“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.


Hundred-Year-Old Women’s Suits

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

Thursday, September 17, 1914: After a lapse of nine days I decided that it is time to write in my diary.

Went to town this afternoon to oblige Ruthie dear. Her suit need pressing (souvenir of our trip) so I walked it in.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1912)

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

Grandma– I’m confused. There been a sentence or two written most of the past nine days. Do you mean that you went back and wrote entries for all of those days at one time? . . .Your memory must be pretty good.

And, this thing about wearing suits on the trip to Niagara Falls. . .  It’s nice that you took your sister Ruth’s suit into the town to get pressed (at the dry cleaners?); but it seems ridiculous that you wore suits while on vacation.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (September, 1912)

Cow Had Fourth Male Calf

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

Wednesday, September 16, 1914: Born to Mollie, a son, and he’s a big one. While Mollie is very proud of him, I am still prouder, for he belongs to me. This is the fourth calf of Mollie’s family. The others are dead. Snapped a picture of Ruth’s school this morning.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

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

Mollie was Grandma’s cow. I think that her parents gave each child a cow. When the cow had a male calf, the child got the money from the sale; when it was a female, their personal herd grew.

This was the fourth year in a row that Mollie had a male calf.

On November 20, 1913, Grandma wrote:

My Mollie’s calf over which I have been rejoicing for the past week or two on account of his bigness was sold this afternoon. He weighed 164 pounds. I had figured out a week or so ago that he would just have to weigh at least 145 pounds. Haven’t I something to be thankful for?

On December 27, 1912, Grandma wrote:

 Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56. . .

And, on August 21, 1911, she wrote:

. . . I have decided to name Mollie’s calf Wobbly as he is rather weak in his legs, but he’ll get stronger bye and bye.

It’s surprising that Mollie’s had no female calves. I’m a little foggy on how you calculate the probability, but I think that there is only a 1 out of 16 chance of this occurring.

Climbed Tree to Harvest Grapes

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

Tuesday, September 15, 1914:  Climbed an old apple tree after grapes, and got well scratched up.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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


It sounds like harvesting grapes is challenging and dangerous work. At least you didn’t fall out of the tree.

Old-fashioned grape vines were much larger than more modern ones. I suppose that the apple tree served as a trellis for the grape vine—and that the grapes were Concord grapes or another similar variety with seeds and slip skins.

Canning Peaches

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

Monday, September 14, 1914: Did the washing this morning, while mother canned peaches. I helped eat some, too.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Here are the directions in a hundred-old-cookbook for canning peaches:

Canned Peaches

4 pounds peaches

2 pounds sugar

1 pint water

Pare peaches and cook in sugar and water, either whole or in halves, until tender. Arrange in jars, fill with syrup, and seal.

Pears, pineapples, and plums are canned in the same way as peaches.

Lowney’s Cook Book (1907)

I hope that Grandma’s mother was already very knowledgeable about canning because this recipe does not give me anywhere near enough information to even begin trying to can peaches.


A Little More About “Tweet”

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

Sunday, September 13, 1914: Went to Sunday School this morning. Was up at Tweet’s this afternoon, and went to church this evening.

Wesner's Dairy Milk Bottle

Wesner’s Dairy Milk Bottle (Photo Source: Worthpoint)

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

Tweet was the nickname of Helen Wesner. She was a friend of Grandma’s who was occasionally mentioned in the diary. Based on the diary, and other sources, here’s what I know about her:

Helen was three years older than Grandma. Helen never married—and worked on her family’s farm and in their small dairy processing plant that produced bottled milk. She died in 1976 at the age of 84.

Anyone with the nickname of Tweet had to have been a fun person. Here are two previous diary entries that mentioned Tweet or the Wesner’s.

On December 6, 1913 Grandma wrote:

The whole family was invited out for dinner today. We all went except Pa. It was up at Tweet’s place. We had something that I always had a curiosity to know what they tasted like. It was waffles.

And, on January 3, 1914, Grandma wrote:

Made a call this afternoon, so that the time wouldn’t be so tedious. I’m wishing and longing for a sleigh ride, now that there is sleighing.

Ruth and I went up to Wesner’s this evening. There were some other girls there too. Renewed my acquaintance with a former school mate whom I hadn’t seen for over three years I guess, until I saw her on Christmas eve. Had a good time.


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