In the autumn of 1991, on a school-sponsored trip to Stratford, Ontario, for the Shakespeare Festival, I wandered into a used bookstore with some friends and made an unexpected find: a completely blank datebook from 1954. It had a handsome grey cover with the year and the name Alex F. Hahn printed on it, along with the logo and name of the Toronto-based McLeod, Young, Weir & Company Limited. A date, including the day of the week, was printed in dark blue text at the top of each thin page, which were otherwise a light beige color -- not yellowed so much as tanned. It measured 4"x6¾"x1" -- a quite comfortable size, just small enough to squeeze into a back pocket if necessary.
Throughout high school, I kept a series of sketchbook-slash-public journals that were somewhat arbitrarily named Jehovah by my friends Jill and Charlotte (more about those later). The idea of using this odd little book as a Jehovah intrigued me, so I bought it. (Wish I could remember for how much.) Then I noticed that the name on cover -- Alex F. Hahn -- had the same initials as me (my middle name is Francis.) Spooky! It made it feel like I was meant to find the book and use it. That weekend, I got to wondering whether the dates would line up with a year in the near future -- after all, the first of the year must fall on a Friday every seven years or so, right? It turned out that 1993 was one of those years. What a coincidence! So I decided to start using the book on Friday, January 1, 1993 and every day that year. Inside the cover I wrote:
It's not quite a journal, but it's not quite a Jehovah project, either. There is only one page aloted [sic] to each day. Actually, to be a little more specific, one may only write on pages of day gone by; the pages before and including today's date. Hopefully, I won't be the only one to write in here. Enjoy your visit to 1954! ☺
Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who wrote in it. all sorts of interesting stuff was recorded in 1954 -- by me, by my friends, by complete strangers. And with very few exceptions, the rule against writing in the future held fast. (One of those exceptions was granting permission to record one's or someone else's birthday on that date. That came in handy.) 1954 became a record of one of the most important years of my life: much of my senior year at Barrington High School, the summer before college, and those difficult first few months at The Ohio State University. And it's a record of so many people, places and experiences both for me and for so many others. I realized a few years back that I wanted to put it on the web in some fashion, but I wasn't sure how. After developing and scrapping I don't know how many overly complex concepts, I finally decided to just scan the damn thing and post it on a blog. And then I realized: in 2010, January 1 would once again be on a Friday. There was a certain elegance to posting 1954 day by day, just as it had been written.
And so here we are.
For convenience, I'm scanning the book in two-page spreads. As often as possible, I'm going to write my recollections and reflections on what's happening on the page -- and sometimes on what's not. Feel free to comment, particularly if you happened to have been there. The images will also be posted in my flickr account, where they may be thoroughly explicated and will no doubt rack up plenty of comments as well; I'll include a link in each post. If you would prefer to email me privately, my address is -- I look forward to hearing from you.