The Christmas Gift that Saves Work

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

Wednesday, December 9, 1914: Went to Milton this afternoon on a shopping trip. Took my camera down and had the film changed. Bought some Xmas presents and had a time getting them home.

hundred-year-old kitchen gadgets

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1914)

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

Welcome back, Grandma-

Tell us, PLEASE. What did you buy? Maybe some of the latest kitchen and cleaning gadgets for your mother? They might be awkward to carry.

Milton’s at least four miles from your home. You didn’t walk the whole way did you? . . . Did you take the trolley from Milton to Watsontown, and then walk the last mile and a half or so?

old egg beater and potato masher

grapefruit and orange knife

flour sieve

 

1914 None Such Mincemeat Advertisement

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

Tuesday, December 8, 1914: <<no entry>>

1914 None Such Mincemeat Advertisement

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1914)

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

As Grandma’s Bake-a-thon progresses, I thought that you might be looking for some old-time ingredients. According to this hundred-year-old advertisement, mincemeat is wonderful in fruit cake, pudding, and cookies–and, of course,  it makes fantastic pies.

Made the Most Wonderful __________

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

Monday, December 7, 1914:  <<no entry>>

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Angle Food Cake Pan (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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

I’ve gotten to know Grandma as a teen very well over the past few years—and I remember what she was like as an older woman when she was my grandmother. But as the diary winds down, I realized that I didn’t know much about what Grandma was like during her middle years—the years when she was raising her family.

So I went to the experts—her children. Today, I’d like to share Aunt Eleanor’s food memories:

As I get older I appreciate more and more that Mom put food on the table three times a day, day after day after day, year in, year out. There wasn’t much elegance about it, but by and large it was good food.

Probably because I married into a family which emphasized presentation and because in truth I was a guest at their company meals, I began to think my mother wasn’t a very good cook. The things I was zeroing in on were the occasional overcooking of meats and a relaxed attitude about cookie ingredients and baking times.

BUT the gravy was wonderful and in her words the cookies “always went.” In speaking of her until recently, I would say, “My mother’s cooking wasn’t great, but she did make a wonderful _______, and that blank could be her vegetable soup (I ate until I was tight as a tick), her angel food cake (before the advent of electric mixers!), her pies (my husband raves about the raspberry custard ones), her cinnamon rolls, etc., etc.

Until she gave in and bought store stuff, she baked loaf after loaf of very good bread, home-canned, and made noodles and deep-fried doughnuts. I’m fairly sure she even made deep-fried potato chips a few times.

And, like Aunt Eleanor, as I get older, I realize that I also appreciate the simple foods that I grew up eating more and more.   My friends eat sushi and fusion foods—while I enjoy trying to replicate the old recipes of my ancestors.



Grandma’s Bake-a-thon
continues. See previous post for  information about how to participate.

Baking Failures Can Make Wonderful Memories

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

Sunday, December 6, 1914: <<no entry>>

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

As we send Grandma off to live the rest of her life with the Bake-a-thon, I had an “ah ha” moment. Sometimes our best baking memories are the failures rather than the successes.

I recently told Uncle Carl (Grandma’s son) about my plans for the Bake-a-thon. He thought for a moment and then said:

You know, Mom’s cookies weren’t always the best. She’d burn them.

When, she did that, she’d say, “They’ll go.”

And, they did “go” because kids were always hungry.

Mom used that expression without any sense of guilt in burning them.  We were grateful to get them, and they were still very good, as was the homemade bread, which never seemed to get burned.

You must remember they were baked in the oven of a coal or wood fired stove without any thermometer.  That requires quite a bit of guess work.

Uncle Carl’s comment made me think about my first draft of the post I did about my memories of baking cookies. It originally included a paragraph about the time we forgot to put baking powder into the chocolate cookies. (It was a too many cooks thing).

After I’d written that paragraph, I decided that a story about a cookie failure didn’t belong in a post about baking memories so I deleted it. I now realize that I should have kept that paragraph.

Both baking successes and baking failures have the makings of wonderful memories.

How to Participate in Grandma’s Bake-a-thon

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

Saturday, December 5, 1914:  <<no entry>>

Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons

Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Grandma’s growing up. We’ve followed her life daily for the last four years—but she’s slowly losing interest in writing in her diary, and it ends on December 29, 1914. I’d like to use some of the remaining days of this blog to give Grandma a wonderful send-off to live the rest of her life.

So many wonderful memories of my grandmother are linked to food—and I think that if she was still around that she’d enjoy hearing other people’s stories of a holiday treat that they associate with one of their ancestors.

To celebrate Grandma’s transition to the next stage of her life, I’m organizing an event: Grandma’s Bake-a-thon.

To participate in the Bake-a-thon make an old family recipe, and share the story of why this recipe holds special memories for you.

You may want to tell your family and friends the recipe’s story; or share the recipe on your blog or Facebook page, in your Christmas letter, or by writing a comment on A Hundred Years Ago–whatever is most meaningful to you.

If you’re not a baker, you don’t need to actually make anything—just think about a favorite holiday treat and the person that you associate it with—and share the story.

Let the Bake-a-thon begin!

Memories of Baking Cookies with Grandma

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

Friday, December 4, 1914:  Nothing much doing. More later on.

DSC09647

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

As the holidays approach, I’d like to share a memory that includes both my mother and Grandma.

Mom always organized a cookie-baking party on an evening a week or so before Christmas. Each year my brother and I rushed to finish our farm chores so we could eat an early supper—and then bake cookies. Following the meal, we washed the dishes while Mom went to get Grandma, who lived in a bungalow two miles away.

Soon Grandma would be struggling through the kitchen door carrying a huge basket filled with cookie ingredients—walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, flour, baking chocolate—and her recipes.

We’d sort through Grandma’s (and my mother’s) recipes, and try to decide which cookies to make. Many of the recipe cards indicated that the source of the recipe was a great-aunt, cousin, or other relative.

The decision about which cookies to make required a discussion not only of the merits of each perspective recipe, but also of the person who originated the recipe. Should we make Great-grandma’s filled raisin cookies? (“Dad always loved them.”) . . . or that wonderful Sand Tart recipe that came from someone who was a neighbor of my mother’s 40 years ago (“Don’t know whatever happened to her, but she was a wonderful cook.”) . . .

Ah, the memories. . . I could go on and on.

____

Grandma’s diary ends on December 29. Over the past several months readers of A Hundred Years Ago have made many wonderful suggestions about how to send Grandma off to live the rest of her life.

I’ve decided to go with a Bake-a-thon because baking cookies with Grandma holds special memories for me and I know that the older version of Grandma loved our annual cookie baking party—so I think that she would have enjoyed a virtual Bake-a-thon.

Come back tomorrow—and I’ll share details about how you can participate in the Bake-a-thon.

Twenty Reasons to Buy a 1915 Chalmers “Light Six” Automobile

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

Thursday, December 3, 1914: Autoed over (in my dreams) and took several pictures of Ruthie’s school. Do hope they will be good this time.Chalmers 3

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

Grandma-

It sounds like fun to take pictures at your sister Ruth’s school.

In your dreams, what kind of a car did you auto over in? Maybe a Chalmers Light Six—According to the advertisements, it is as “safe and easy as an electric for a women to drive” (see number 6 below), but ever so much cooler.

Twenty Reasons for Buying a 1915 Chalmers “Light Six”

  1. It is a manufactured—not an assembled car. Built completely in the Chalmers shops by Chalmers trained workmen under rigid Chalmers inspections.

  2. Supremely good looking. Streamlined body, clean running boards, oval fenders, fine finish, and attractive colors. Pronounced by experts “the best looking car on the market.”

  3. Easy riding. Long wheelbased-126 inches. Long flexible springs, main leaf of Vanadium steel. Rear springs underslung.

  4. Medium weight. Lighter than most fours selling at the same or greater price; heavier than any of the so-called “light sixes.” Scientifically tested for a four-fold margin of safety, yet light enough to be economical; no flimsiness—no unnecessary weight.

  5. Weight perfectly distributed, hence no tire destroying sidesway. Concentric torque tube and perfect spring suspension make car hold well to any road.

  6. Non-stallable motor. Chalmers-Entz electric starter won’t let motor stop. Greatest element of motor safety ever introduced. Makes car safe and easy as an electric for a woman to drive.

  7. Left-hand drive, center-control, entrance or exit from either side of car. Starter and ignition switch, electric light control, carburetor adjustment, gasoline and oil gauges, speedometer, on cowl board of dash. Motor and all lubrication points accessible.

  8. Big power; small motor. Chalmers built. Even the castings made in Chalmers foundries. Small bore, extra-long stroke (3 ½” bore by 5 ½” stroke) develops unusual power. Very large Tungsten steel valves. Will not warp or pit, so no power is wasted. T-head design gives the smoothness of the turbine—the flexibility of steam.

  9. Practically unnecessary to shift gears: widest range of speeds on high. Such flexibility possible only in a “six” and rare even among “sixes.”

  10. Absence of vibration. All moving parts of motor perfectly balanced. Long stroke, six cylinder motor gives steady pull and sweet running. No intermittent power strokes pounding ceaselessly at bearings, cylinder walls, and gears. Upkeep expense reduced to minimum.

  11. All valve mechanism fully enclosed. Large oval cams open and shut with velvet smoothness. Perfect lubrication eliminates noise of operation.

  12. Simplest design of any “six.” Single unit ignition. Honeycomb radiator, cooling without complicated pump. Elimination of many moving parts cuts down weight and expense.

  13. A safe car. Frame of heavy, channel section pressed steel. Drop forged steering connections. Heavy artillery type wheels. Brakes 25 times as powerful in proportion to weight as those on a locomotive. Chalmers built axles of highest quality, heat-treated steel.

  14. Large bearings, positive lubrication, heat-treated gears, highest quality of materials insure least wear and minimum upkeep expense.

  15. Generously large. A “Light Six” but not a “little six.” Seats wide and deep. Ample leg room, both front and rear. Doors exceptionally wide. Luxurious upholstery.

  16. 1915 refinements. The “Master Light Six” is a year ahead in design. All moving parts enclosed. Transmission gears interlocking. Doors hung on invisible hinges. Doors flush fitting without moldings. Running boards clear. Gasoline tank can be filled without disturbing passengers.

  17. Fully equipped. Mohair top, quick acting curtains, rain vision windshield; five demountable rims; tire carrier at rear; electric lighting system with Chalmers combination headlights; speedometer, electric horn, license brackets, full set of tools, tire repair outfit.

  18. Faster selling “Six.” The “Light Six” is the most popular car ever built by the Chalmers Company. In April we shipped 1568 cars, an average of 60 cars per day. In this one month alone the public paid $3,000,000 for Chalmers “Sixes.” Buy the car the motor-wise have decided is best.

  19. Because it’s a Chalmers. This means that back of the Master “Light Six” stands one of the largest and strongest manufacturing companies in the United States. It means that the dealer you buy it from stands back of the car to see that you get satisfaction and full value.

  20. Price $1800: Experts say the Chalmers “light Six” is the greatest value ever offered at $1800. But mere figures can’t express the real worth of much a car to you and your family. Ask your wife if this isn’t the kind of car she wants. Ask her if it won’t be worth many times its price in health and recreation for the whole family. Take her with you to see the Master “Light Six”—together you will decide such beauty and value were never before offered at $1800.

Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 1, 1914)

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