Helena, Helen, or Grandma?

Monday, January 2, 1911: Missing Entry (Diary resumes on  January 12)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

There are only a few days of missing entries in the entire four-year diary, and most of them are here at the very beginning of the diary.

Since there are no entries for the next several days–and since I’ve found some interesting contextual information as I’ve worked on this–I’ll periodically post background information over the next week or so. And, then the diary postings will really get going on a daily basis on the 12th.

Grandma’s Name

As I work at posting this diary I’ve struggled with what name to use when referring to the diary’s author.

The diary’s 15-year-old author called herself Helena. My grandmother called herself Helen. I grew up in the farmhouse where my grandmother had lived when my father was a child. When I was a teen I found Helena Muffly’s high school diploma in the attic.

I saw Grandma the next Sunday, and after church I asked her whether her name was Helen or Helena. She said Helen. When I told her about the name on the diploma. She replied, “Oh, that was just kid stuff.”

My cousin Stu did a little research on Grandma’s name using the Family Search tool that the Church of Latter Day Saints has on their website. He found that her name is listed as Helena in the 1900 and 1920 censuses–but that it is Helen in the 1910 one. For the 1900 census the image of the census page is even on the website.  (When I replicated his search, I had the best luck when I used Northumberland County Pennsylvania as her address.)

Helen? Helena? Grandma? It seems strange to call a 15-year-old Grandma, but that’s how I think of her. Maybe I’ll just call the author Grandma when I write about her even though she was many years away from becoming my grandmother.

Ruminations About Why Grandma Didn’t Post for Several Days

 Maybe Grandma had writer’s block and found it difficult to get the diary doing. Maybe she was sick and didn’t feel like writing.

Or, maybe I somehow missed copying a page in the early 1980s when the diary was circulated amongst family members. But how could I have missed copying page 2 of the diary?!?!?

More likely a page or two was removed from the diary. Maybe Grandma herself—or someone else—didn’t want others to read something that she wrote.  What could she have possibly written that she wouldn’t want others to read? . . . a fight with her mother?  . . . a description of potential beau? . . . .or maybe the 15-year-old wrote something that she feared would get her in trouble and tore the page out?  . . . .or maybe her sister read the diary and didn’t like an unflattering comment and tore it out? . . . . or . . . .?

5 Responses

  1. Fantastic blog!!

  2. There is always a WHY we will never find out.
    I just saw Gail’s comment on top.
    I don’t think I will read all your posts today as I did with Gail’s yesterday.

  3. […] I’m going to repost part of what I wrote on Day 2 of this blog,  January 2, 2011: […]

  4. Diary posts remind me of Lark Rise to Candleford, about a little English village at the turn of the century. PBS is running the series, which is based on Flora Thompson’s memoir. The settings are realistic and the characters are endearing.

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