Don’t Want to Miss School

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

Tuesday, November 26, 1912:  Ma’s so sick. Hope I don’t have to miss school. That would spite me something dreadful.

Her mother probably needed help with both housework and barn work

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

I wonder what’s wrong with Grandma’s mother.  Maybe she caught whatever ailment her little brother Jimmie had the previous week. On November 19 Grandma wrote:

Poor little Jimmie got sick last night and had to miss his first day of school.

It seems like Grandma’s parents were quicker to consider having their children miss school when extra help was needed than parents today. For example, on November 18, 1912 Grandma also was concerned that she might need to miss school:

I’m half way out of something I’m worrying about since before school started and that was that I was afraid I’d have to miss school when Pa had his threshing done. They started today and well I went to school today too. So glad I don’t have to miss, that would be too bad for me.

(A positive note about Grandma’s parents–Even though Grandma periodically worried that her parents would make her miss school for one reason or another, I don’t think that she ever actually missed school because they needed her at home.)

13 Responses

  1. I really like the picture of the barn!

    • It is an impressive old barn! There were several diary entries that Grandma wrote in Spring 1911 about carpenters building a wing on the barn–so it is more than 100 years old.

  2. Sorry to hear another Muffly became ill – had hoped for their sake it would not spread. I do suspect school had a different place in people’s worlds 100 years ago. While people were much the same, life was different.

  3. I also like the picture!

  4. My mother’s family were a farm family in the midwest, and 100 years ago not many children we able to go beyond 8th grade because they were needed to work on the farm. My Mom, the middle of 9, went to college – but her older siblings were not able to do so.

    • Your mother was very fortunate to be able to go to college. I wonder how–as the middle child (and a female)–she happened to be the one who my able to get a post-secondary education..

      My Grandmother’s little brother Jimmie went to college–but I don’t think that any of the girl’s did (though her sister Ruth may have briefly attended some sort of teacher preparation program).

  5. In my neck of the woods, the school year revolved around the planting and reaping farm season. My elderly cousins speak often of missing school because they were needed at home.

  6. I guess they really did talk like ‘little house on the prairie’…very cute. I kinda like that something fierce.

  7. Now, some kids today would be all too happy to miss school. But, it sounds like attending school was a privilege back then.

  8. Yes, it was a privilege back then. I think I read somewhere that only about 1/3 of the people a hundred years ago had a high school diploma.

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