1913 L.L. Olds Seed Company Advertisement

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

Saturday, May 31, 1913:  What I did today was far from being romantic. I had to help plant taters this afternoon.

potato 1

25 Years’

Potato Experience

For a quarter of a century I have made a specialty of growing and handling Choice Seed Potatoes, testing all the leading varieties, retaining and improving the best. This year’s list is the cream.

My 26th Annual Seed Book

should be in the hands of every progressive farmer and gardener. It contains 54 pages crowded full of valuable information. The best in Seed Potatoes, Field and Garden Seeds of all kinds. Write postal today.

L.L. OLDS, President

L.L. Olds Seed Co., Drawer C, Madison, Wis.

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

Grandma did you dream about doing romantic things?  Hmm. . .  I guess that’s for another day.  In the meantime, the farm work needed to be done.

I’m not sure whether the Muffly’s raised potatoes to sell . . or if they just raised them for family use. Either way, they would have planted lots of potatoes. A hundred years ago potatoes were one of the main staples that people ate during the long winter months.

Previous posts about potatoes include:

Planting Potatoes

Harvesting Potatoes

Old-fashioned Fried Potatoes

Old-fashioned Potato Cakes

31 Responses

  1. Thanks for bringing back memories which you often do. I remember one year we planted potatoes in stack of old car tires. When they finished growing you were supposed to be able to lift the tires off and easily harvest the potatoes. It didn’t work too well :-).

    • Awhile ago I saw an internet article which recommended planting potatoes in a stack of tires–at the time I thought that it sounded interesting. It’s good to know that it doesn’t work too well. :)

  2. Oh gosh yes, I am sure there were many more pleasant things Helena would have preferred doing. Planting a few potatoes in one’s own garden is not so hard but planting a lot of them would be hard work and tiring and messy.

    • I think that children and teens often have less patience for the repetitiveness of planting seeds or potatoes than older people.

  3. Yes, nothing too romantic about planting a lot of potatoes, but the fresh air and physical work must have meant Helena was very fit. I hope she did eventually get to do some romantic things – like go to a dance or something in her new dress.

    • I hope so, too. :) The diary always gives me the sense that she had so many dreams, but that they often got subsumed by the work.

  4. Women had a much different life then than we do now – well, everyone did really. Maybe she was dreaming of a future beau while she was planting!

  5. I love garden potatoes! When I lived in BC I had several gardens. When I started a new patch I would always plant potatoes as the first crop – it seemed to help make good soil!

    • I also enjoy planting (and harvesting) potatoes, even though it’s a lot of work. I used to really enjoy helping my maternal grandfather (the other side of the family from this diary) dig potatoes. In more recent years, whenever I raise potatoes in my garden, I have wonderful memories of him.

  6. My mother worked as secretary to president John Salzer from 1922 to 1938. She was originally hired to help hand-address the first million seed catalogs mailed in 1922. They claimed to be tge worlds largest seed company, located in La Crosse, WI

    http://www.saveseeds.org/biography/salzer/index.html

    • Whew, I can’t even begin to picture people hand-addressing a million catalogs. It seems like that many catalogs would have almost filled a warehouse. Thanks for sharing the link to the Salzer Seed Company information. It’s really interesting to learn about what a seed company was like years ago.

  7. Far from romantic – that made me laugh :)

  8. This is my first visit to your blog. I absolutely love the idea of using your grandmother’s diary. It is fascinating. I’m sorry that I have missed so much of it.

    Her entry made me smile. It made me wonder about posts that I have missed. Did she write about boys? What would have been romantic. Probably almost anything is more romantic than planting “taters”. :)

    When I was growing up, there was an abandoned potato farm on our street. It still grew “taters”, although I can’t remember ever eating any of them. I believe all of ours were store bought.

    • In 1911 and early1912 you could tell that she had a “crush” on a guy–but it never seemed to go anywhere. She generally was a person of relatively few words when she wrote in the diary–so we’re left to trying to fill in the blanks.

  9. I remember planting taters. There was a deep hole on our property where they were buried to last the winter.

    • I also remember planting them. It was always kind of fun to cut the seed potatoes into pieces–each with a couple “eyes”.

  10. I can only imagine having the chore of planting taters to add to today’s housewifely list of things to do. Grandma may have been wishing for something romantic and I wonder what that could have been.

    • I also wonder. Based on the diary, it always seems like she did so much work–yet it also seems like she dreamed of other things.

  11. Thanks for this awesome post Sheryl, I’m totally needing a snack now. I love potatoes so much. I imagine Idaho’s a very romantic place indeed.

  12. I grew up eating everything fresh from our farm garden. And, potatoes must be planted if you are to reap the benefits of having them available when you want to make perhaps a romantic dinner of baked potato with homemade butter along with a steak for someone special.

  13. Hmhmhm…romantic stuff eh? Geez I wish I knew if she ever mentions/falls in love with her future husband in the diary!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 919 other followers

%d bloggers like this: