Parcel Post Packages Sold at White Elephant Sale

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

Saturday, April 18, 1914:  Went to a social this evening up at town. Parcel post packages were sold at an auction. I bought a package, which, when unwrapped disclosed a handkerchief. That wasn’t a misfit, but there were some that were more. Who ever heard of a man wearing a sun bonnet or an apron? Well that’s what some of them got.

Milton Evening Standard (April 28, 1914)

Source: Milton Evening Standard (April 28, 1914)

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

Wow, occasionally I just tingle, when a post pulls together like this one did. I never would have guessed that I’d find a newspaper story about this diary entry—

Several weeks ago, I was browsing through old Milton Evening Standard microfilms at the library looking for interesting stories and advertisements that I could use on days when Grandma didn’t write much—and suddenly this column jumped out at me. Grandma attended the party described in the paper!

Parcel post in the US began in 1913—and apparently it was such a cool thing that people had fundraisers with White Elephant sales—but with a twist. Instead of bringing the wrapped items to the party, they mailed them via parcel post.

Two days before this entry, Grandma mailed several packages that apparently were sold at the party:

Went up to town this afternoon to mail some parcel post packages. Oh dear me, and it cost eleven cents . . .

April 16, 1914

23 Responses

  1. Eleven cents! She’d be in a tizzy at today’s prices to ship packages.

    • There’s been a lot of inflation over the past 100 years–but it still seems amazing that she thought that 11 cents was a lot to pay to mail a package.

  2. I’m not surprised you got excited about this one!

  3. Mr. Robert High of McEwansville sounds like my kind of guy.

    • I agree. I also thought that it was interesting that there were 18 children in McEwensville nine years prior to the newspaper article (1905), but 48 children in 1914. McEwensville must have been growing during this time period.

  4. Wow – it is amazing to find the article to go along with Grandma’s diary entry! I remember that’s happened before, but it’s always thrilling for you and your readers!

  5. The newspaper clipping is so typical of small town papers. They are disappearing.

    • It’s too bad that the small town newspapers are disappearing. They provide so much information about what is happening in their communities.

  6. Who ever heard of a man wearing an apron!

  7. Very neat! I understand why you tingled when you found the matching local paper report to the diary entry – making an actual connection through the ages.

  8. How wonderful that you found an article about it! I like that a prominent dentist was visiting and that the dentist was a woman! How significant in those day… :)
    Diana xo

    • I had similar thoughts about the visiting dentist. It was wonderful to learn not only that there were female dentists a hundred years ago–but also that at least this female dentist was treated with respect and called prominent.

  9. Great discoveries through her notes and your research! I smiled when she wrote that a man wearing an apron was in the misfit category :)

  10. You must have been so delighted at this fine. You are on a non stop treasure hunt!

  11. Such a fun post! I love that you found the article about the events in her journal. And such a fun party idea.

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