A Boring Day in a Wonderful Month

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

Wednesday, July 1, 1914:

July has come to us once more.

Bright with days of the summer time.

Laden with joys that we all may find.

Filled to the brim and running o’er.

It’s a sad way to begin a month, if you’ve forgotten all the things you did. Guess I didn’t do much for the day by the sound of the entry.DSC02847

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

The poem and the rest of the diary entry seem so diametrically opposed. Even though the month began slowly, maybe Grandma was hopeful that the reminder of the month would be busy, fun-filled, and generally awesome.

  • “sad way to begin a month” vs. “bright with days”
  • “forgotten” vs. “laden with joys”
  • “didn’t do much” vs. “filled to the brim and running o’er”

Monthly Poem

For more information about the poems that Grandma included on the first day of each month, see this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

June Flew By

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

Tuesday, June 30, 1914: It seems to me that the month of June comes and goes like a streak. The day passed like other days. Quite a few of them are alike.



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


I agree! June has come and gone like a streak. (Why can’t January come and go like a streak? It always seems to go on and on and on?)




Is It Okay for a Guy to Walk a Girl Home?

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

Monday, June 29, 1914:  Nothing much to write about.

Recent photo of the road that went  to the Muffly farm.

Recent photo of the road that went to the Muffly farm.

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy reading some more hundred-year-old advice from an advice columnist called “Aunt Harriet.” It was published in Farm Journal.

Heart Problems


Aunt Harriet

A girl writes me that in her neighborhood “every boy who walks beside you or talks to you a while is a beau.” She goes on to ask how boys and girls, from fifteen to twenty, should act toward each other.

Is it not strange that the freedom which young people enjoy nowadays should not include the liberty of a natural friendliness between young men and women, the right to enjoy each others society without the comments, criticism and conjectures of the entire community?

You much realize that one of the phases of adolescence is the curiosity regarding the other sex; tis is a normal condition, worthy of consideration and not to be laughed at. Unconsciously, each seeks his mate and an unfettered choice is impossible in a narrow-minded community.

In choosing a garment or piece of furniture one rarely takes the first that offered; others must be seen for the sake of comparison. How much more important is the choice of a life mate, and yet people would restrict that choice.

Of course, I shall be misunderstood, but again I maintain that the happiest condition for young people is a community where they may gather together for all wholesome diversions, and where a boy can walk home with one girl today and call on another tomorrow, without being considered a “flirt”, while his sister has like privileges, without reflections on her character.

If the parents are sensible, they see that no one young man absorbs all their daughter’s time, until he is an accepted lover. As for the gossips, remember the old motto, “They say! Let them say!” In other words, why care?

Farm Journal (August, 1914)

You may also enjoy these previous posts that contained advice from Aunt Harriet:

What Did Wedding and Engagement Rings Cost A Hundred Years Ago?

How Much Should a Man Spend on a Date? Hundred-Year-Old Advice

Hundred-year-old Advice Column: Heart Problems by “Aunt Harriet”

Sunday School was Awfully Hot and Stuffy

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

Sunday, June 28, 1914:  Went to Sunday School this afternoon. It was held in the Town Hall as the church is not fixed up yet. It seemed like an awful stuffy place and as hot as there was any use in being.

Recent photo of McEwensville Community Hall (Town Hall)

Recent photo of McEwensville Community Hall (Town Hall)

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

The McEwensville Town Hall (or the Community Hall as it is now called) has been around for a long time—and I picture it looking very similar a hundred years ago to how it looks now.

In my imagination I can see clearly see a sweaty Grandma sitting in a folding chair fanning herself with a  church bulletin while barely listening to the a very boring Sunday School lesson.DSC04338


Inside of Community Hall

What was being done to remodel the McEwensville Baptist Church? The previous Monday Grandma wrote:

Had quite a time at rubbing and washing today, and it wasn’t here at home either. We are going to have the church fixed over, and it was necessary to wash off the walls. . .


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.

Had to Carry Hay Rope

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

Friday, June 26, 1914:  Oh, I had to carry the hay rope, while Ruthie led the horse.


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

There is a seasonal ebb and flow to the diary—and generally I really enjoy looking at similar diary entries that were written in different years from a different angle each year. But, I hope that you’ll bear with me because I’m going to repost a post for the third time since it so aptly explains what Grandma was describing in this diary entry.

Hay Pulleys and Ropes

(Previously Posted on June 24, 2011 and November 23, 2013)

A hundred years ago hay was not baled. Instead dried loose hay was brought into the barn on a wagon and then hoisted into the mow using a rope and pulley system.

I called my father to get help figuring out what “carry the hay rope” meant. My father guesses that Grandma was half carrying and half dragging the hay rope to keep the horse from inadvertently stepping on it. Let me explain how they used to get hay from the wagon into the haymows.

(Some of you probably know much more about how hay was made in the old days—and please feel free to jump in if I’m not explaining it quite right.)

Dad said that when he was young there were pulleys on a track that ran down the center of the inside of the barn roof. Depending upon where the farmer wanted to pile the hay the pulleys would be moved along the track. A young man with excellent balance would climb up onto a beam in the barn rafters and move the pulleys along the track as needed.

One end of the rope was attached to a large clamp (hay hook) that was used to pick up a large bunch of loose hay from the wagon.

The rope went then went through the pulley system—and the other end of the rope was attached to a horse. On command the horse walked forward and the pulleys lifted the hay into the mow.

The hay was then released and the rope went limp and a portion of it would fall to the barn floor. The horse would then be walked back to the original position and the process would be repeated.

My father says that when he was a child, the adult men did the heavy work, and the children did the easier jobs. His older sister Marjorie would lead the horse as it pulled the hay upward—and then circle it back to the original position after the hay was released.

And my father would pick up the rope when it fell to the floor after the hay was released and keep it away from the horse’s feet. Dad says that if a horse stepped on the rope it would damage it by breaking some of the strands. Then there would be the risk of the damaged rope breaking, which might result in a dangerous accident if it broke while the hay was being lifted.

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.


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