Photo of Happy Women

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

Thursday, September 3, 1914:  My pictures arrived this morning. I was more than satisfied with the result and could hardly keep my eyes off of them the whole day. One picture especially is a beauty. It is a picture of the girls sitting on the rocks, and all three are laughing.

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order; of the women)

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order of the women)

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

I’m only aware of one photo that Grandma took which still exists, and I find it amazing that Grandma again mentioned it in the diary. Grandma must have had an uncanny sense from the moment she took the photo during the trip to Niagara Falls that it was going to be special. On August 18, 1914 she wrote:

Arrived at the hotel. We rubbed up a little and started out again to the falls a second time. We lingered a long time, loath to leave the spot. I took a shot at the girls sitting on the rocks. The funny part of it was, they sat so nice and quiet, after I had pressed the button, and could hardly believe the picture had been taken.

Grandma apparently liked the photo enough to frame it, which probably facilitated its survival across the years. My cousin Alice now has the photo. I’m going to repost a portion of what Alice wrote about it:

. . . I love the picture so much. It still hangs in my office and I enjoy looking at it every day. Everyone looks so happy.

And, I tingle when I think about how the picture has brightened people’s lives for a hundred years. Grandma enjoyed looking at the happy faces a hundred years ago, and Alice equally enjoys looking at them now.

A Photo That Grandma Took!

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

Tuesday, August 18, 1914:  Don’t just know the time we got up at this morning, but it wasn’t very early. We went to the station where we secured tickets for the trip around the gorge. After we had gone several squares we caught a glimpse of the Niagara River, and soon afterwards we were looking upon the majestic beauty of the Niagara Falls. The falls seen from Goat Island. It was indescribable. No pen of mine can ever tell the grandeur of that place. I stood and looked and was thrilled with the beauty of it all. Surely the Great God above us has wrought many beautiful things. We next saw the Horseshoe Falls, and the mist coming up from below. I took my first picture of the girls on a bridge nearby. We traveled on until we reached the Canadian side. We stopped there were we entered some kind of a building. After climbing about four flights of stairs, we came out on a balcony. From there we could obtain a view of both falls. We then went down again, donned rubber coats and overshoes and proceeded by way of an elevator to an underground tunnel. We came out under the fall at three different places. The roar was deafening, but we had lots of fun. When we came back, we had our pictures taken in our rubber costumes.

We got back to the hotel in the early part of the afternoon after having visited Queenstown Heights. I was impressed with Brock’s monument. Took two pictures there, and Alma took one. The ride along the river was a lovely one, while the rapids took up all my attention.

Arrived at the hotel. We rubbed up a little and started out again to the falls a second time. We lingered a long time, loath to leave the spot. I took a shot at the girls sitting on the rocks. The funny part of it was, they sat so nice and quiet, after I had pressed the button, and could hardly believe the picture had been taken.

We went out to the movies this evening. One was so dreadfully funny. My sides fairly ached from laughing. We came back to the hotel and packed up.

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order; of the women)

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; uncertain of the order of the women)

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

What an amazing trip! I’m going to focus on one small part of what Grandma wrote because I think that it is one of the most amazing parts of the diary. My cousin Alice Chepiga actually has one of the photos mentioned in this entry—the one of the girls sitting on the rocks.

Here is Alice’s story:

My Dad and I were cleaning out sheds on our farm outside of McEwensville, probably around the summer of 1977 or 1978. That is when we found the picture. I had just bought my first house and was delighted to have some pictures to hang. There were several other pictures from the Muffly and Swartz family.

I love the picture so much. It still hangs in my office and I enjoy looking at it every day. Everyone looks so happy.

Over the Hill and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go

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

Friday, November 24, 1911: Instead of having classes all day today we took an hour off and had something more interesting which was reciting and the like. I said a recitation that I said last year. Of course it was recognized at once. I wish we would have something like this every month at least. It relieves the monotony.

Recent photo of the house that Grandma lived in during her later years. When I was a child I lived on a farm on the other side of the hill from this house.

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

In 1911 Thanksgiving was on the very last day in the month—November 30.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family—sharing memories and telling the old family stories. So on this Thanksgiving Day in 2011, I’d like to share my memories of Thanksgiving when I was a child. I’m thinking back to a time about midway between when Grandma kept her diary and now.

Each Thanksgiving, a little after noon, my family piled into our blue Dodge Polara—and Dad drove us the mile or so across the hill to Grandma’s house while my brother and I sang at the top of our lungs:

Over the hill and through the woods

To Grandmother’s house we go.

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the hill and through the woods

To Grandmother’s house we go.

For this is Thanksgiving Day.

When we got to Grandma’s house my brother and I rushed inside to see all of our cousins. I told the rest of my Thanksgiving day story in a previous post.  Click the link below to read it.

Thanksgiving in the Den

You might also enjoy reading (or re-reading) the memories of other descendents of Grandma.

Stu: Peanut Butter Cookies, Practical Jokes, Farm Cats, Etc.

Anne Marie: Porch Railings, Flowers, Reading, and More Practical Jokes

Eleanor: Brown Butter Macaroni

Carl: Butchering, Sausage, and the Light Plant

Harold:  “Whispering to Myself”

If any of you have memories of Grandma you’d like to share, let me know and I’d be happy to post them.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Teaching Farm Kids the Value of Money

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

Monday, September 25, 1911:  Our old teacher Mr. Northrop came back to teach school today. I like him better than the substitute we had. Sold Mollie’s calf today. Weighed 145 lbs. Came to $10.87. Quite a vast sum to get all at once. Guess I’ll save it and get a watch or something as useful.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

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

Mollie was a cow that Grandma owned. The calf was a little over a month old. (It was born on August 19.)

It’s uncanny—but this diary entry brings back strong memories of my own childhood.  It’s amazing how some child rearing practices go forward from one generation to the next.  . . .

My parents taught me about money by enabling me to become the owner of a cow. I’m now guessing that my father was taught the value of money by becoming the owner of a cow—just as his mother (Grandma) had before him.

When I was 9 or 10 I joined a 4-H club—and wanted to show a calf. My father said that I could buy a calf from him for $25. I only received a dollar a week allowance—and did not have anything close to $25. So he got an envelope out, labeled it “Sheryl’s calf”, and said that I should put half of my allowance into it each week. He then stuck the envelope in a cubby hole of his large roll-top desk.

Every week, I’d pull the envelope out and put two quarters into it. Occasionally I’d count the money to see how close I was to $25. Sometimes I’d ask my parents if I could exchange some of the quarters in the envelope for dollar bills. And then later I exchanged dollars for five- or ten-dollar bills.

The money accumulated and in less than a year I owned my own calf named Dolly. After Dolly grew into a cow, she had calves of her own. If it was a male calf, the calf was sold and I received the money. If it was a female calf it was mine—and the size of my personal herd grew.

Porch Railings, Flowers, Reading, and More Practical Jokes

Thursday, April 27, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry again today I’m going to share some memories of my cousin (and Grandma’s granddaughter) Anne Marie:

Michael, Donna Marie, and I loved to pop in on Grandma when we were outside playing as kids. We’d tell her that we needed some of her “pink pills for pale people” as she referred to them. Do you remember those pink candies that were the color and the taste of  “pepto-bismol”?  Well, we loved them and Grandma never failed to treat us to them.

Photo from last summer of the house that Grandma lived in during her later years.

This is a really embarrassing one but very true.  One afternoon I was crawling around on Grandma’s porch pretending I was a cow (as if I didn’t already have enough dealings with cows) and decided the wrought iron railing that surrounded her porch would make great “cow stalls” so I stuck my head between two of them.  Well, you know what happened next–of course my head didn’t come back out as easily as it had gone in due to those things on the side of one’s head called ears. Grandma tried unsuccessfully numerous times to get my head out and then started to panic. She ran for mom who quickly came to my aid (with a “for Pete’s sake” look on her face).  Mom applied some pressure to the bars and quickly freed my head. Grandma was greatly relieved, and I was permanently mortified and remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

As a child, I always loved Grandma’s flowers and was always asking her questions about them.  She is the one that taught me the various names and instructed me on planting and watering them. Soon after, I had my own little flower bed and it’s still one of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer.

Grandma was an avid reader and she spent many hours on her porch glider with a book in hand and her bible always laid open on her kitchen table.

Grandma also loved to play jokes on us. One day she told me she could do something with her teeth that I couldn’t do with mine.  Of course, I found this quite hard to believe so I asked her to show me.  No sooner had I made the request than she grabbed hold of her dentures and pulled them out of her mouth and dangled them in front of my face.  Needless to say, I was awe struck and horrified at the same time as I’d never known of the existence of dentures.  I must have had quite the look on my face, as she laughed and laughed at my expression.

One April Fools Day she took an old newspaper from her basement and carefully glued all of the pages together and quietly placed it in our newspaper box. I can still hear Mom laughing when she tried to read the paper that day and it didn’t take her long to figure out who the prankster was.

One day Grandma arrived at our door with a box of candy–those boxes that have each piece of chocolate individually wrapped.  It was actually an old candy box that still contained all of the wrappers. She placed black checkers in each wrapper and was quite pleased with the joke she played on me and my siblings.

Anne Marie Satteson

Thanksgivings in the Den

Since the teen-ager who became my grandmother didn’t write a diary entry again today, I’ll continue sharing memories of Grandma in her later years.

Yesterday cousin Stu wrote, “I remember Thanksgivings at her house, with her getting up in the small hours to start the turkey, and the kids (at least, the younger ones) at the round table in Grandpa’s study.”

Stu’s memory jogged memories that I have of eating at the round table. I guess this might not be exactly the right time of year to discuss Thanksgiving memories, but Easter memories bring back memories of other holidays, so here’s a Thanksgiving memory–

After their children were grown Grandma and Grandpa Swartz built a small brick bungalow on my uncle’s farm. It had a large kitchen—and at Thanksgiving Grandma brought extra tables into the room to make a long table that extended from one end of the kitchen to the other.

But the table wasn’t large enough to hold all of Grandma’s children, their spouses, and the grandchildren—so another table was set up in the den. Grandchildren old enough to eat without adult assistance—yet not old enough to sit nicely at the adult table—were relegated to the table in the den.

I really wanted to be big enough to eat with the adults like some of my older cousins, but was always assigned to the den.

Aunts periodically rotated dishes between the kitchen and the den. But after the exchange was made, the DOOR WOULD BE SHUT. . . AND, THEN some of my more imaginative cousins would come up with all sorts of great ideas.

I remember one year we all crammed into a closet in the den to see how many people would fit. One cousin stayed outside, slammed the door shut—and held the rest of us captive in the dark. We screamed—and maybe an adult came from the kitchen to see what was the problem—though I have no memory of any adults coming to our rescue and think that we remained imprisoned in the stuffy darkness until my cousin tired of holding the door.

Then one year, one of my younger cousins—who in previous years had occupied a high chair in the kitchen— was deemed old enough to move to the den, and I was deemed mature enough to move to the kitchen.

I felt so grown up—but, good grief, the conversation around that long table in the kitchen was so boring. When I heard distant screams emanating from the den I longed for the good old days.

Peanut Butter Cookies, Practical Jokes, Farm Cats, Etc.

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry again today I’m going to share some memories of my cousin (and Grandma’s grandson) Stu:

My recollection of Grandma was mostly as an elderly woman. I remember her peanut butter cookies with fondness.  I remember Thanksgivings at her house, with her getting up in the small hours to start the turkey, and the kids (at least, the younger ones) at the round table in Grandpa’s study. It’s sobering to think that at those Thanksgivings in the early 60′s, she was only about 10 years older than we are now.  The conveyor of life moves on, and us with it.

I remember her wicked delight in practical jokes. The bucket of water carefully balanced on the door was a favorite. Or her ongoing wars with farm cats.  Or that she had a more-or-less full set of 14 cloth calendars, which she’d recycle depending on the year.

Stu Kurtz

One of the things that I’ve most enjoyed as I’ve worked on this blog is the opportunity to reconnect with relatives.  And, as the years pass and the “conveyor of life moves on” I’ve discovered that it feels good to remember (or in some cases discover) some of those who were earlier on that conveyor.

One of my biggest surprises has been how many people remember some of the same smallest details about Grandma’s life.

In addition to the memory that is in the box above, Stu had another sentence in his email. It was about the cloth calendars and said, “This came up recently, and I can’t remember if it was your blog, or just Mom and I reminiscing.”  The cloth calendars were in this blog—there was a posting on them on January 29.

I remember thinking when I wrote that post that cloth calendars were a silly thing to write about—yet I strongly connected them with Grandma. It’s fun to hear that others also remembered them—and that the calendar entry generated conversations totally outside of this blog. Stu reminisced about them with his mother; my children and I discussed them.

Stu’s mention of Thanksgiving at the round table in Grandpa’s study also brought back memories. Tomorrow, I’ll describe those Thanksgivings a bit more.

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