Should I Tell Readers in Advance the Length of Gaps in the Diary?

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

Thursday, September 24, 1914:  <<no entry>>

Maybe Grandma was hanging out with friends in McEwensville and was too busy to write. (Or maybe she was busy harvesting crops and was too tired to write.)

Maybe Grandma was hanging out with friends in McEwensville and was too busy to write. (Or maybe she was helping harvest crops and was too tired to write.)

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

Every time Grandma didn’t write anything in the diary for several days I face a conundrum. Should I tell readers at the start of the missing days how many days are missing? . . . or should I just proceed one day at a time and let people discover over time whether the gap is very short or relatively long.

I’ve handled this situation both ways over the course of the diary—and neither feels quite right.

The current gap in diary entries began on September 19. Several readers have commented about how long it is. For example, KerryCan commented:

Helena is making you work very hard these days, since she isn’t writing herself! We’re lucky that you keep coming up with such interesting angles!

(True, I have to work harder—though I try to see it as an opportunity to write about topics that aren’t addressed by the diary entries.)

Other readers commented that they hoped that Grandma was having fun. For example, Dianna at These Days of Mine wrote:

Hopefully Grandma was busy having fun all these days when there have been no entries, and she’ll share big news in days to come!

(I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that she was having fun. She had such a special summer, and hopefully it is continuing into the fall.)

Oh, I guess I should tell you long the gap is. Grandma didn’t write anything in the diary for 9 days. This is the sixth of those days—so you can expect me to go off on various tangents for the next three days. :)

Drought in Central Pennsylvania in 1914

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

Wednesday, September 23, 1914: <<no entry>>

Milton Evening Standard 9 21 14

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 21, 1914)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share an article from Grandma’s local paper, the Milton Evening Standard.

Apparently there was a drought in central Pennsylvania during September, 1914—and the nearby town of Milton was concerned about a potential water shortage. I wonder how the well on the Muffly farm was holding up during the dry weather.

World War I in the News on September 22, 1914

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

Tuesday, September 22, 1914: <<no entry>>

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 22, 1914)

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 22, 1914)

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

Grandma has not mentioned World War I in the diary. How aware was she of the War? The Milton Evening Standard, her local newspaper, had regular stories about it. Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought that you might enjoy reading what the paper said on September 22, 1914 about the War.

Hundred-year-old Clipper Lawn Mower Advertisement

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

Monday, September 21, 1914: <<no entry>>

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 15, 1914)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 15, 1914)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I’m sharing an advertisement for the Clipper Lawn Mower.

I have lots of crab grass and dandelions in my yard—and I haven’t been able to successfully get rid of them. I definitely need a Clipper. . . wonder where I can find one.

Unfermented Communion Wine Recipe

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

Sunday, September 20, 1914: <<no entry>>

communion cups a

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought you might enjoy this recipe that I found in a hundred-year-old central Pennsylvania cookbook for unfermented communion wine.

Grandma attended a Baptist church—and 1914 was the era  right before prohibition when the temperance movement was at its peak—so my guess is that her church used grape juice (or “unfermented communion wine”) for communion.

Unfermented Communion Wine

Stem fifteen pounds grapes, boil in three quarts water until they come to pieces, then press out the juice, add four and one-half pounds of sugar, boil, skin and can or bottle the same as fruit.

Lycoming Valley Cook Book compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church Trout Run PA (1907) reprinted by Williamsport Printing and Binding Co. (1992)

“How I Knew When the Right Man Came Along”

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

Saturday, September 19, 1914: <<no entry>>

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

Source: McCalls (November, 1913)

I often use material from hundred-year-old issues of Ladies Home Journal. I was surprised to discover this “pot boiler” ad for Ladies Home Journal in the November, 1913 issue of McCall’s. Of course, I had to immediately find one of the article it referred to.

Why didn’t Grandma write anything a hundred years ago today? Back in July there was a diary entry or two which suggested that Grandma liked a guy. I keep wanting to think that she was having too much fun to have time to write in the diary—but who knows—maybe she was just working hard on the farm.

But, here are some quotes from an article in Ladies Home Journal that Grandma might have found useful if she had a beau.

How I Knew When the Right Man Came Along

. . . The following year I went away to college and during my Senior year I met a young physician, an alumnus of a nearby university, who had established a practice in the college town. He possessed the qualities I had so long for: education culture, self-possession, decision in every move. But, strangely enough I seemed to shrink from his physical presence. I tried to argue that it was but a natural modesty, but it set me thinking. Could I trust him? Was he clean? Were his eyes honest. Why did these thoughts come to me over and over? What was wrong? I called myself foolish and tried to reason them away-without success.

At last I determined to do what I should advise any girl to do whom there comes one moment’s questioning of a man’s morality. I went to a friend, an older physician, and hard though it was, asked him to tell me plainly if he knew anything about Doctor Powell that would cause him to withhold his consent to his own daughter’s marriage with him. The kindly talk that he gave me will live forever in my memory.

Doctor Powell and I were never engaged. It were better for me to have lived on bread and water than to have risked my mental and physical happiness with the attractive physician. . .

My disappointment at college had shown me the futility of romantic love. Now I had the opportunity to marry either my dashing attorney or the somewhat prosaic friend that I had known so long. Would marriage with either of them be what it should be? I determined to be in no hurry to make this momentous decision, and meantime to become as well acquainted as possible with both of my suitors.

I began to observe my married friends and to analyze the cause of their happiness or unhappiness. I soon decided that there was just one general rule that seemed to prevail throughout, and this was that an abiding respect and a deep unity of tastes and interests were to be found in every marriage worthy of the name.

Another thing was to be considered, something which in my girlhood I would never have allowed myself to think about, and that was the question of the children I might have. If I had not seen the necessity of putting aside for my own sake all petty considerations and all fleeting ambitions, the duty laid upon me of securing the best possible heritage for those whose lives I would be responsible for would surely have compelled me to do so. . .

Ladies Home Journal (December 1913)

1914 Pomeian Olive Oil Advertisement

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

Friday, September 18, 1914: Nothing to write.

1914-02-61 a

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I thought you might enjoy this 1914 ad.

Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the companies that have been around for more than a century. According to Wikipedia:

Pompeian, Inc. is a food company that was founded in Baltimore in 1906 and produced America’s first national brand of imported extra virgin olive oil.

 

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