Grandma’s Personality: Unbroken, Feisty . . .

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 27, 1911: All my fears, my doubts are over. Mollie and I are just in clover. She stands to perfection. She is entirely broken, hers indeed is a gentle nature, almost the opposite of her owner.

"Broken" cow standing still while being milked. (Photo source: Kimball's Diary Farmer Magazine, December 15, 1911)

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

Mollie was Grandma’s cow. She had her first calf in August and it was sold two days prior to this diary entry. Grandma worried that the young cow would not take kindly to being milked—but Mollie apparently stood still and didn’t kick.

It’s interesting how Grandma compared herself to the cow. She said that the cow had been broken and had a gentle nature—but that she’s the opposite

This implies that Grandma considered herself to be feisty, energetic, a firebrand, a rabble-rouser.  . . .

I’d also argue that she was self-reflective.

I’m not sure whether Grandma saw these attributes as good or bad. Women a hundred years ago were generally encouraged to be obedient and to subsume personal desires. However, the suffragettes were active in urban areas —so maybe Grandma was able to see her spirited personality in a positive way.

But my gut feeling is that Grandma didn’t appreciate the value of these traits. Grandma was probably constantly told  by her parents and others that she was stubborn—and, reading between the lines– I sense that she was trying to change herself so that she was better behaved like the cow.

I know that I can’t change the past so I shouldn’t even go there, but I really, really hope that Grandma wasn’t too hard on herself.  A little feistiness is much better than a broken spirit.

3 Responses

  1. In my family of a 100 years ago, I have found that the women did what they needed to do — sometimes within the social norms and sometimes not. Fiesty.

    • I like the way you put it. Social norms have changed so much over the years–and it ‘s interesting how women were able to do what needed to be done under a different set of constraints than what we have today.

  2. [...] August. And, Grandma had been pleased with how well Mollie adjusted to being milked, For example on September 27 she wrote: “Was in doubts and fears as to how Mollie would act when I commenced to milk her. Pop [...]

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