Should There be Streets and Avenues in the Suburbs?

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

Monday, October 19, 1914: << no entry>>

Picture source: Wikimedia Commons

Picture source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Sigh. . . Grandma didn’t again write anything a hundred years ago today; but I came across a fun opinion piece in the August, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal that I thought you might enjoy. Apparently suburbs were a relatively new concept back then, and some of the basics were still being figured out—like how to name the roads.

“Avenues” in the Suburbs

Can anyone give a good reason why we persist in creating “streets” and “avenues” in our new suburbs when what we are really creating are “Ways,” “Roads.” and “Lanes,” and should so name them.

We say when we move out to the suburbs that we do so because we want “to get out of the city,” and then we deliberately drag the nomenclature of the city with us. A “street” is essentially a word that we associate with a city thoroughfare: It is, in fact, according to a dictionary definition, “a public highway with buildings on one or both sides, in a city.”

An “avenue” is, according to dictionary authority, “a wide or principal street: a broad thoroughfare.” Now try to imagine any of the so-called “avenues” in our suburbs as “side or principal streets,” or “broad thoroughfares.” Perhaps you live on such an avenue: a “Maple Avenue,” say, a city block or two long and twenty feet wide! Would it not more truly reflect its real character and its surroundings had it been called “Mapleway,” or “Maple Road”? And, above all, should we not be using our language a little more correctly?

One progressive little community is taking hold of this erroneous nomenclature and has changed “Home Avenue” to “Homeway”: a one-block “Maple Avenue” has become what it is: “Mapleway,” bordered with maple trees, and “Chestnut Avenue” has become “Chestnut Lane.”

Why not be right instead of wrong in the use of the language, particularly when it is just as easy to be right?

Whew, the author got really carried away with the quotation marks. I got tired of typing them every time an “avenue”, “street,” or other “road” was mentioned.

Before and After Houses

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

Sunday, October 18, 1914: << no entry>>

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy some before and after pictures of houses in the August, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

House 12Bright yellow, walls, a black roof and a bright green porch roof was the riotous color scheme of the house above.

House 11Very slight alteration produced this summer home. All the flimsy filigree work was removed and the second-story porch with dignified white columns was added. Paint of a lovely ivory tine was chosen for the exterior walls.

 

Home  8As originally build this house presented an exterior about as plain and homely as one could find.

Home 9The second picture, however, shows how successfully the present owner has transformed it –and at very little expense. The roof was carried down to form the porch roof of an outdoor living-room. Colonial yellow paint and vines gave the finishing touches.

 

House 7This house is not really ugly, but certainly it is unattractive.

House 8Removing the roof, porch, and bay-window left a good foundation for the new house. The sun room at the left and the porte-cochere at the right give a breadth which tends to overcome the high stilted look it previously had. Repointing the stone work and the new roof complete the transformation.

 

October, 1914 Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine Cover

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

Friday, October 16, 1914: << no entry>>

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine October 1, 1914

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred-years-ago today, I thought you might enjoy seeing the cover of the October 1, 1914 issue of Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine.

The orange cover design with the picture of a woman (with lipstick ?) and two cows doesn’t quite work for me—but it may have been considered progressive at the time.

Hundred-year-old Polka Instructions

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

Thursday, October 15, 1914: << no entry>>

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

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

There was a hint in a diary entry last summer that Grandma may have had a boyfriend—and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’s having lots of fun (and is too busy to write in the diary).

Maybe Grandma went dancing. Here are directions in the October, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal for the polka:

Before I explain the polka it might be well to tell why I think it should be revived and modernized—not to take the place of the other dances so popular now, but to add variety to all dance programs. We have at present a leaning toward things old-fashioned. This is most noticeable in the quaintness of the fashionable woman’s attire. In fact my wife is wearing at parties the dress you see in these photos.

1914-10-38 b

Possibly the most important excuse for a revival and modernization of the polka is because it is easy to learn and so enjoyable to dance. In the polka you hop rather than slide, which exactly the opposite to the usual steps in our other present-day dances. The hop, if not exaggerated, is most graceful. The counting for this dance is 1 -2 – 2 – hop, 1 – 2- 3 – hop. You do the hop after the third step. . .

1914-10-38 c

The Canada Goose in a Hundred-Year-Old Book

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

Wednesday, October 14, 1914: << no entry>>

Source: The Bird Book (1914)

Source: The Bird Book (1914)

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

Fall is here. Some things haven’t changed much across the years. Did Grandma see any Canadian Geese flying South a hundred years ago today?

Here’s what a book published in 1914 had to say about the Canada Goose.

Canada Goose

Range: The whole of North America, breeding from northern United States northward, and wintering in the southern parts of the United States. Its familiar “honk” and V-shaped formation in which the flocks migrate is always an object of interest to everyone.

The Bird Book  by Chester A. Reed

Blister on Finger

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

Monday, October 12, 1914:  Nothing much doing. Have a blister on my finger from giving it too much exercise. Adieu till something happens as the days go by.DSC06516

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

LOL Grandma—I love your sense of humor, but PLEASE find something worthwhile to write soon. Writing in your diary may be losing meaning for you, but we hang on every word you write and need to hear your daily words.

Picture Taken Under Apple Tree

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

Sunday, October 11, 1914:  Went to Sunday school this morning. Carrie was over this afternoon, and we had our pictures taken under an apple tree and sitting on the pasture bare.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

It must have been a lovely October day if Grandma and her friend Carrie Stout decided to have someone (her sister Ruth?) take their picture.

I’m a little confused by the phrase “sitting on the pasture bare.” The modern literal interpretation of the phrase makes no sense within the context of the times. Is the pasture bare. . . of grass? . . . of cows? . . . of fallen apples?

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