Played Cards After Play Practice

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

Friday, January 31, 1913: We went to practice again this evening. I don’t know any more of my part than the first time we practiced. Ruth had to stay in turn after it was over to spend a few hours in card playing. I’m not much of a card player but I did learn to play one game.

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

Recent photo of the McEwensville Community Hall and picnic grove. The festival probably was held in this small park.

The play practice probably was held at the McEwensville Community Center. The building has been a community center for more than 100 years–and it had a wonderful stage. In recent years part of the stage has been converted into a storage area, but when I was a child I can remember it being a regular stage with lots of rows of curtains.  I took these pictures in 2011 when I attended a community pot luck picnic.

DSC04338

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It sounds like Grandma’s sister Ruth went along to the play practice.  Based upon a previous diary entry, I thought that the play was a class play and that the cast members were students who would be graduating in the spring.  On January 20, Grandma wrote:

Our class expects to have a swell blow-out one of these days. We’re going to give a play. . .

Ruth was two years older than Grandma—and a teacher at a one-room school house.  This entry makes it sound like Ruth was also in the play. Maybe it really was a community play rather than a class play—or maybe Ruth just accompanied Grandma so that Grandma wouldn’t need to walk to town in the dark by herself.

In any case, it sounds like the girls had fun socializing after play practice. It probably was an almost perfect Friday night.

19 Responses

  1. Do you know what card games they played back then?

    I am researching for a post about an early card game.

    • I think that Flinch was a popular card game back then. Grandma wrote on March 1, 1911, “. . . I had quite a pleasant evening. I played Flinch part of the time. My partner and I winning two games.”

      See also several comments below about possible card games.

  2. I think Grandma may have been sheepishly hinting that not much practicing went on …I don’t know my part any better…but it does sound like she liked the card game :)
    Vanbraman…If I had to guess, I would say maybe they were playing Canasta or Rummy

    • Your comment brings back good memories. I haven’t played Canasta or 500 Rummy in years, but when I was a child we often played one or the other of them in the evening after all the work was done.

  3. Details, “Grandma”, we need more details!!! ;)

  4. My mother is from Grandma’s generation and she mentioned that Flinch was the card game they played. In fact, in their family, ‘card games’ were not played if they used a regular deck of cards – it was believed there was something about those pictures that was ‘bad’. “Good Christians don’t play card games” was somehow part of this.

  5. I too was wondering what card game she got better at. And I wonder what the play is.

    • I also wish that I could figure out what the play was. One Jan. 20 Grandma wrote that she was going to play the role of Chloe the servant. So much has changed over the last hundred years, but the role she was playing makes me want to explore a lot of related topics.

  6. I fell like I’ve entered social life 100 years ago and can just picture myself, Grandma and the girls playing cards and “practicing” for our parts..

  7. Hi. I like her honesty! Jane

    • She does seem to be honest with herself in the diary. Sometimes the diary provides less detail about events than I’d like, but unaffected way she writes more than makes up her brevity.

  8. Sheryl, do you know if there are archived newspapers for the area and time period? I have found community and school play mentions before in my family. You might be able to find out!

    • It’s a good idea to check the local newspaper. The Milton Public Library has microfilms of the Milton Evening Standard. The next time I’m in Milton I’ll have to try to stop by the library.

  9. That’s just wonderful that you can walk into the same building 100 years later. We had a little country hall where I used to live. It takes a big community effort to keep up the maintenance and plan events. Bravo McEwensville, you rock

    • It is amazing that the community hall has survived, been well-maintained, and is still the center of community activities. There are a lot of wonderful people in McEwensville who take great pride in their town.

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