Adapt Food to Climate

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

Wednesday, June 17, 1914:  Don’t have anything for today.

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)

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

Grandma was probably still picking strawberries for a neighbor—and was probably too exhausted to write anything in the diary.

Since Grandma didn’t write much, I thought you might enjoy some quotes from an article in the June, 1914 issue of Good Housekeeping about how people living in cold climates should eat fattier foods in the winter than in the summer.

The sugars and starches may be regarded as partly burned, while the extent of the burning in the fats and oils is extremely slight. For this reason the fats and oils are distinctively heat formers, furnishing the maximum degree of heat and energy during the processes of combustion in the various tissues of the body. A kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of sugars or starches will furnish four thousand calories (units) of energy, while a kilogram of fats or oils will furnish nine thousand, three hundred units of energy.

As a consequence fats and oils are consumed in increasingly large quantities as the temperature of the environment falls. Near the equator, where the average temperature is but little below that of the blood itself, there is little loss of heat by radiation from the human body, and hence those elements which particularly produce heat are required in minimum quantity. But as we approach the northern limit of human habitation, there the average temperatures of the year are below the freezing-point of water, the radiation of heat from the body is greatly increased and the requirement of fat in the food is correspondingly greater.

There is reason to believe that, especially during the cold months, it would be a wise dietetic practice if the people of our country would consume a larger quantify of oil and less sugar and starch. In the warm months, when succulent vegetables are fruits are abundant, the fat content of the ration might well be diminished.

Hmm. . . I wonder if the Muffly’s used this philosophy when planning meals. I can remember when I was a child that we ate more meat in the winter; and had lots of strawberry shortcake. . . and black raspberry shortcake. . . and cherry pudding for the main course during the summer months.

Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises

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

Wednesday, June 3, 1914:  Nothing doing.

Source: Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911)

Source: Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911)

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


You seem so bored. I really hate to suggest it because you do so much hard physical labor—but maybe you’d feel a little better if you did a few exercises.

Here are the directions in a hundred-year-old book for doing Side Bend Exercises—though the book calls them Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises (Good grief—that’s a mouthful. I wonder if that’s what people actually called this exercise back then.)

Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises (Figs. 49, 50)

First Position—Stand with the feet nearly together and the arms extended above the head; the arms are relaxed at the wrists and elbows, so that a slightly curved line is formed as is shown in the figure. First sway to the left, bending at the waist line as far as possible, and return to the original position.

trunk exercise 2

Second Position—The attitude is the same as in the first position; sway to the right in the same manner.

These exercises strengthen the muscles on the sides of the abdomen and the lower part of the back , and are an excellent means to reduce the size of the waist in case of corpulency.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

You might also enjoy this previous post:

Hundred-year-old Exercise for Shoulders and Back

Hundred-year-old Tips for Buying Shoes that Fit

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

Friday, May 29, 1914:  Just like some other days.

Picture Source: Red Cross Shoe Ad in Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Picture Source: Red Cross Shoe Ad in Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

My feet hurt! A few days ago I wore some new shoes—and ended up with terrible blisters. This hundred-old-information about how to select shoes resonated with me—and gave me clues about what was wrong with my shoes. (I think they are too wide and my foot is slipping forward.)

The Shoe

The style of the shoe is very closely related to the corset in the amount of harm it is capable of doing. The compression of the foot interferes with the circulation, compresses the nerves, weakens muscles and ligaments which should support the arch, and is the prolific source of corns, bunions, weak ankles, and “flat” foot.

The front part of the sole must be so designed that the great toe will retain its normal position. In many shoes the great toe is forced out of its natural position toward the middle of the sole instead of pointing straight forward. This leads to a malformation of the foot and ingrowing toe-nails.

The front part of the upper leather must be broad enough for the free movement of all the toes in walking; when it does not give room enough for the toes to spread outward and forward in walking they are bent on themselves. This makes the descent of hills and all active exercise and games very painful. Tight leather uppers are also productive of corns.

The shoe should be slightly longer than the foot, and sufficiently broad for the foot to spread in walking; but, at the same time, the shoe must fit snugly about the heal and instep, or else the foot will slip forward in walking, and all the evil effects of too short a shoe will result.


The heel must be broad and low. High heels force the foot to keep perpetually and unnaturally on the stretch; if they are worn in early youth, they may bring about permanent deformity of the skeleton and the foot.

Moreover, the high heel interferes with the natural walk, in which the pressure of the foot on the ground passes from the heel to the toes. The high heel requires that the front of the foot should be set down first instead of the heel. The result is an awkward tripping gait and a short step, which is very fatiguing,

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

Average Weight and Height of Babies in 1914

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

Thursday, May 21, 1914: Mother was with Besse today. I dreaded it when she came home for I was afraid she would bring bad news, but no, they filled me with glad anticipations.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

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

Grandma’s married sister Besse gave birth to a daughter the previous day. Besse lived in the nearby town of Watsontown. She had a baby that died in 1912, and Grandma was very worried about this infant.

I wonder if the baby was born prematurely, and was very small. Here’s what Ladies Home Journal had to say in 1914 about the characteristics of “normal” babies:

The Normal Baby

Every mother is anxious for a normal baby, but many mothers, do not know just what a normal baby should be like. Variations are always found in every human being, but the following measurements given by Dr. L.E. Holt in his large book, “Diseases of Infancy and Childhood,” are now taken as the standard for the normal baby.

The weights are taken without any clothing. The height is taken by placing the baby on a perfectly flat surface like a table, and having some one hold the child’s knee down so that he lies out straight, then taking a tape-measure and measuring from the top of his head to the bottom of his foot, holding the tape line absolutely straight.

The chest is measured by means of a tape line passed directly over the nipples around the child’s body and midway between full inspiration and full expiration. The head measurement is taken directly around the circumference of the head, over the forehead and occipital bone.

Some other points of interest in the development of the normal baby are the following: head held erect if trunk is supported during the fourth month. Sit alone for a few minutes about seven months of age. In the ninth or the tenth month the baby will usually attempt to bear his weight on his feet. When ten or eleven months old he often stands alone with slight help. Makes first attempt to walk at twelve or thirteen months. The baby must not be urged to do any of these things; let him alone to develop naturally.

The teeth are always of interest; here is the way the average normal baby cuts his first set of teeth: Two lower central incisors, 6 to 9 months; four upper incisors, 8 to 12 months; four canines, 18 to 24 months; four posterior molars, 24 to 30 months.

At 1 year a child should have 6 teeth; at 1 1/2 years, 12 teeth; at 2 years, 16 teeth; at 2 1/2 years, 20 teeth.

The “soft spot” on fontanel on top of the head closes with the average normal baby at eighteen months, but often varies greatly.

Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

The Effect of Weather on Health

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

Monday, April 20, 1914:  There wasn’t much coming this way except the rain.


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

This was the second rainy day in a row. According to a book published in 1914, The Principles of Hygiene by D.H. Bergey, MD, there was a relationship between weather and health.

The Influence of Precipitation on Health

The immediate effect of a fall of rain is to cleanse and purify the air from dust of all sorts, organic and inorganic, and from micro-organisms. So far the influence of rain is decidedly beneficial to health; but when rainfall is so excessive as largely to increase the humidity of the air, its hygienic effect becomes merged in that of humidity.

The Influence of Humidity on Health

If the relative humidity be increased, there will be a hindrance to the escape of water from the body; and when this condition is combined with a high temperature the heat is far more oppressive than when the atmosphere is dry and allows free evaporation. On the other hand, a moist, cold atmosphere is far more distressing than when the air is dry, and there is but little movement.

The Effects of Wind Upon Health

It is complex and not well defined how wind affects health. All wind favors evaporation, and therefore loss of heat from the body. Winds that are and moist are mild and relaxing; dry, cool winds are bracing; but cold winds are penetrating, and considered dangerous to persons of delicate constitutions.

Sunlight as a Disinfectant

Sunlight is an efficient disinfectant. This agent is constantly acting and, no doubt, removes most of the detrimental agents on surfaces exposed to the sun. Most bacteria grow best in the dark.


Doctor Not at Home

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

Thursday, March 26, 1914:  Walked to Watsontown this afternoon with the expectation of having my nose doctored, but the doctor wasn’t at home.



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

Hmm. . . what was the problem? . . . stuffy nose? . . .sinus infection? . . . something else?
This diary entry brings back memories of similar experiences I had when I was a child. I can remember visiting two Watsontown doctors—Dr. Persing and Dr. Yannaconne—when I had a cold or other minor ailment.

Both had offices in their homes. No appointment needed—just stop by during office hours and wait your turn. And, the medicines or salves they gave me always cured whatever ailed me. . . .

Tonsillectomies a Hundred Years Ago

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

Wednesday, March 11, 1914:    Pa took us into town this morning to take the train for mother went along with me. Had never been to Williamsport before and rather enjoyed the trip, going up anyway. You may be sure I took in all the sights.

After we arrived in the city we went directly to the specialist’s office; there the operation was performed.

Was given chloroform and after being under its influence for about half an hour I came to. Ma told me afterwards that I yelled and groaned like everything, so it must have hurt some. I soon became conscious of a very sore throat. Two tonsils had been removed and an adenoid. Was soon able to get up and take a walk with Ma. Arrived home safely. Oh my, the swallowing process is terrible.

Recent picture of Williamsport (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Recent picture of Williamsport (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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

I’m amazed that Grandma had never previously been to Williamsport. It is only about 20 miles from McEwensville—though the train would have had to go through some mountains to get there.

I’m also surprised that Grandma apparently never visited the doctor who removed her tonsils prior to the date of the surgery.

Tonsillectomies apparently were very popular a hundred years ago.I even found a book published in 1914 called Adenoids and Kindred Perils of School Life by D.T. Atkinson, M.D.  Here are some quotes and pictures:

Enlarged tonsils and adenoid growths are responsible for many cases of persistent cough. Persons who breathe through their mouths carry into the larynx, twenty times or so a minute, a current of air which has not been freed from dust by the filtering process of the nose, and which is not moistened.

The consequences are that the larynx is kept dry and irritated and responds rapidly to atmospheric changes. Some authorities on the throat have reached the conclusion that in mouth breathing cases there is kept up a mild, almost unnoticed chronic inflammation of the larynx which becomes aggravated under the influence of exposure to cold or irritation from dust. In children with adenoids an almost constant “cold” in the head exists during the winter months.

The adenoid operation, though performed by a limited number of surgeons in different parts of the world, did not come into general use until a few years ago. Both parents and physicians recognize now that mouth breathing is a condition resulting from disease, that it is not a habit and that a child in a normal condition will not breathe through its mouth.  . .



I don’t remember Grandma being ill very often during the winter of 1913-14. (She had more colds the previous winter.) I wonder why she decided to have her tonsils removed.


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