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.

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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:

Grandma—

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.

Fairs A Hundred Years Ago

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

Wednesday, October 1, 1913:

October comes with the colder days.

Dresses the trees in gayest attire.

Garners the harvest in fields far and near

Into great heaps that all may admire.

This is Fair Week but not so the weather. Not going this year, so I won’t take it as hard as some.

Milton.Fairground_ferris_wheel_Milton Fairgrounds (This picture may have been taken a few years after Grandma wrote this diary entry). Photo source: Milton History. org.  Used. with permission.

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

Grandma –

Why aren’t you going to the Milton Fair? You had so much fun last year and even saw an airplane:

Saw a flying machine whirling aloft in the air for at least 10 minutes. I think twas quite a sight to see.

October 3, 1912

There are so many reasons people attend fairs. Here’s what the October, 1913 issue of Farm Journal said about the purpose of fairs:

The word fair, as now used in America, has lost much of its Old world meaning. In this country the fair, whether we call it a world’s fair or a state fair, a county fair or district fair, is an industrial exhibition. And this is as it should be.

It places the fair on a strictly business basis; it makes of it a practical, helpful thing. Conducted on an industrial, practical line, the fair is designed to help both the farmer and the city resident. It is the common meeting ground of all classes. At the fair the man who produces and the man who buys, the grower and the manufacturer, get together. They learn what each is capable of doing, and ascertain each other’s need.

It is remarkable how much benefit we can get out of the fair when we attend filled with a desire to learn—to gain something worthwhile.

The farmer who is seen “taking notes” at a fair—jotting down the name of this big apple, the weight of that monster pumpkin; who writes down all the information he can get about caring for hogs, poultry raising, feeding; who investigates the new kinds of machinery, and secures all available figures about up-to-date methods—that farmer will make his trip to the fair a valuable thing. He can do this and still have plenty of time to accompany his family to the side show, to take a whirl on the merry-go-round, or throw a ball at the doll babies.

Monthly Poem

For information about the monthly poems sees this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

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1913 Sunbury Teachers’ Meeting

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

Friday, May 2, 1913:  Dear old Ruthie went to Sunbury this morning and isn’t coming home until tomorrow night. Rather miss the kid, too. I’m afraid I’ll soon have to begin to watch cows for that time is now at hand.

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:

I can’t believe it, but I may know why Grandma’s sister Ruth went to Sunbury. I think it was to attend a teachers’ meeting.

Sometimes I’m amazed how the pieces fit together. There is a photo in The History of the McEwensville Schools 1800-1958 of 12 women who attended a teachers meeting in Sunbury in 1913. One of them is Ruth Muffly—so I’m speculating that the reason she went to Sunbury on this date was to attend that meeting.

Ruth was a teacher at a nearby one-room school-house. The other two women who were 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.

Sunbury is about 15 miles from McEwensville, and it is the county seat of Northumberland county. The meeting probably was held to provide information and professional development for the teachers at many small schools scattered across the county.

Ruth wasn’t exactly a kid–she was 21 and three years older than Grandma.

Grandma often got annoyed with Ruth—but almost immediately missed her when she was gone. Was it because she had to do more work—or was it because she missed the companionship?

Maybe Grandma wished that Ruth was at home to help watch the cows. During previous summers Grandma often mentioned needing to watch the cows so that they didn’t escape from the pasture and get into the crops.

Memorizing Essay to Present at Graduation

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

Tuesday, April 8, 1913:  Am trying to learn my essay. I know about half of it.

commencement.program.1

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

Even though Grandma won’t graduate for another several weeks, I’m going to share her commencement program today since I think that she probably was trying to memorize an essay that she wrote for her graduation speech.

(The graduation program contains lots of interesting tidbits—and I plan to explore different facets of if in several upcoming posts. Today I’m just going to focus on Grandma’s speech.)

Grandma was probably trying to memorize the essay that she mentioned on March 21, 1913:

. . . Am tugging away at my old essay it is almost finished.

Her graduation essay was titled Relics of the Earth’s Past. I wonder how the topics were selected. Maybe it was a really interesting speech, but the topic sounds kind of boring to me.

Earlier in the year, Grandma had written about writing an essay on the Revolutionary War. The teacher told the class that the person who wrote the best essay would win  a 2 1/2  dollar gold piece. Based on the program, it appears Grandma didn’t win the gold piece—since J. Karl Watson did a graduation presentation titled, Valley Forge, A Dark Spot of the American Revolution.

Played Cards After Play Practice

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

Friday, January 31, 1913: We went to practice again this evening. I don’t know any more of my part than the first time we practiced. Ruth had to stay in turn after it was over to spend a few hours in card playing. I’m not much of a card player but I did learn to play one game.

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

Recent photo of the McEwensville Community Hall and picnic grove. The festival probably was held in this small park.

The play practice probably was held at the McEwensville Community Center. The building has been a community center for more than 100 years–and it had a wonderful stage. In recent years part of the stage has been converted into a storage area, but when I was a child I can remember it being a regular stage with lots of rows of curtains.  I took these pictures in 2011 when I attended a community pot luck picnic.

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It sounds like Grandma’s sister Ruth went along to the play practice.  Based upon a previous diary entry, I thought that the play was a class play and that the cast members were students who would be graduating in the spring.  On January 20, Grandma wrote:

Our class expects to have a swell blow-out one of these days. We’re going to give a play. . .

Ruth was two years older than Grandma—and a teacher at a one-room school house.  This entry makes it sound like Ruth was also in the play. Maybe it really was a community play rather than a class play—or maybe Ruth just accompanied Grandma so that Grandma wouldn’t need to walk to town in the dark by herself.

In any case, it sounds like the girls had fun socializing after play practice. It probably was an almost perfect Friday night.

Walked to Reunion in Turbotville

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

Sunday, January 19, 1913: A bright and beautiful dawn welcomed the approach of day. Ruth and I walked to Turbotville this morning to attend a family reunion. All of ‘em weren’t there. Had quite a pleasant time, but it would have been nicer if some more of the cousins had been there. We had our pictures taken out on the lawn. That walk home didn’t do me up, but I did get a terrific head-ache anyway.

Recent photo of road between McEwensville and Turbotville.

Recent photos of the road between McEwesnville and Turbotille. This picture was taken at the point where the road leaves McEwesnville.

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

Whew, it is probably about a five-mile walk—10 miles round trip– from the Muffly farm to Turbotville. Even on the nicest of days—in January or any other month– this sounds like a long, exhausting walk for Grandma and her sister Ruth.

This picture was taken This picture was taken midway between McEwensville and Turbotville.

This picture was taken midway between McEwensville and Turbotville.

Grandma’s maternal grandparents lived in Turbotville. Why didn’t Grandma’s mother go to the reunion to see her parents and siblings?

Turbotville

Turbotville

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