Is It Okay for a Guy to Walk a Girl Home?

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

Monday, June 29, 1914:  Nothing much to write about.

Recent photo of the road that went  to the Muffly farm.

Recent photo of the road that went to the Muffly farm.

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy reading some more hundred-year-old advice from an advice columnist called “Aunt Harriet.” It was published in Farm Journal.

Heart Problems

by

Aunt Harriet

A girl writes me that in her neighborhood “every boy who walks beside you or talks to you a while is a beau.” She goes on to ask how boys and girls, from fifteen to twenty, should act toward each other.

Is it not strange that the freedom which young people enjoy nowadays should not include the liberty of a natural friendliness between young men and women, the right to enjoy each others society without the comments, criticism and conjectures of the entire community?

You much realize that one of the phases of adolescence is the curiosity regarding the other sex; tis is a normal condition, worthy of consideration and not to be laughed at. Unconsciously, each seeks his mate and an unfettered choice is impossible in a narrow-minded community.

In choosing a garment or piece of furniture one rarely takes the first that offered; others must be seen for the sake of comparison. How much more important is the choice of a life mate, and yet people would restrict that choice.

Of course, I shall be misunderstood, but again I maintain that the happiest condition for young people is a community where they may gather together for all wholesome diversions, and where a boy can walk home with one girl today and call on another tomorrow, without being considered a “flirt”, while his sister has like privileges, without reflections on her character.

If the parents are sensible, they see that no one young man absorbs all their daughter’s time, until he is an accepted lover. As for the gossips, remember the old motto, “They say! Let them say!” In other words, why care?

Farm Journal (August, 1914)

You may also enjoy these previous posts that contained advice from Aunt Harriet:

What Did Wedding and Engagement Rings Cost A Hundred Years Ago?

How Much Should a Man Spend on a Date? Hundred-Year-Old Advice

Hundred-year-old Advice Column: Heart Problems by “Aunt Harriet”

19 Responses

  1. I like “Aunt Harriet!” She is more sensible and open-minded than many  people, even today. Certainly her advice makes more sense than those who would criticize a grown woman like myself who is still single because she hasn’t yet found a person who is trustworthy, kind, thoughtful, respectful, and who shares similar outlook, values, and life objectives. And whose feelings for me are mutual! Glad to know that not everyone thinks or has thought the goal is simply to be married to anyone available, rather than to find a suitable and mutually-agreeable partner in life!

    • It’s really interesting to see how women were portrayed a hundred years ago. Sometimes authors, like “Aunt Harriet” seem fairly open minded and other authors seem frighteningly closed minded. I’m currently working a post for tomorrow that is based on something in a 1914 issue Good Housekeeping–and I’m realizing that back then Good Housekeeping tended to take a more forward-thinking perspective toward women’s issues than Ladies Home Journal. I’m exactly sure why, but I find it interesting how different magazines tended to have different viewpoints.

  2. Timeless advice.

  3. Oooh…when I saw the title of your post, I thought Grandma might have some “news” for us….

  4. I’m thinking of the song in the musical “Oklahoma”, as the town gets ready for courting at the picnic, when one of the girls sings “I’m Just a Girl that Can’t Say ‘No'”, to kissing, that is. Or, is it Elvis singing, “Little Sister, don’t you do like your Big Sister done.” (kiss and run, that is). Of course, notice that women is the one at fault in both of these songs… guess, men must of written them.
    Oscar

    • I often think of Oklahoma when writing posts. Even though it is about a different region of the US, it is about the same time period and there are many similarities (for example, Oklahoma has a box social, and Grandma wrote about attending several box socials).

  5. Right on, Aunt Harriet! I LOVE that she says girls should have the same privileges as boys in interacting with multiple members of the opposite sex! I didn’t expect such open-mindedness . . .

  6. What progressive advice and in the Farm Journal too! Of course WW1 is just around the corner and that will change societal rules around inter relations completely.

  7. Why care indeed! Love this old article Sheryl!
    Diana xo

  8. ‘How should boys and girls – or men and women – act toward each other?” This is a question I have never been able to answer satisfactorily. Where does natural friendliness cross the line and become flirting? I wish I knew a workable answer, but my guess is that each person has his or her own set of “rules” about what is platonic or romantic…

  9. This is actually a great article and amazing viewpoint for the time.

  10. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that much open-mindedness either! Too bad Aunt Harriet isn’t still around to give out more advice like that. Glad I stumbled upon your blog — and congrats on winning that cute little vintage towel from KerryCan! =)

  11. A very open minded viewpoint. I was surprised.

  12. Good advice even today!

  13. Aunt Harriet was with it! More so than many are today!

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