Getting Ready for a Box Social

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

Thursday, February 1, 1912:

This is the only month that e’er can change

The only month that adds another day.

Though life is short and time is fleeting,

Should we not strive to glorify the way.

I had some small hopes to attend a box social tomorrow evening, but they have all fallen through this evening. Rachel and Al were down this evening. Ruth was busy making candy for her box. Her first attempt was a failure. She had the misfortune to burn it like fury. Of course it was worthless, anyway it appeased my curiosity and see how it tasted, I was so dumb as to stick my fingers in it, when it was the next thing to being red-hot. The result proved very disastrous. I am now the owner of a big blister on my finger.

Photo source: Wikipedia

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

Wow, they really had box socials a hundred years ago in rural Pennsylvania. When I think of box socials, I always think of the play Oklahoma where the climactic scene takes place at one.

Grandma’s sister Ruth would have filled her box with food for two.  At the box social the men would then bid on the boxes in hopes of getting to share the meal with the woman who made it.

This entry raises lots of questions–Why did Grandma decide not to go? Was Ruth really popular? . .. .  Will her box be bid way up by several men competing to get it?

Poor Grandma—first she wasn’t going to the box social; then she burned her finger.

Rachel and Al (Alvin) Oakes lived on a farm near the Muffly’s. Rachel was a friend of Grandma and Ruth. Al  was her brother.

The first diary entry each month begins with a poem. For more about the poems click here.

9 Responses

  1. Where did you get that photograph of a blistered finger?? Ouch!

    • It was on the Wikipedia site. I found it when I googled “burns wikipedia”. It’s always so hard to find pictures and many require permission–but I think that it’s okay to use ones from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons if i indicate where they came from.

  2. [...] like Grandma was having fun. According to yesterday’s diary entry she was not going to go to the box social that was being held that evening.  It sounds like she [...]

  3. In about 1925, my mother and grandmother told of the box socials that they had at the Pine Grove School. Grandma would fix dinner boxes for my mother who was 6, and 4 year old sister Gail. As they remembered the good times, they said Grandpa always bought the girls’ dinner boxes. He might have bough Grandma’s too, then my grandparents, the girls, and brother Clem would most likely had a good dinner.

    The box socials at that old school house were a prime source of entertainment in that sparsely housed community.

  4. Fascinating post Sheryl… the concept of a “Box Social” is unknown to me. Can you please to me more… e.g. what was the purpose of the social? I gather the boxes were auctioned, so who did the money go to? … a church? community organisation or??? …

    • You’re right, the boxes were auctioned as a fund-raiser for the school, a church, or some other community organization. Box socials were really popular a hundred years ago. When the girls made the boxes, they would put enough food in them for two people. The girls would try to make really nice boxes that would get high bids. The guy who was the winning bidder and the girl would then share the food in the box. Popular girls tended to make the boxes that received the highest bids–though I think that the guys weren’t really supposed to know which girl made which box until after the box was auctioned off.

  5. [...] I think this is the first box social that Grandma’s gone to since she began the diary—though her sister Ruth went to one in February, 1912. [...]

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