Wading and Swimming

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

Saturday, July 13, 1912: My calling was out in the field today. I was glad when it was over and I was at leisure to do something.

Recent photo of the stream that flows through the farm Grandma grew up on.

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

Sounds like Grandma had to again watch cows or do some other type of field work. Thank goodness she apparently had time to do something fun—at least I hope it was fun; she only wrote that it was “something.”

I love to swim on hot summer days. I don’t think that Grandma ever learned how to swim, but she may have taken her shoes off and waded in the creek. The water would have felt good in the days before electric fans and air conditioners.

A book published in 1911 called Outdoor Sports by Claude Miller discussed the importance of confidence when swimming:

. . . The lack of confidence is disastrous. I have known girls who could swim perfectly well in the shallow but could not keep up at all in water out of their depth. And yet they have not been touching the bottom in the shallow water, but they could if they wished.

Learning to swim in water that is over your head is really better, though it is more “scary” at first. If you do learn in that way you can there-after look upon the deepest water with confident scorn.

9 Responses

  1. unfortunately, I still have the lack of confidence — but I am an expert wader from way back

  2. Funny back then, I guess it wasn’t a big leisure activity with farm folks. Plus the swim wear wasn’t all to sporty was it?

  3. Well, I never learned how to swim although I remember as a child swimming under water so it was quite over my head….lake swimming… I seem to sink like a rock…

    • That doesn’t sound like fun–actually it sounds scary!

      • Well, I was always a curious child… and when I’d try to swim I’d find myself sinking but after a few times I just held my breath and opened my eyes and could see the fish hiding in weeds etc. and it fascinated me… I guess I never went so long under that I was in any great danger. But I surely couldn’t swim very long that way.

  4. i think boys used to swim more than girls. Even in the 1930s I have photos of my uncles swimming in a creek but never my aunts.

  5. “… you can there-after look upon the deepest water with confident scorn.” Sometimes I think we’ve just lost the way with language they had 100 years ago…

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