Angry! Lost the Debate

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

Friday, November 29, 1912:  Came out a licked dog in the debate. Did feel so mad at first. Felt crosser than the dickens this evening.

Helena Muffly

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

GRANDMA, WHY DIDN’T YOU WRITE MORE?!?! Your frustration and anger are so clear, and you’ve been preparing for a week, yet you never told us what the debate was about.

Okay, that’s unfair.  I know that you were writing for yourself and couldn’t have possibly known that we’d read this a hundred years later. . .  And, I know that I can’t talk to a dead person. . . .

But, one thing that I do know is that your future husband, Raymond Swartz, was one of the other students in your small senior class. Did you debate against him?

I’m going to imagine that the debate was about women’s suffrage—and that the debate was the guys against the gals. Did the guys make “obvious” points during that debate that would horrify us today, but that you were unable to rebut to the satisfaction of the teacher and other students?

I sympathize—Sometimes I also can’t adequately explain things that are really important to me in ways that others understand.

Notes to my readers—

1. For more about Raymond and Helana’s marriage, see a previous post about their 40th wedding anniversary.

2. I don’t usually  “talk” directly to my Grandmother in these posts, but I had so many questions and it seemed like the best way to write what I was thinking.  Does it work when I talk to her? . . .or are my usual more straight-forward descriptions better?

18 Responses

  1. I think it’s great when you (we) talk to ancestors! Even if they could hear us I know they couldn’t respond but it is fun to imagine a conversation, even if it is one-sided.

  2. I think it works both ways. I suspect you find certain posts lend themselves to different approaches as you prepare them. I continue to enjoy these every day, so thank you so very much for sharing them. :)

  3. I’m all for the role playing chit-chat with ancestors. Sometimes that’s the easiest way to tell your story. Was your Grandma a very direct person? She seems to just get to the point, no dilly-dallying with too many details. It’s fun to imagine though.

  4. I agree with everyone else, chat away when the urge strikes and use commentary/description when it feels right.

  5. Chatting and describing are both fine with me also. Sometimes it’s just plain good to talk/question even when no one responds.

  6. Both approaches work well — in this case, I shared your questions and wondered what the debate was about. Sorry Helena ended up disappointed!

  7. It works! So does the other. Maybe you could just alternate when the mood strikes or the diary entries dictate.

  8. I am enjoying what you are doing with your grandmother’s diary, continue on. Diary entries tend to leave us wanting more.

  9. Yes. I’d like to ask her a few questions about her mysterious posts myself.

  10. I “talk” to my ancestors all the time, and I don’t even have a diary to go by. It’s one of the side-effects of being a genealogist, I fear. I really admire your blog. I want to blog about my ancestors – who are VERY real to me & my genealogy-cousins. I even set up a separate blog site for that purpose, but so far I haven’t found a way to actually begin. I enjoy your blog VERY MUCH. This is a great approach! I’ll be following along from now on! :-) Rani

  11. I like the chatting. It’s what I was thinking as well – made me glad you asked her!

  12. I think it’s fine, you talking to her. Hey, I do it!

    Anyway, I do have a second blog, one about my rats Bunny and Button. Don’t know if you’d be interested in it, but I thought I’d tell you about it. So here’s the link:
    http://theratdiaries.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks for the note, Anna-I totally understand. There are so many things that you need to think about when blogging and it can get really complicated. I put the short version of your comments up. I hope that’s okay. Thanks for sharing the link. The Thanksgiving video was so much fun.

  13. Thank you all for your very useful comments. It’s very helpful to know that I didn’t “go off the deep end” with this post. As suggested, I’ll occasionally use this writing style when a diary entry lends itself to it.

  14. I like it when you talk to your Grandma too Sheryl… after all, I’ve often directed some of my comments straight to Miss Muffly, also… :-)

  15. “Sometimes I also can’t adequately explain things that are really important to me in ways that others understand.” Oh how this resonates with me, Sheryl – sometimes I wonder if my brain is from another planet! Somehow I think your grandma may be finding your frustration a little amusing. :)

  16. Although I’m a couple of months late reading this post, I think it’s nice that you “talk” to your Grandma!

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