Not Presentable

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

Saturday, July 19, 1913:  Had company again, but I didn’t make my appearance, since I did not consider myself presentable.

DSC05723.crop.2Picture of a bedroom in the April, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal.  Did Grandma go to her bedroom to avoid the company?

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

Wow, it’s amazing that the Muffly’s had company two days in a row. Visitors are seldom mentioned in the diary, but the previous day, Grandma  wrote, “We had company this evening.”

Who were the visitors? Was it the same people as the preceding day or different people?

And, why was Grandma worried about whether she looked presentable? If the guests were friends of her parents, I won’t think that she would care how she looked.

Grandma was having a difficult July, and often felt down. For example, on July 14 she wrote that she was “sick at heart”. Maybe the guests were older people whose conversation didn’t interest her so she didn’t want to see them—but it also seems like the company might have included someone about her age (and maybe male), and but that her unhappiness unfortunately kept her from joining the group.

16 Responses

  1. Well, well, Grandma is really going through something. Hope we get a hint soon.

  2. Maybe it wasn’t unhappiness and simply that she felt she didn’t look nice. Maybe she had a long day working and didn’t have time to clean up for unexpected guests.

  3. Interesting that she had the freedom to NOT present herself.

  4. Was she shy, I wonder? Perhaps there was a man who appealed to her among the company.

  5. I hope we see a turnaround in Grandma soon – she does seem to have had a difficult month…!

  6. Presentable is an interesting word in this context. I like the photo you found, too – the beds look so self-important!

  7. Being presentable, manners and etiquette, etc., were all way more important back then, weren’t they?

  8. I wonder if she preferred avoiding the company. I remember coming up with many excuses to skip family obligations when I was a teenager.

  9. perhaps she wanted to see someone in that group but felt she was not presentable and miserable consigned herself to the room rather than risking that person see her in the “unpresentable”. hmmm… speculation… speculation…

  10. There’s lots of guesses for this one, we’ll see what happens next.

  11. Hi. I can remember wishing I could avoid my parents’ visitors. I could never think of anything to say. Jane

  12. perhaps she had been was a BIG for her not to visit with the company was a big deal..something is amuck..perhaps she was sick..had a big boil or a case of Poison ivy or something:)

  13. She was certainly a gal of few words!

  14. Wow. The plot thickens. I wonder if she’d laugh at our attempts to ferret out what was probably a very mundane reason for her — she didn’t feel presentable.

  15. I wonder if there was a young man amongst the guests that she had an attraction to. Something like that could make a girl in her late teens still feel a little awkward and changeable.

  16. Wow, those beds in the picture seem to be raised really high! I’d hate to fall off!

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