Detained at Home to Help with Work

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

Saturday, June 27, 1914:  Was going to town this afternoon, but then was detained at home to help with the work.

Photo Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

Photo Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

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

Oh dear, Grandma, I’m so sorry. You’ve worked so hard for the last two weeks or so—first picking strawberries for wages and then helping harvest hay. A 19-year-old deserves to get Saturday afternoon off so that she can spend a little time with friends in town.

I write this while knowing in my heart that wasn’t the way farms operated. I have very clear memories of working long days when we were making hay when I was a child. Saturday often was an especially busy day, and I’m sure that it was the same when Grandma was young.

The next day was Sunday.  People didn’t work on Sunday’s back then— and there also weren’t accurate weather forecasts a hundred year ago. Grandma’s father was probably very worried that it would rain before Monday.

The old saying “make hay while the sun shines” is literally true for farmers. Farm work is very time and weather sensitive. Hay needs to be dried and brought in from the fields while the weather is good. A thunderstorm can nearly destroy a cut hay crop.

Making Hay

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

Thursday, June 25, 1914: Let me see, I leaded some hay for today and Daddy growled at the result. We went over to Stout’s this evening to fill up on black cherries (we haven’t any of our own). Nary a one did we get.

This picture is from a different time period. It was taken in the late 1950s, but it’s one of my favorite photos and I thought that maybe it would work as an illustration for this post. It’s a photo of my father and me on top of a wagon load of hay. I think that the hay baler broke that summer, so my father decided to make some hay the “old-fashioned” way.

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

Whew, it sounds like one hot summer job (picking strawberries) must be winding down, and another hot summer job (making hay) gearing up. Will the work ever end?

I think that Grandma was leading a horse that was either pulling a wagon through the hayfield while others piled the hay onto the wagon, or (and I think this is the more likely option) she was leading a horse that was operating a pulley system that was used to unload the hay in the barn.

Warmed Up Stuff

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

Wednesday, June 24, 1914:  Haven’t got nothing, but warmed up stuff today. So there.

DSC04324

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

Hmm. . . What does this diary entry mean?

. . . heated up left –over food? . . . just sitting around and warming up a seat? . . . had a disagreement with someone? . . weather was very hot? . . .

Hundred-Year-Old Ways to Prevent and Treat Sunstroke

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

Tuesday, June 23, 1914:   I Boiled, Baked, and Stewed in the hot sun. Please forgive all the capitals, but I want it to stand out from this page in blaring headlines. It wasn’t a very comfortable feeling to be cooked in so many different ways.

DSC04322

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

Grandma—

Are you still picking strawberries for wages? Take care— You’re young and healthy, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to get a sunstroke.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Sunstroke

The object is to reduce the temperature of the body. Generally, the causes of sunstroke are fatigue and sun heat, therefore, keep the head cool as possible and work in moderation while in the hot sun, and if any unusual dizziness is felt, cold water should be applied to the neck and head.

If the person falls unconscious he should at once be taken to a cool, airy place, and the bystanders should keep away so that the patient can get all the pure air possible. Sunstroke may be known by the respiration and pulse becoming slow and the face pale; give stimulants gradually, but do not use cold water too freely. Place the person on his back, the head being raised about two inches and a little ammonia water [smelling salts] given.

The Compendium of Every Day Wants (1908) by Luther Minter

Went to Children’s Day Service at Lutheran Church

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

Sunday, June 21, 1914:  Went to Sunday School this morning. Was over to see Carrie this afternoon. It commenced to rain this evening. Was afraid I wouldn’t get up to town this evening. The Lutherans had Children’s Day services. The rain didn’t last long, so Ruth and I started out.

Raymond Swartz, 1915

Raymond Swartz, 1915

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

I wonder why Grandma wanted so desperately to attend the Children’s Day services at the Lutheran Church.

Here’s one possible reason—though I don’t think that it’s very plausible. But here goes–

Maybe Grandma thought that my grandfather, Raymond Swartz, was cute; and, that he would be at the service. When I was a child my grandparents attended Messiah Lutheran Church in McEwensville—and I think that Grandma converted from Baptist to Lutheran when she got married.

That said, I don’t think this scenario is realistic. What I really think is that Raymond was not yet on Grandma’s radar screen. Grandma was three and a half years older than Raymond—and a hundred years ago today she was 19 years old, but he was only 15. They didn’t get married until she was 26 and he was 21.

2010 photo of the building that once housed Messiah Lutheran Church. It is now an antique shop.

2010 photo of the building that once housed Messiah Lutheran Church. It is now an antique shop.

Carrie Stout was a friend of Grandma’s who lived on a nearby farm. And, Ruth was Grandma’s sister.

What is Feminism?

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

Friday, June 19, 1914: Simply nothing.

Recent picture of McEwensville

Recent picture of McEwensville

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

Nothing days are good days to contemplate deep questions. Did Grandma ever ask herself questions like: Do I believe that women should have more rights?. . . Am I a feminist? . . .

Here’s the beginning of an article on feminism that was in the May, 1914 issue of Good Housekeeping:

What is Feminism?

Has the question reached your hometown yet? If it has not, it soon will. And if the people in your home town are like the people in mine, the answers will be various and sundry—as many different answers probably as there are people.

“Femi-what?” your average citizen will venture. “Feminism? Something about women, isn’t it?”

“It’s the woman’s movement”—“It’s the furthering of the interests of women”—“It’s the revolt of the women”—”It’s the assertion of woman’s right to individual development”—“It’s the doctrine of freedom for women”—“It’s woman’s struggle for the liberation of her personality”—

The suggestions have crowded one on the heels of the other so rapidly, and so dogmatically, during this early part of the twentieth century, that the onlooker may be forgiven for deciding that there are a so many definitions of feminism as there are feminists.

Yet what distinguishes the contribution of the times on the subject is the really synthetic effort back of all the definitions, the effort to get “the woman question” assembled on a broader base than any from which it has as yet been projected. Higher education for women, economic opportunity for women, right of person and property for women, political enfranchisement for women—all begin as parts of something greater, vaster.

Whether or not we have found it in feminism is still an open question. Some draw back because they say, it means too much. Some don’t like it because they say it doesn’t mean enough. Some want the woman question to stay concentrated upon suffrage. . .

Stiff from Picking Strawberries

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

Tuesday, June 16, 1914:  Am as stiff as a poker, and feel worse than I don’t know what.

Strawberries

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

I’d feel stiff, too. I think that Grandma was getting paid by a neighbor to pick strawberries. The previous day she wrote that she was “working for wages.” It’s hard work to stoop and pick strawberries for hours on end.

I wonder if Grandma ate any of the berries. In 1912, she wrote:

This morning I picked berries and helped myself to some. I wonder if anyone saw me. . .

June 10, 1912

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