1925: Finding Happiness

Cora Fleming, guest writer

Father please don’t go, don’t leave me with this monster!” I sob as I fall to my father’s knees, begging him to not leave. Although Sir Anderson Harrington would only be away for the summer, I can’t fathom the idea of being alone with mother for longer than the unspoken hour of tea-time in which we participate daily.

            Living in our summer home, a mansion on  Long Island, New York, was one of my most treasured times of the year. Decorated in simplistic class with big windows and sleek furniture the home consists of abundant space. Each year I pick a different bedroom of the house to spend the three months of summer in, preferably the room with the biggest closet. That’s my favorite part of coming to Habersham.

            Although I love this place, I’m forced to have a tight curriculum during the day filled with ballet classes in the morning, a piano lesson before lunch, then a private tutor session, but the leisure of the afternoon was my favorite time of day.

            This afternoon on June 26, 1925, I carry my set of watercolor paints that father bought me when he was in France last spring, out to the secluded dock where I spend my afternoon painting.

            “Celia, the Hawthorne ladies are here for tea,” Mother screams while she struggles to keep her dignity in front of the prominent women of  New York. I ignore her. And then of course, the beckoning screech of her pitiful voice sounds again, “Celia! The ladies are here for tea. Come inside now, Darling.”

            I was across the garden, Mother ruins my afternoon painting session per usual. Grudgingly, I trudge across the perfectly manicured lawn with my platinum ringlets shimmering and bouncing in the afternoon sun. I have such animosity towards Mother for making me spend an hour of valuable daylight in the parlor sipping from China tea-cups that are over priced and eating finger sandwiches, kinds of which I detest. What I hate most about this unbearable hour is gossiping about the neighbors and fancy townsfolk who of which my Mother would smile and exchange fake conversations at galas and parties.

            To say I hated the upperclass way of life is such an understatement. The constant presence of maids and house help fuels my desire to runaway to another city to do the things I love. Oh, how I would die for an apartment in Chicago near Sears Robuck’s first store! The store had opened in the spring and once I heard about it I decided I just have to go see it.

            “Have you ladies read Fitzgerald’s new book, I believe it’s called The Great Gatsby,” said a lady from Manhattan, who mother says has “new money”. But I believe most people in New York are new money. It’s a prospering place where dreams come true and million dollar companies are on the rise. With all of this prosperity here, it pains me that Father couldn’t stay here and find work. Instead he’s traveling to Nashville, Tennessee to work on the Grand Ole Opry. It is a radio broadcasting station and it will begin in November. To my knowledge Mother will have numerous affairs on Father while he’s gone, as she always does. Father remains faithful though, as he always does.

            Father owns many companies but having a share in the Grand Ole Opry  is his biggest accomplishment yet. He’s a smart man who has great faith in God and gives Him pure credit for all of his accomplishments. I long to follow in his footprints, rather than morphing into an ungrateful snob who only worries about selfish desires.



            On August 16, 1925, the day is exceedingly hot. I’m sitting on the back veranda trying to cool off while watching the servants, it’s a pastime that consumes most of my lazy moments. I can’t quite fathom obtaining their jobs but at the same time I almost long to switch places with them.

            “Sweet tea miss?” Oscar said sarcastically. He’s our butler or maybe more of a friend. Mother hates when I socialize with the staff but if they’re gonna be present most of the time I’d rather make conversation. He’s my closest friend which may seem pitiable, but we understand each other on an intellectual level.

            Oscar, 56 years of age, enlightens me on almost everything. Many days he’ll sit and keep me company while I paint. I tell him about my dreams and plans of one day running away to Chicago. He tells me there’s no reason to go that far, but if I did I’d need to seek him first for help. In the same way, Oscar ran away from Georgia when he was 15 and managed to work in the city since. He’s like another father to me, I talk to him whenever I get a chance.


“At the age of 17 child, you shall not disrespect me the way you do!” Mother shouts one Sunday morning. In my defense I wasn’t disrespectful, I had just simply stated my opinion upon wether Mother’s emerald flapper dress matched her ruby shoes, rather a silly matter. “She’s a short fuse,” Father always says.

            As I sit at my vanity, I look my self in the eyes. I remember a quote by Thomas Paine that Father always says, “ The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” I’ve decided tonight would be the night I run away. My plan of operation is to sneak out of the event, catch a cab, and head for the train station. And that is exactly what I will do.

            Posed in my silver flapper attire, the photo was snapped of my Mother and I. Little did Mother know, it would be our last photograph together. We were invited to attend a cocktail party in Upper Manhattan with the editors and creators of the magazine called the New Yorker Magazine. It had been published in late February but the parties of celebration had not come to a halt yet.


             Standing on West 28th street, my face is kissed by the breeze of the humid summer air. The night is bustling but I all I hear is silence, except the pounding of my own heart. I stand in the center of the cross walk with commotion all around. I can’t help but feel a rush of emotions. Will I ever see my Father again? Am I making the wrong decision? Should I have left a note? But a sense of calmness rushes over me. I’m ready for this, I’ve prepared for this my whole life.

            A tear came rolling down my face, for I knew it would be the last time we embraced. Oscar and exchanged our farewells outside of the train station. He had brought my luggage and helped me find my way. As the coach driver hollered, I left and never looked back. 


            Today is December 12, 1925, I sit on my sofa in my tiny loft that I share with the three other women who I work with. Sears is treating us well, I’ve scored a job as a designer intern for the company. I guess all of my numerous hours of painting silly dresses were not a waste of time after all. My dream has come true.

             My creativity is so easily assessable her in Chicago. The snow is falling outside my window and on days like these it reminds me of home. The apartment is tiny but I don’t mind because I’ve realized that expensive things don’t make me happy. I think of my favorite quote by Epicurus, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

             As I walk the streets of Chicago, I realize that I no longer resent Mother, for I know now that she had been intoxicated with the upper class lifestyle. And from what I’ve heard I may have had a sip of the poison as well. But I love it here and I’ve never been happier.

December 25,1925

            Dear Father,

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope you’re doing well and that your work has been prospering. Please do not worry about me or where I may be, I’m safe and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. God has blessed me in abundance and I’m so joyful. I love you Father. Your in my prayers as always.


                                                                                   From your loving daughter,

Celia Harrington



Works Cited

Achenbach, Joel. “Why ‘The Great Gatsby’ is the Great American Novel.” The Washington Post,             WP Company, 20 Mar. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com. Web. 7 Feb. 2018.

Denby, David. “All That Jazz.” The New Yorker, 19 June 2017,

            www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/05/13/all-that-jazz-3. Web. 7 Feb. 2018.

Pearson, Stephen. “The Year 1925.” The People History. n.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

“Sears Archives, History.” Sears Archives Home Page, 21 Mar. 2012, of 

            searsachives.com. Web. 7 Feb. 2018.

Thomas, Pauline. “Flapper Fashion 1920sC20th Fashion History.” 1920s Flapper Fashion                     History. C20th Costume History for Women in the 1920s, www.fashion-era.com. n.d.                  Web. 7 Feb. 2018.

Yapp, Nicholas. Decades of the 20th century: 1920s. Konemann, 1998. Print.

“24 Best Bible Verses About Humility and Encouraging Scriptures.” Bible Study Tools,                               www.biblestudytools.com. n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2018.