Grip Weather: 1914 Shoe Store Advertisement

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

Monday, March 30, 1914:  Went to Watsontown this afternoon. Ma’s on the sick list. I was to get some medicine.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (March 27, 1914)

Source: Milton Evening Standard (March 27, 1914)

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

Did Grandma’s mother have the grip? With all of the wet and gloomy March weather, maybe her feet got wet, and she caught the grip. She should have gone to Marsh’s Shoe Store in nearby Milton and bought some new shoes that would have kept her feet dry.

Went to an Entertainment

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

Tuesday, February 3, 1914:  We went to an entertainment in Watsontown this evening. At first I doubted whether we would really get there. It was inclined to be rainy. T’was very good, but I missed part of it because we occupied a back seat.

Here's a Watsontown Opera House Ticket. I'm not sure what year it is from.

Here’s a Watsontown Opera House Ticket. I’m not sure what year it is from.

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

Hmm . . . missed part of the show?  Who was “we”? . . . Since Grandma often did things with her sister Ruth, probably the two of them went to town, but the entry doesn’t really say that.

And, what was the “entertainment”? . . . a movie? . . . a variety show. . . a play? . . . a lecture?

Throughout the diary Grandma has only gone to movies and other “entertainments” occasionally—but only 10 days earlier, on January 24, Grandma went to a movie in Watsontown.

Grandma seems to be having a fun winter. Her social life was the busiest it’s been since she graduated from high school.

Christmas Eve Service at the Lutheran Church

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

Wednesday, December 24, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning with Pa on the big wagon. This trip finished my Xmas shopping.

Ruth and I went up to McEwensville this evening to attend the Christmas services in the Lutheran Church. Was pretty dark coming home. Discovered on the way that I had left my umbrella behind me. Hope I get it again.

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

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

Grandma generally attended the Baptist Church, but Messiah Lutheran Church in McEwensville apparently held a Christmas Eve service each year that community members attended. Grandma also attended the Christmas Eve services at the Lutheran Church in 1911.

(An aside: Grandma’s future husband, Raymond Swartz, attended Messiah Lutheran Church—though he and Grandma weren’t yet an item when this diary entry was written.)

Christmas is a time for memories. I’m going to reprint part of the post that I did on Christmas Eve, 2011 below. It’s equally relevant this year, and I thought that you might enjoy reading (or rereading) it.


When I was a child I regularly went to candlelight services at Messiah Lutheran Church  — the same church Grandma attended on Christmas Eve a hundred years ago.  I wonder if the services have changed much over the years.

In the middle part of the last century, I remember singing wonderful old-time carols at the candlelight service —We Three Kings, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels,  . .. . ..

We’d end with Silent Night after all of the lights had been extinguished except for the candles we were lighting.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know why, but I have strong memories of one year when an elderly woman didn’t extinguish her candle at the end of the service, and took the flickering light out into the cold night.

I remember asking my mother why the woman didn’t follow the directions—and my mother said that the old lady was remembering Christmas’s from long ago and that we should let her be.  I looked at the woman and could see how happy she looked as her face was illuminated by the flickering light.

I hope that I have equally wonderful memories of Christamases past when I am her age.

Left with All the Milking

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

Monday, December 15, 1913:  Ruthie left for Sunbury this morning, also left me all the milking, but I’m pretty hardened to that.

Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

Row 1: Rachel Oakes (middle), Blanche Bryson (right). Row 2: Ruth Muffly (left) Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

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

Grandma and her sister Ruth typically shared the milking chore—and when one of the sister’s went somewhere, the other had to do all of the work.

Is there a bit of annoyance in this diary entry? . . perhaps  Ruth missed milkings more frequently than Grandma.

Ruth was a teacher at a nearby one-room school house.  I think that she went to Sunbury to attend a teacher’s meeting.

Schools had longer Christmas breaks back then –and teachers sometimes attended trainings during part of the break. Sunbury is the county seat of Northumberland County, and is located about 15 miles from McEwensville.

Ruth had also  gone to Sunbury in December of the previous year:

Our dearest Ruth left for Sunbury this morning and my heart is rather sad.

December 16, 1912

There is a photo in The History of the McEwensville Schools 1800-1958 of Ruth and the other 11 women who attended a teachers’ meeting in Sunbury in 1913. I’m not sure whether the photo was taken at the December meeting or whether it was taken at an earlier teacher’s meeting in Sunbury that took place in May.

The other two women identified in the photo were Rachel Oakes and Blanche Bryson. Both are mentioned in the diary. They were friends of Grandma and Ruth—as well as teachers.  You may enjoy these previous posts about Blanche Bryson:

Blanche and Margaret Bryson

My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm

Visited Old High School

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

Friday, December 12, 1913:  Not as a pupil, but as a visitor, I entered again the dear old M.H.S. this afternoon. The school room looked the same as in those by gone days when I myself was a pupil and a blockhead (sorry to say, but I am the latter yet.)

Recent photo of building that once housed McEwensville High School

Recent photo of building that once housed McEwensville High School

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

Grandma graduated from McEwensville High School the previous spring. She probably went back to the school to see a Christmas show put on by the students.  In previous years Grandma participated in the shows. For example, on December 15, 1911 she wrote:

Our entertainment is over at last. That dialogue went off alright. I didn’t forget any of my part although I was rather doubtful about it. . .

The McEwensville Schools had a high school on the second floor and a primary school on the first floor. The show may have included students from both schools. If so, Grandma’s little brother Jimmie probably was in the show.



You ARE NOT a blockhead! Don’t put yourself down.

PLEASE—THINK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOURSELF.  You are darn smart—I can tell that even a hundred years later from reading your diary.

Went to Town and Admired the Xmas Fixings

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

Thursday, December 11, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this afternoon. Admired the Xmas fixings and other things, but I’m not going Xmas shopping until next week. Then I won’t have to keep them so long.


Recent photo of downtown Watsontown. In my mind I can see a bustling street filled with holiday shoppers admiring all the fixings.

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

Watsontown is a nearby town that was a little larger than McEwensville.

Watsontown is a charming town, but the downtown area is very quiet today. It was a little busier when I was a child, but it wasn’t a major shopping destination. In some ways, it’s difficult to imagine a time when Watsontown had “Xmas fixings” worth admiring.

Was It More Likely to Rain on Sundays?

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

Sunday, November 16, 1913: So disappointing, I wanted to wear my new hat to church this afternoon, but it was raining, and so I wore my old faithful brown hat that the water can’t hurt. I have a cold now for a change. I cough, sneeze, and pinch my nose.

Precipitation.Williamsport.1Data source: Climate Zone

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


It’s too bad that you couldn’t wear your new black velvet hat that was trimmed with a rose ribbon and pink velvet flowers.


It seems like there have been a lot of diary entries where Grandma wrote that it rained on a Sunday. Was it more likely to rain on Sundays than on other days of the week?

Grandma’s wrote that it rained on Sunday, September 21, 1913 and Sunday, October 19, 1913. So it rained about one Sunday a month during Fall, 1913. In other words, it rained one Sunday out of every four or five.

I then found some current climate data for the nearby town on Williamsport PA on the Climate Zone website—and was surprised to discover that in a typical year that there is 0.01 inch or more of precipitation on 10 days in September, 10 days in October, and 12 days in November.

(It really doesn’t seem like it rains on 1 out of every 3 days when I’m in Pennsylvania, but maybe I’d barely notice the rain on days when there was just a little bit and it fell in the middle of the night.)

Conclusion—Assuming the number of days with precipitation has been about the same across the last hundred years and that Grandma mentioned every Sunday when it rained, it looks like it was less likely to rain on  Sundays than on other days of the week during  Fall, 1913.


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