1914 Black Hat

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

Wednesday, May 13, 1914:  Tried to turn milliner and fix up a hat. Mad over the shape, also dyed it with shoe-blackening. Later in day I missed the wonderful creation on which I had spent so much energy. It ended in Ma fessing that she had burned it. All that time wasted too. Oh my.

Was shoe blackening used to dye this hat? Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

Was shoe blackening used to dye this hat? Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

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

Note to my Great-Grandmother—

I know that I should be respectful since you are my great grandmother. but how dare you destroy your daughter’ s self-esteem by burning her creative efforts?

Maybe the hat was ugly, but couldn’t you have waited a couple days to destroy it?

20 Responses

  1. ‘Oh my’ seems a very restrained response from Helena.

  2. What a terrible pity. I’d have gone crazy if my mother had burned something I was making, Interesting that she has such a sense of ‘time wasted.’

  3. Was her mother usually this way? If not perhaps your GG had interesting motivations we can only guess at … Self expression like your Grandmothers must have been so much harder back then! What an interesting diary entry.

  4. Wow – Grandma’s words do seem mild compared to what she’s describing…. how sad for her. That may have been one of those actions that her mother regretted in later years. I have a few of those….

  5. Lovely, she would fit right in at the Kentucky Derby. Too bad hats aren’t more in style these days.

  6. I smiled so much over Helena’s words/efforts. Youth really hasn’t changed much in 100yrs has it!? I can totally see my 20something daughter doing and reacting much as Helena did.
    Great great post!
    ps. I can’t believe her granny tossed the hat in the trash!

  7. You tell her Sheryl!

  8. In defense of great grandma, would she even have known Helena was being creative? I have this idea that a shoe-blackened hat might not have looked like much . . .

  9. I miss hats and gloves. Used to be required for Sunday morning and I loved it!

  10. I read this at first as Grandma accidentally burning an area of it. But now, after reading the other comments, I wonder if she didn’t just toss it into the fire. Oh my.

  11. Do you know the children’s book Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman?

  12. Do you think the hat was burned because it was too risqué?

  13. Wow, there’s so much more we want to know about this, what were they thinking 100 years ago, was the hat too risque?

  14. Would the shoe blackening run in rain? Perhaps Great Grandma treated her to a new hat later…

  15. This one made me laugh out loud. Your grandma has such a way with words! But it really is too bad that her hard work was for nothing. Hopefully she learned a few crafty skills that came in handy at a later date.

  16. What strikes me is your grandma’s cool reaction to the destruction of her creation.

  17. The first thing I thought was shoe blackening might be extremely flammable – - and your Great Grandma set fire to the hat?

  18. This is a pretty fascinating post…makes me wonder what it actually looked like (and think great grandma probably burned it for health concerns :-)

  19. […] Two days ago I did a post about Grandma’s attempt to remodel a hat. When I was looking for a picture to illustrate that post, I came across some wonderful pictures of Panama hats in the June, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal. […]

  20. awwww, so disappointing. I wonder why?

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