Fell While Carrying Milk

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

Sunday, January 10, 1914:  Fell down this morning carrying two big buckets full of milk. There was so much less after the fall, but as much of me remained as there was before.

Visited a friend after Sunday School this afternoon. We had no church.

Women with buckets of milk and a cream separator (Source: Kimball's Dairy Magazine--March 1, 1914)

Grandma probably was carrying buckets similar to the ones  in the picture. (The women in the picture are using a cream separator.)  Source: Kimball’s Dairy Magazine (March 1, 1913)

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


Grandma,  were you in the barn when you fell? . . . or walking between the barn and the house? Was the walkway icy?

I’m glad you’re still in one piece. Maybe you should carry only one bucket of milk at a time. Two is a lot. . .


There probably was no church service because the church didn’t have a minister. The previous Sunday Grandma wrote:

Our minister is going to leave soon. He preached his farewell sermon today. I am so sorry to see him go. There were some misty eyes in church this afternoon.

January 4, 1914

41 Responses

  1. “…as much of me remained as there was before.” That made me smile. Still no further mention of the dance or sleigh ride though. I wonder what happened?!

  2. Brings back some memories of dropping a gallon of milk while carrying it home from the grocery store on my bike.

    • And, I remember once dropping a half pint of milk (in an a glass bottle!!) in the school cafeteria when I was in elementary school. . . It is not a good memory. :)

  3. She took the fall in good spirit :)

    • I’m surprised that she was in a good mood. (I must have guessed that her parents would have yelled at her, and that she would have been upset.)

  4. Oh, that would have been terrible – all that milk! To record it in her diary at all shows how important it was.

  5. Ouch! Grandma probably had a bruise or two!

  6. We had a cream separator when I was a kid 60 yrs ago. It was missing the galvanized parts on top where the milk was poured in and cream came out. I would turn the crank and get it spinning fast. It just served as a play thing.

    • The cream separator sounds like it would have been fun for a child to play with. I don’t remember there being a cream separator on the farm where I grew up. I suppose they got rid of it before I was born.

  7. She definitely had a sense of humor! I’d have to think those pails were pretty heavy.

  8. She does have that dry sense of humor to see her through.

  9. Ha! Helena is witty – I love it!

  10. At least Grandma had a sense of humor about it. :)

    • I’m amazed that she was able to keep her sense of humor after spilling the milk . . though I guess the old saying says, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” :)

  11. Grandma had a delightful sense of humor! :)

  12. I just want to comment again on my delight with this blog. And the interesting twist in time, getting to know her as a young girl/woman.

    • I really enjoy having the opportunity to get to know my grandmother as a young woman via her diary. The grandmother that I remember was caring and kind, but very old.

  13. But . . . but . . . what about the dance?!

    • It’s frustrating how the diary sometimes moves on to new happenings without ever providing closure to previous entries about important things.

  14. Your grandma as such a wry sense of humor. She puts things in such a way as I’ve never heard before. That has to be one of her funniest entries. I’m glad she is ok. I remember ‘helping’ mom carry the milk pail when I was little.

  15. I remember those cream separators myself! Definitely says something about my age :)

  16. Milking in general was tough work. My grandfather and grandmother had only 4 to milk, but it was every day, no vacations. I remember looking at their wrinkled, weathered faces…and their strong hands and arms, muscled by years of milking. Carrying the buckets away was only the next step. My grandmother made butter and divided into cream and milk.
    Losing a minister was difficult for farming communities. It still is today, and often they get only a visiting pastor.
    Excellent post.

  17. Your grandma had a wonderful sense of humor and it shows especially well in this diary entry.

  18. I wish she had been wordy..I want to know about the dance too! I think girls were encouraged to have diaries but I think other people …sisters, brothers and Mothers read them..so sometimes they didn’t write too many details:):)

  19. She’s got a pretty dry wit.

  20. I do love your “turn of phrase”, Miss Muffly… :-)

  21. I have enjoyed this post and the comments. Your grandmother’s sense of humor seems to have been quite typical of those times. I have heard similar comments from a number of people I have known who came from that era. I did a bit of milking by hand in days gone by and could give a fairly thorough description of separating the cream with a hand-cranked separator. I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that she only carry one bucket of milk of milk. It is much easier to carry two because a person is balanced while carrying only one makes a person have to lean to the side and the bucket bumps against a leg. Try it some time and you will readily see what I mean. These posts are most enjoyable and bring back many memories.

    • You’re absolutely right–a person is more balanced carrying two buckets. It’s been so long since I’ve carried buckets filled with milk, and I’d somehow forgotten. :)

  22. I’m glad she was ok, but I’m sure they missed those two buckets of milk.

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