Homer Beattie – Post # 2 – Nickname?

Class of 1907: Homer Beattie Post # 1

homer-beattie-commencement-photoIn the post on September 18 celebrating the birthday of Homer Beattie, I mentioned that he might be a “Rastus” Beattie who is mentioned in my grandmother’s 1908 diary. A pejorative term today, it was not considered so in that day and age.

But is Rastus Beattie really Homer? Below are the diary entries that mention him. Let’s see how they might match with what the record says about Homer Beattie.

 Sunday, June 7 – . . . Oh! I forgot to say that Rastus Beattie is home. I was talking to him yesterday. I’m glad he’s home, he looks all done up, although he says he’s all right.

 Wednesday, June 10, . . . After dinner, Ed and I went over home to play tennis, but Billy had gotten ornery, and said they couldn’t use his net any more, so we couldn’t play. I had a date with Rastus Beattie to play tennis too, and he called up to see about it, but as we couldn’t very well play without a net, we called it off, and Ed & I went down town. . . .

 Rastus is home, but from where? I would think it was from college. Homer did go to college; at least later on. In 1913, he was a senior at the University of Michigan and a member of the Forestry Club (his career was in Forestry). [1] But if he was a senior, this does not equate with him being in school in 1908, but in the 1909 Norwalk City Directory, Homer Beattie is listed, with occupation student. So it is possible that he started college in 1907, straight out of high school, which would put him home for summer vacation in June of that year.

Saturday, June 27: . . . We got up home in time for supper and afterwards went down to the library. We were sitting on the steps with Rastus and Fred French when the Davidson’s walked the steps. Poor Rastus, he nearly fainted, and Fred almost went into hysterics. Then we all kindly adjourned and left Rastus to make his peace. . .

Friday, July 17 – We have had a terrible storm today: thunder and lightening, and a regular cloud burst. We were glad to see it though, for our cistern gave out a few days ago, and carrying water is no fun. I got a letter from Irene today, saying that they are going to have a progressive dinner party for Meg, as she is going away so soon. She wants me to join her in giving the fourth course. She said they would find a “grand” fellow to take me. I don’t see where they would find him, I’m sure, so that isn’t much of an attraction. Probably Ernest Rudolph or Rastus Beattie, and either one doesn’t come up to my conception of grand. . .

Wednesday, Aug 12 – More arithmetic and grammar, etc., and the hall hotter than ever. We have a pretty good time though, looking at the people. It’s a regular menagerie. This evening Sara and I were going to the band concert, so I met her down at the library and we sat on the steps waiting for it to begin. Something happened however and the concert was called off, so we still sat on the steps. Quite a lot of kids had come down & we had a regular party there. About half past eight we went home and Rastus came along with me. I stayed all night at Grandma’s so we went down there and sat on the side steps. Rastus got very confidential, and we had a real “heart to heart” talk.

More encounters with “Rastus,” but nothing that indicates he is really Homer Beattie. But this is still summer vacation, so if Home were in college . . .

For the next four months, Harriott does not mention “Rastus” at all. Then, after Christmas, he reappears:

Dec. 28 – 1908 – Went shopping all this aft. I guess I am going to the dance with Charley Yanquell. Poor child, he might as well take his grandmother. Met Rastus downtown. He is looking for a partner to the dance. Hope he’ll come around my way. Went down to the Sunday School Christmas tree tonight. They always have it on this date, Holy Innocent’s Day. I got a box of candy and an orange, and had some ice cream and cake. After that we went to the play, a stock company show, – and a fair sample. Lots of Pi Kappa girls haven’t bids, even Milly Monnett. She and Harry are off, so I hear.

Dec. 29, 1908 – I have another bid and it’s about time. Rastus Beattie asked me to go with him, and I accepted. I guess Charlie Y. is going to take Edna now. Irene stayed all night with me and we have been together all day. In the afternoon we went downtown and met Rastus. He joined us and wandered around with us all the aft., even down to Grandma’s.

Dec, 30, 1908 – Well the dance is over, and I had an awfully good time, so much better than I expected that I am quite satisfied. I think almost every one had a good time. There were more boys than girls, so there weren’t a whole lot of wallflowers.

So here we are. “Rastus” Beattie, who does not exist in any source beyond this diary, only appears in the diary when colleges are not in session, then disappears when they are in session. Is this Homer Beattie? What do you think? If you have a clue, post a comment below.


[1] “Forestry Club,” The Michiganensian Yearbook, 1913, p. 298

[2] Norwalk, Ohio Directory: 1909 – 1910, Page #: 8; Publisher: The Williams Directory Company, 1909


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