Bought Some Carbolic Acid

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

Tuesday, August 11, 1914:  Had to trot up to McEwensville to get some carbolic acid for Pa. The storekeeper said I should be careful of it; Well I didn’t swallow any if that’s what was meant. It must be fierce stuff. I could smell it through the bottle.

carbolic acid

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

What happened? Why did Grandma’s father need carbolic acid?

Carbolic acid (also known as phenol) was an antiseptic that was used to clean wounds. It was also used as a disinfectant.

It is a poison, but in small amounts it is sometimes used as an ingredient in some oral analgesics. For example, in more recent years carbolic acid has been used as an ingredient in Chloraseptic spray and Carmex.

Doing Laundry a Hundred Years Ago

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

Monday, August 10, 1914:   We were busy washing this morning. Two mornings prior to this one I escaped wash days as I found some errand to take me away for the morning.  It was a big one this time. We are getting some of our things ready for the trip. Told Ruth I wished the time would soon pass.

washboard

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

Grandma and her sister Ruth were going to visit Niagara Falls later in August. Doing laundry was more work back then than now.

Since it’s relevant to this post, I’m going to repeat part of a post that I originally shared three years ago on August 28, 2011 (1911):

—-

Here are some quotes from a book published in 1911 called Laundry Work for Use in Home and Schools by Juniata Shepperd:

Prepare melted soap for the washing by using bits and pieces and ends of soap which have been left. Cut them fine, and shave up as much more as is necessary, or buy soap chips for the purpose. Place the soap in an earthen jar, just cover with water, and set the jar in the oven or on the stove until the soap is melted or dissolved. Use in the proportion of one gallon of water to one-fourth pound of soap. This should be prepared the day before the family washing is to be done.

Portable tubs are usually made of wood or of galvanized iron. A wooden tub is heavy to handle and requires special care in dry weather to prevent its falling apart but it holds the wringer well and is easily kept clean. A galvanized iron tub is light, and not difficult to clean but does not hold the wringer unless fitted with wooden cleats and clamped to the wash bench.

Washboards are in different patterns and made of different materials. A wooden washboard probably injures the cloths as little as any kind, but is rather unpleasant to use unless one is accustomed to it. In selecting a glass or metal-covered board, choose one that is not too much corrugated, because many angles wear clothes as they glide over them.

When the washing is finished the washboard should be washed, wiped dry, and put away in a clean, dry place.

Each part of the wringer should be perfectly clean. When through using it each time, the rollers should be wiped with a dry cloth, or if much soiled, they should be rubbed with a cloth wet with turpentine or kerosene, washed with soapsuds, rinsed, and wiped dry.

When clothes have been well washed in one suds, they can usually be made clean and white by placing them in tepid suds, bringing to the boiling point, and allowing them to boil for a few minutes.

There are a few points to be remembered in preparing clothes for boiling. They must not stop boiling after they begin, and when taken into tepid water from the boiler each piece, must be punched under the water as soon as put into the tub. Exposure to the air seems to set the dirt, and cold water contracts the fibers, thus holding the dust particles, instead of allowing them to fall out, as they should when the clothes are rinsed or manipulated in this water, preparatory to the rinse water proper.

Obstinate stains on white goods may sometimes be removed by soaking the spot in turpentine, then washing, boiling, and finishing.

Clothes lines are of different kinds, and may be either movable or stationary. There are several patterns of clothes pins, but the plain, simple ones are usually most satisfactory, as they are inexpensive, easily washed when dirty, and do their work very well.

And, then the clean clothes need to be ironed . . .

Remodeling of Church Completed

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

Sunday, August 9, 1914:  Went to Sunday school this afternoon. Our church is fixed up at last. It’s quite a satisfaction now to look around and admire the pretty walls and ceiling. It was pretty warm today. The seats had been varnished. Was afraid I might stick fast, but I didn’t. Came home and found Ruthie a lazying around in her room. Her excuse was, ‘twas too hot to go to church.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I bet the pews in Grandma’s church were shinier than these . . . Hmm, now that I’m thinking about it, Grandma said “seat”, not “pews”. Did she mean pews, and was just using imprecise language?

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

The remodeling of the McEwensville Baptist Church took a month and a half. At the beginning of the process, on June 22, 1914, 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. One girl upset her bucket of water off a step ladder. Had to laugh. I was up near the ceiling, and my laughing made me dizzy. Came down off that ladder and staid down. Didn’t want a fate like the bucket.

The remodeled church sounds lovely with pretty walls and ceiling—and shiny varnished seats. Yet, I feel a twinge of sadness, because I know that the church will soon begin its final decline since, in 1939, in her History of McEwensville, Agnes Beard wrote:

 The Baptist Church, a brick edifice, has fallen into ruins, there being no members in or near the place to keep it in repair.

1914 Kodak Folding Brownie Camera Advertisement

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

Saturday, August 8, 1914:  A thunderstorm came on about midnight. Was glad Mr. Brownie wasn’t out in the rain. I tried to picture the result.

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (July 1, 1914)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (July 1, 1914)

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

Whew, Grandma that was close. Thank goodness you got “Mr. Brownie” in before he got wet.

The previous day, Grandma wrote:

. . . Hope Mother dear doesn’t see this. Something would happen if she did. I bought a brownie. It is a little over a week e’er we go to Niagara Falls, and well the temptation was too great. I didn’t want Ruthie to lay her eyes on that package. She has such a way of divining things. I left Mr. Package under a cherry tree, where I felt sure it would not been seen. After dark I smuggled it into the house and up to my room.

Since Grandma was so interested in photography and developing film, I’ve done several previous posts that included other advertisements that you might enjoy:

1913 Film Tank Advertisement

1913 Kodak Camera Ad

1913 Kodak Vest Camera

1914 Kodak Advertisement in Farm Magazine

An Upcoming Trip

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

Friday, August 7, 1914:  Florence and I walked to Watsontown this afternoon. She couldn’t stay till train time. Ma wanted me to go to Milton to get her teeth. It was nice and breezy riding down on the car.

Hope Mother dear doesn’t see this. Something would happen if she did. I bought a brownie. It is a little over a week e’er we go to Niagara Falls, and well the temptation was too great. I didn’t want Ruthie to lay her eyes on that package. She has such a way of divining things. I left Mr. Package under a cherry tree, where I felt sure it would not been seen. After dark I smuggled it into the house and up to my room.

1909 Kodak Brownie Camera*

1909 Kodak Brownie Camera (Manufactured: 1909-1915)

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

Wow, Grandma, there’s a lot in this diary entry. You’re getting downright wordy.

Niagara Falls! You’re going to Niagara Falls! Last spring you wrote that you went to Williamsport—which is only 20 miles away—for the first time in your life. And, now you’re going all the way to Niagara Falls! Awesome!. . . Tell us more.

Is the “brownie” a camera? Why would your mother have been angry if she’d known you’d purchased it? You have so much fun taking, and developing, photos. In my humble opinion, you definitely need to new camera to record the trip.

See any cherry trees?DSC04327

DSC04328

Ruth (or Ruthie in this diary entry) was Grandma’s sister. I have no idea who Florence was. This is a new name in the diary.

There’s a Guy!

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

Thursday, August 6, 1914:  Ruth and I went to a party up at Seibert’s this evening. A girl friend of Ruth’s came to take in the affair, so we all went together. Had a rather nice time. They played kissing games (have reasons of my own for not saying we), even if I did get some kisses. Arrived home at about half past 1 a.m.

A side street in McEwensville

A side street in McEwensville

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

Grandma!

WHO is it? . . .Is he cute? . . . I’m not sure whether to be happy for you or alarmed.

I’m trying to be ecstatic , but sometimes I just can’t forget that in reality I’m a middle-aged mother who worries about my kids. . . and that you are my grandmother.

Farm Electricity Plants a Hundred Years Ago

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

Wednesday, August 5, 1914: Ditto

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine

Caption: The washing of the greasy, smoked lamp chimneys and the dangerous practice of carrying a lantern into the hay mow are done away with. Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (October, 1914)

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

The previous day Grandma wrote that she, “Forgot what I did today.”

Since nothing was happening in Grandma’s life that merited mention in her diary, and since I’m still fascinated with how technology was changing a hundred years ago, I’m going to go off on another tangent.

In 1914 electricity was widely available in larger towns—though it had not yet come to McEwensville. However, some farmers were beginning to install generators and batteries that could be used to produce electricity.

I don’t really understand how the systems worked, but here’s what an article in the October, 1914 issue of Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine said:

The Farm Electricity Plant

For the operation of the little plant, less skill is required than to run the simplest automobile. It contains a gasoline engine of 1 1/2 horsepower, an electric generator or dynamo, a storage battery of 16 small cells, which can be placed on a shelf 8 inches wide by 5 feet long and a simple switchboard. The generating part weights but 160 pounds.

The cost of lamps and wiring will be about $3 per lamp, more or less, depending on the conditions and grade of materials employed. An estimate of materials and wiring may be obtained from a local electrician or contractor. Or the farmer may buy the materials and do the wiring himself at odd times. This is a simple matter with the aid of a good book on wiring.

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