Grandma’s April Fools’ Pranks

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

Wednesday, December 16, 1914: <<no entry>>

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

Another day with no diary entry . . . sigh. . . so I’ll continue the story about Grandma’s sense of humor when she was an older woman.

My aunt mentioned in yesterday’s post that her mother (Grandma) always enjoyed a good joke or story. She also told me how much Grandma enjoyed playing pranks on April Fools’ Day.

There are several versions of the April Fools story (or maybe Grandma did similar pranks a couple different years). Here’s how my cousin Anne Marie told the April Fools’ day story in a guest post several years ago:

One April Fools’ Day Grandma 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.

 

Enjoyed Ma and Pa Kettle Movies

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

Tuesday, December 15, 1914: <<no entry>>

Ma and Pa Kettle (Source: Wikipedia)

Ma and Pa Kettle (Source: Wikipedia)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything again a hundred years ago today, I’ll continue with memories that others have of Grandma:

Aunt Eleanor (Grandma’s daughter) wrote:

I remember her sense of humor. She did enjoy a good joke or story, especially if it dealt with human foibles and/or pretensions. She adored the Ma and Pa Kettle movies, and I think she saw every one.

Last week-end I got a dvd of the first movie in the series, The Egg and I, out of the library. It is based on a book by Betty McDonald.

It was fun to imagine Grandma watching, and enjoying, the same movie 60 or 70 years ago.

This humorous movie tells the story of a couple, named Bob and Betty, who follow the husband’s dream to become a chicken farmer. One hilarious disaster follows another as they try to convert the run-down farm into a successful chicken operation. Ma and Pa Kettle (and their large family) live nearby.

 

Why Did Grandma Never Mention Grandpa in the Diary?

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

Monday, December 14, 1914: <<no entry>>

Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook

Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook

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

One of the biggest mysteries about Grandma’s diary has never been fully resolved. Grandma obviously knew my grandfather, Raymond Swartz, during the years when she was writing the diary, but she never mentioned him in it. Why?

They both were members of the 1913 graduating class at McEwensville High School. There were only 6 students in the class. But Grandma was 3 ½ years older than Grandpa. She was 18 when they graduated from high school; he was 14 ½ years old. My guess is that he skipped several grades in school.

Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.

Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.

commencement.program.1

1913 commencement program that contains both my grandmother’s and grandfather’s names.

This is what Aunt Eleanor (Grandma’s daughter) said when I asked her when Grandma and Grandpa started dating:

They probably never had much contact with each other outside of school. Geographically they came to and from school and/or church in different directions As I understand it, Daddy finished up at McEwensville and then went to Milton High School for his junior and senior years. Then he continued to farm with his father. My theory is that he started thinking about getting married when he was around 20 or 21 years old and, looking around at the eligible females, remembered that sweet Helen Muffly from school – or maybe church.

I can give you a little more detail about several of the things Aunt Eleanor mentioned. Grandpa lived on a farm south of McEwensville; Grandma on one west of McEwensville. So even though it was a very small community, they would have taken different roads when walking to and from school.

McEwensville High School was an old-fashioned classical high school; whereas Milton High School was a new modern comprehensive one with various programs and tracks that included things like business courses. Some students (like Grandpa) continued their education at Milton after they completed the program at McEwensville.

Food Gifts for Friends and Neighbors & Cherry Almond Cake Recipe

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

Tuesday, December 15, 1914: <<no entry>>

Front door decorated for Christmas

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

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

What was keeping Grandma so busy that she had no time to write in her diary? Maybe she was baking holiday treats to give friends and neighbors.

I have warm memories from my childhood of neighbors knocking on the door holding a tray of cookies, homemade plum pudding, or a tin of candy—and I’m guessing that food gifts were even more common a hundred years ago.

The many readers who are participating in the Bake-a-thon are giving Grandma a wonderful send-off to live the rest of her life as the diary winds down. As part of the Bake-a-thon, Pam (Quiall) at Butterfly Sand included a wonderful recipe for Cherry Almond Cake in a comment several days ago. Here’s her story and recipe.

My Mother and I would make several batches of Cherry Almond Cake. Some were small loaves for the neighbours and a big round one for us. Wonderful memories of Christmas,

CHERRY ALMOND CAKE

1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup almonds
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups glazed cherries
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

First:
Slice cherries and nuts (buy almonds already blanched and sliced). Combine 1/2 cup flour with cherries and almonds in bowl. Mix until fruit is well coated.

Second:
Combine remaining flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

Third:
Cream butter until fluffy, add flavourings. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Beat eggs until light and lemon-coloured. Add to creamed mixture. Beat together well.

Fourth:
Add dry ingredients to butter, etc., alternately with almonds and nuts, folding in gently until well combined. Add lemon juice and then milk.

Turn into prepared tin. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

If using small loaf pans (4 will do) bake for 1 hour and then check. Time will vary because of the size of the loaves.

1914 Dromedary Dates Advertisement

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

Saturday, December 12, 1914: <<no entry>>

Source: National Food Magazine (December, 1914)

Source: National Food Magazine (December, 1914)

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 a 1914 advertisement for Dromedary Dates.

I was not only amazed that the brand has been around for so long, but also by how “packaged’ it looks with the packet of dates in the larger box.

Hmmm. . . I’m getting hungry for Date Bars. Maybe I’ll have to look for an old recipe and make some for the Bake-a-thon. :)

Candy Cane Memories

Sheryl:

Friday, December 11, 1914 :<<no entry>>
Readers participating in Grandma’s Bake-a-thon have shared many wonderful memories. We are giving Grandma a great send-off to live the rest of her life after the diary ends.

Today I’d like to share the awesome post that Sharon at Dirndl Skirt Gatherings did about her memories of baking Candy Cane Cookies with her mother.

One of the things that I most enjoy about Dirndl Skirt Gatherings is how Sharon infuses her art and artist’s perspective into many posts. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to see her awesome holiday drawing of a woman wearing a candy cane skirt.

Originally posted on Dirndl Skirt Gatherings:

Growing up in the early 1960s, and being a kind of girly-girl, I do remember I liked my food pink. And sugary. When standing in line with my mom at Acme Supermarket, the impulse buy of choice near the cash register was those awful (to me now) pink marshmallow cookies with white coconut sprinkles. This was before red dye #2 was banned.

But at Christmas time, we made cookies. Mom did like to bake, if not actually cook. (Hey, it was the Atomic Age, and she had better things to do, like paint!) One of my favorites from that era was candy cane cookies. We had to divide the dough, and color one half. Then keep it moist until we twisted the braids together and curved them into the cane hook. Some baking, and voila! This was a cookie that actually tasted as good as it looked, as opposed…

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Christmas Fudge

Sheryl:

Thursday, December 10, 1914:  <no entry>

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

Many readers of A Hundred Years Ago are participating in Grandma’s Bake-a-thon, and are sharing a family recipe story that is special to them. This Bake-a-thon is being held to give Grandma a wonderful send-off to live the rest of her life after the diary ends. On several days when Grandma didn’t write anything, I plan to reblog some of those stories.

Today, I’m featuring a post by Lillian at Lillian’s Cupboard. She directed me to a wonderful post she wrote about Christmas Fudge.

Originally posted on Lillian's Cupboard:

During the rationing of World War II, we children craved sugar

As we watched Mother sprinkle carefully measured spoonsful over our oatmeal.

We wanted more sweetness in our hot chocolate, in our pudding;

We longed for a bottomless sugar bowl.

But in the fall Mother stood in long lines that coiled around the city tenements

To get an extra bag of sugar allotted for canning and preserving.

She squirreled this away until Christmas

When it was transformed into the most glorious pecan studded fudge,

Sweet enough to make up for a whole year of rationing.

“Christmas Fudge”, by Lillian – 1997

My mother was famous in our family for her homemade fudge, made without benefit of a candy thermometer and cooked and beaten until it was perfect.  Then, it was placed in a special rose-bedecked tin to be brought out on Christmas Eve, opened and squares of never-to-be-forgotten goodness placed…

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