18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Sunday, November 23, 1913: Went to Sunday School this morning. The Lutherans gave a thank offering this evening. Was present.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
The recent series of posts that I did on the death and funeral of Grandma’s grandfather were really difficult for me. They hit too close to home.
All month I’ve gone back and forth about how much to share about my personal life –and how much to keep it separate from the happenings a hundred years ago. I think that I’m now ready to share.
My 90-year-old father, Harold Swartz, passed away on October 31, 2013. He was Helena’s son.
During early November I barely managed to do the daily posts (and sometimes wondered if I should even be trying) — but somehow I felt like Dad wanted me to do them.
Then, on November 19, I got to the spot in the diary where Grandma’s grandfather died. I dreaded writing that post—and when I calculated that he was also 90 years old. . . .whew.
Dad was one of the reasons that I started this blog. I did it to give me things to talk about with him, and it was an activity we enjoyed doing together.
During the first year or so of the blog, every time I visited Dad, we’d go on car rides to take pictures of places that Grandma mentioned in the diary. I learned so much about Grandma (and Dad) during those trips.
Most mornings I called Dad. We’d often discuss upcoming diary entries. Sometimes, particularly when Grandma wrote about agricultural topics, Dad would help me figure out what she was talking about. For example, on June 24, 1911 she wrote:
. . . Have to carry the hay rope now. Such fun.
And, here is what I wrote:
My father guesses that Grandma was half carrying and half dragging the hay rope to keep the horse from inadvertently stepping on it.
Dad said that when he was young there were pulleys on a track that ran down the center of the inside of the barn roof. Depending upon where the farmer wanted to pile the hay the pulleys would be moved along the track. A young man with excellent balance would climb up onto a beam in the barn rafters and move the pulleys along the track as needed.
One end of the rope was attached to a large clamp (hay hook) that was used to pick up a large bunch of loose hay from the wagon.
The rope went then went through the pulley system—and the other end of the rope was attached to a horse. On command the horse walked forward and the pulleys lifted the hay into the mow.
The hay was then released and the rope went limp and a portion of it would fall to the barn floor. The horse would then be walked back to the original position and the process would be repeated.
My father says that when he was a child, the adult men did the heavy work, and the children did the easier jobs. His older sister Marjorie would lead the horse as it pulled the hay upward—and then circle it back to the original position after the hay was released.
And my father would pick up the rope when it fell to the floor after the hay was released and keep it away from the horse’s feet. Dad says that if a horse stepped on the rope it would damage it by breaking some of the strands. Then there would be the risk of the damaged rope breaking, which might result in a dangerous accident if it broke while the hay was being lifted.
Dad, I miss you! Without your assistance, this blog won’t be quite as rich.