled with paint and glue and that you have scraps of paper and metal all over your studio floor! roxanne

  17. This is quite amazing and incredible that it is so intact. I look forward to seeing what you create from it.