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

Monday, December 18, 1911: Got up about five o’clock this morning. I milked this morning in entire darkness, but I guess I’ll wait until it gets lighter after this. Ruth left about half past six this morning intending to take the early train. Don’t know what I’ll do without her. Am beginning to miss her already. I consoled myself by going to Watsontown and buying Xmas presents. I got Mater a half doz. tumblers. Ruth a pair of gold collar pins. Besse a gold hat pin and Jimmie a horn to make some noise with. After going over my list of things I bought I found that one of the clerks had cheated herself out of fifteen cents.

Advertisement Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (September 15, 1911)

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

Whew, Grandma had a long day. It doesn’t sound like fun to get up at 5 a.m. to milk cows on one of the shortest days of the year.

And, it’s kind of cool that Grandma missed her sister Ruth so quickly after she left–or at least wished that her sister was there to help with the work. In so many diary entries, Grandma seemed annoyed or frustrated with her sister; and refers to her as Rufus, her highness, etc. It’s been fun to try to decipher the complex relationship between the sisters.

At least Grandma had a  fun shopping. I love the line about the clerk cheating herself out of 15 cents. Grandma would have noticed that type of mistake even when she was elderly. She strongly believed that if you watched your pennies that the dollars would take care of themselves. (Actually she probably also worried about the dollars.)

Even when Grandma was very old, if she saw a penny lying on a sidewalk, she would bend down to pick up.

I also always pick up stray pennies whenever I see any—and remember that I learned the importance of every single penny from Grandma. I tell my children that I’m still young because I can still bend and pick pennies up. My children retort that I must be old if I think that a penny still has enough value to make it worthwhile picking up.

4 Responses

  1. glad to hear your back and values are strong — keep picking up those pennies.

  2. Milking in the dark & cold does not sound like fun! Chuckled over the pennies story and the kids’ responses.

    • A post script to this post. I recently bent over to pick up a penny and almost got run over by a bicylist who wasn’t expecting me to suddenly stop. Until that happened I hadn’t thought about risks associated with picking up pennies.:)

  3. [...] do all of the milking by herself! Grandma mentioned getting up at 5 a.m. to do the milking on the 18th.  Ruth was attending a teacher professional development [...]

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