Walking Home with Friends on a Moonlit Night

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

Sunday, October 12, 1913: Went to Sunday School this morning. Ruth and I went up to church this evening. It was so nice and moonlight. Some of the girls walked down the road with us coming home.

moonlight.2.crop

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

This diary entry makes me feel both good and worried. Let me explain.

First, why it makes me feel good—

I can picture Grandma, her sister Ruth, and their friends ambling down the road from McEwensville toward the Muffly farm on a beautiful ,unseasonably warm, October evening.

I don't have an evening picture of the road that went from McEwensville toward the Muffly farm, but here's a daylight picture of the road .

I don’t have an evening picture of the road, but here’s a daylight picture of it.

I imagine a group of five or six girls in long skirts chatting and giggling about guys, friends, clothes, work, and all of the other important things that teens talk about.  And, in my mind, I envision that as they neared the midpoint between town and the Muffly farm that the group separated with Grandma and Ruth continuing on—and the other girls returning to McEwensville.

Now why it makes we worry—

This entry reminds me that Grandma often had to walk home alone in the dark after church, community, and (before she graduated) school events. Some of those nights were in the dead of winter—and it must have been excruciatingly cold.

Maybe people were just used to walking at night in rural areas back then, but I worry about her safety. (I know it’s a hundred years too late to worry—but I do it anyhow).  Did Grandma ever feel scared during the mile or so walk home through the dark countryside?

.

34 Responses

  1. At least they didn’t have to worry about cars speeding by. Definitely a lot safer then, but maybe a little spooky.

  2. Yes, and did they have any sort of lighting, as in lanterns?

  3. By scared do you fear of being harmed by someone? I guess there was always crime but I bet it was less likely 100 years ago as compared to today. I remember just in my lifetime how much it has changed. When my siblings and I were young in the late 60’s early 70’s we used to go about everywhere on our own. I could never let my daughter do the same in the 90’s and today.

  4. I do not think that there were the same worries then as there are now, as predatory abductors. It was a lot safer then in that regard.

    • I think that people generally knew everyone who lived nearby back then, so they felt safer. But at the same time, it was easier for someone to move from one area to another without anyone knowing anything about their past–which created a set of risks.

  5. I agree with the other commenters. I grew up in a rural area (on a fairly well traveled highway, though) and we never worried about things that are happening today. We never even locked our doors!
    It saddens me to see the way our country has changed.

  6. Maybe it’s because I’m in Britain and not the US, but I don’t have the same worries about rural walks like this. What an absolutely beautiful lane to walk down in the moonlight!

  7. back then it was darker then what we experience today with street lights etc. I bet it was somewhat unnerving along with the silence. wild animals may have been more of a scare then man.

  8. I enjoy walking in the winter and I am sure they wore wool clothes and were not cold.

    • I also enjoy walking in the winter; and am really proud of myself when I take a walk (even if it’s just a short one) on a really cold day.

  9. I’ll bet she wasn’t scared. Well, maybe of the animals — but she was a farm girl.

  10. PRECIOUS. Even the mundane becomes fascinating through the lens of history.

  11. She sounds like she loved the experience–having people to walk with would change everything.

  12. Maybe gramma was used to it she did not know anything different to compare with, I speak by experience :-)

  13. I am not 100 but I am in my 70’s and I have walked in rural areas and on city streets at night having no fear but I could not do that today. It has changed so much and safety is a much bigger issue now than it was back then.

  14. I agree the cold walks would have been a dampener on the day. These days, we pick our kids up in a warm, heated car. Too easy!

  15. I imagine it was really dark along that road, though the moon probably provided some light. Back then people didn’t even lock their doors. They didn’t have media 24/7 of everything going on around the world. It would be interesting to know what her thoughts were on that.

  16. Your post reminds me of the Sunday afternoon I had today. I went visiting down the road after church and stayed for quite awhile. I had to walk home and was worried it would get too dark to do so. It’s not cold here, but I wanted to be home before dark. The 72 year old neighbor I was visiting was worried too and walked me halfway against my protests for her to stay home. Then I worried about HER. :)

  17. The only thing I worried about at night (no lights where we lived either) were the dang bats flipping by. I fell down once and skinned my knees pretty good on the gravel road when one zipped by too close. I don’t imagine there was too much riff-raff driving by out there, but you never can be too cautious. I also don’t care too much for coyote’s howling in the dark, I’d hang on pretty tight to Buddy. Sometimes I’d sing…really loud so they’d know I wasn’t a snack.

  18. I remember how terrified I was when I moved to Los Angeles. I had listened to all the media about how much danger the area I was going to held. Then, I started living there. And for me, living includes walking! What do you know. The neighborhoods were full of families. People were shopping, going to work, going to the doctor, going to church. Walking alone or loitering in dark places might have made me feel anxious, but walking with family and friends, I tended to meet friendly people. (I’ll admit that people are even friendlier in Idaho.)

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