The Future Will be Better

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

Sunday, May 24 – Thursday, May 28, 1914: Nothing much doing.

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

Curt Hester, holding Harold Swartz, with Marjorie Swart and Curt Hester Jr.Things will get better for Grandma and her sister Besse. This photo was taken in 1924—and it is a picture of Besse’s husband Curt. The older boy is his son, Curt, Jr. The other two children are two of Grandma’s children. The baby is my father Harold, and the little girl is his sister Marjorie.

Somehow “nothing much doing” seems like odd words for Grandma to write in her diary to summarize the days following the death of her infant niece—but maybe that’s the best she could do. It had to be difficult.

Besse and Curt Hester had one child who lived beyond infancy. Curt, Jr. was born in 1915, and had a nice, long life. He died in 1999 at the age of 83.

When I was child, Curt Jr. lived in the house that Grandma lived in when she was writing this diary. In other words, he lived in the lovely house pictured in the header of this blog.

29 Responses

  1. Thanks for telling us that Besse and Curt did succeed in having a child. Sadly, they couldn’t then know they were going to have that one happy ending. It must have been so very hard.

    • I’ve tried to imagine what it must have been like for Besse when she was pregnant the third time. It must have been really stressful and difficult–thank goodness that one turned out well.

  2. Thanks the cheerful news.

  3. oops, thanks for the cheerful news.

  4. I love that old photo–it’s nice to think about the joy those children brought to their families.

  5. Glad to hear they had a child who survived. Was surprised how much older Curt Sr looks than I would have imagined – life was tough in those days.

    • This photo was taken 10 years after the diary entry. Curt was born in 1883, so he would have been 31 in 1914 (and 41 in 1924 when the photo was taken). Besse was 5 years younger than Curt..

  6. Those must have been awful days when so many infants died!!! Thanks for the positive news on this Memorial weekend when it’s a time of remembrance for everyone we’ve lost.

  7. I like how you are able to cut across time and space with the old photos and diary entries. That is why genealogy interests me.

  8. Thank you, Sheryl, for letting us know that ultimately there was a happy ending for Curt and Besse.

    • The diary ends at the end of 1914–I really wish that it went longer so that I’d be able to read what Grandma was thinking when Curt, Jr. was born.

  9. I imagine Helena was not feeling chatty, assimilating the sad news. This photo is wonderful–proof that Besse & Curtis’s wish was fulfilled.

  10. So good to know that there would be happy days ahead.

  11. It is comforting to know that Besse and Curt had a son. And how wonderful it is for you to have a picture of your dad as a baby! I’m remembering some of your earlier posts where you and your dad shared the stories of Helena’s diary.
    Diana xo

    • I keep looking at my father in the picture. It may be my imagination, but it almost seems like he is reaching for the photographer. Since Grandma liked to take photos, I sometimes wonder if she took this picture–but I really have not idea who took it.

  12. Thanks for the happier outlook for the future. Your grandmother’s paucity of words reminds me of what I’m trying to convey about the Swedish heritage as I work on “My Father’s House.” There was such a strong pressure to refrain from showing emotions. (as in the joke about the Norwegian who loved his wife so much, he almost told her.)

    • Times were different back then. People (especially males) were expected to be stoic and not show emotions.

      I love the Scandinavian sense of humor!

  13. Hi. It’s hard to learn of children who didn’t live long. It’s desperately sad for the parents . And for other relatives who aren’t so close but still love them. Jane

  14. Thanks for reporting the good news! Love the picture!

  15. What a super old picture

  16. Happy news in the future, indeed! I am glad for that. The picture you posted is fabulous; I like the casualness of it and the movement — not stiff and stuffy at all! — I found in researching my family, there won’t always be an obituary for an infant; it seems to depend on the situation. There weren’t any in my family for any of the infants who died. Birth, death, and baptismal certificates, yes, but not obituaries. I find that interesting.

  17. How amazing to have such an early photo of your dad. It must have been devastating to loose a child. Early life seemed much more precarious back then. Almost all families had children who died in infancy.

  18. You have an interesting perspective–you know what the future held for your Grandma and family.

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