Memorizing Essay to Present at Graduation

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

Tuesday, April 8, 1913:  Am trying to learn my essay. I know about half of it.


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

Even though Grandma won’t graduate for another several weeks, I’m going to share her commencement program today since I think that she probably was trying to memorize an essay that she wrote for her graduation speech.

(The graduation program contains lots of interesting tidbits—and I plan to explore different facets of if in several upcoming posts. Today I’m just going to focus on Grandma’s speech.)

Grandma was probably trying to memorize the essay that she mentioned on March 21, 1913:

. . . Am tugging away at my old essay it is almost finished.

Her graduation essay was titled Relics of the Earth’s Past. I wonder how the topics were selected. Maybe it was a really interesting speech, but the topic sounds kind of boring to me.

Earlier in the year, Grandma had written about writing an essay on the Revolutionary War. The teacher told the class that the person who wrote the best essay would win  a 2 1/2  dollar gold piece. Based on the program, it appears Grandma didn’t win the gold piece—since J. Karl Watson did a graduation presentation titled, Valley Forge, A Dark Spot of the American Revolution.

25 Responses

  1. I love her topic :-). Of course, I really like archeology.

    • I have a difficult imaging what the essay would have said. Your enthusiasm for her topic makes me feel a little more excited about it.

  2. Love that you have this program! I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts about Grandma’s graduation.

    • I have a few old mementos in a file folder. I thought that I remembered seeing the commencement program in the folder; and was pleased when I looked–and there it was.

  3. Thank you for sharing this entry and jogging a memory. When I had to give a graduation speech long ago, I opened my mouth and nothing came out. I was so frightened, I turned red and almost fainted. I finally got the words out, but the fear and the horror never left the memory department.

  4. I thought it was an interesting subject and I wonder if she was at one time interested in archeology. I like your grandfathers topic too. Or is that another Raymond Swartz?

  5. That’s so cool that you have access to that. It makes me want to take another look through my mementos box.
    Laura Hedgecock

  6. Oh, how I would love to read her essay about the Relics of the Earth’s Past….

  7. We never had motivation like that to write an essay!

  8. How amazing that you are in possession of the program too. I get chills when I look at the date.

  9. How neat that you have the program! I hope you will also be able to share some of the speech.

  10. […] of mementoes that were found in Grandma’s house after she died. One item in the folder is the Commencement program that I shared two days ago. Another is this name […]

  11. wish we could read the essay…From reading your blog I have changed our scrapbook. I have been inserting examples of the speeches my boys make. That way their kids or grandkids can read what they did. Love your page.

    • Thanks for the nice note. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys it and finds it useful.

  12. […] Was she still making final revisions to her commencement speech titled Relics of the Earth’s Past? […]

  13. A few questions…
    Is Raymond your grandpa? Is Mauser her teacher? Is Carrie not “Grandma”‘s age?
    And a couple comments…
    What a small class! My school’s Class of 2014 is a whole lot bigger than that, I know. Probably somewhere around 500…the school has around two…three thousand students.
    I’m guessing your grandma liked History? Must have if she wrote two essays, willingly, in a single year. :-P

    • Raymond is my Grandpa. I think that Carrie was a couple years younger than Grandma–but am still trying to learn more about her.

      It is amazing how small this school was–and I think that it probably was considered a bit old-fashioned when Grandma attended it. Some of the nearby towns that were a little larger than McEwensville built more modern consolidated high schools in the early 1900s.

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