Hundred-Year-Old Flexible Flyer Sled Ad

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

Friday, December 22, 1911: Strung some pop corn for on the Christmas tree. Jimmie got a sled today after a lot of ding-donging for it. He had to go along with Pa to see that he got the kind he wanted. Ruthie came home with them, well supplied with lots of news. I only hope she got me the Xmas present I wanted. She got Jimmie a horn. With two horns he ought to makes things buzz for several days at least.

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

I wonder if Grandma’s six-year-old brother Jimmie got a Flexible Flyer sled.

Source: The Youth’s Companion (December 7, 1911)

Flexible Flyer—“The sled that steers”

Every boy and girl wants one. It’s the ideal Xmas gift. Nothing you can give the children will make them so happy! Don’t buy simply a “steering sled.” You want more than that. You want a FLEXIBLE FLYER—the safest, speediest, handsomest, and most economical sled made.

With the ordinary “sled” you drag the feet to steer, but you steer the FLEXIBLE FLYER by the mere pressure of hand or foot on the steering bar. You can steer accurately in any desired direction past all other sleds, and around every obstacle.

Just think of the saving this means in boots and shoes, as well as in doctor’s bills! It prevents wet feet, colds, etc., and actually saves its cost many times each season.

The FLEXIBLE FLYER is light and graceful. Easy to pull up hill, yet so strong and scientifically made it

outlasts three ordinary sleds

Another important feature is our patented grooved runners which prevent skidding on icy hills or pavements. These grooved runners are far superior even on snowy surfaces to flat or rounded runners used on all other sleds. It also has more steering surface than other sleds.

Ask your dealer to show you its many other exclusive advantages. Don’t accept a substitute.

Insist on a FLEXIBLE FLYER and be sure to look for the name on the sled. It isn’t a FLEXIBLE FLYER unless it bears this trade mark.

Win every race!

Card-Board Model FREE, also a beautiful booklet, illustrated in colors showing coasting scenes, etc. Just write a postal giving your name and address and say—“Send model and booklet.” We will gladly send them both absolutely free. Write to-day before you forget it.

S.L. Allen & Co., Box 1100 C, Philadelphia, Pa.

Busy Week Coming to an End

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

Thursday, December 21, 1911: Had to go to Watsontown again this week. This time to get that hat pin for Besse. This week seems to be flying around rather fast. Tomorrow Rufus arrives. Then my long siege of milking will be ended.

Recent photo of downtown Watsontown

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

Yeah, Grandma’s sister Ruth–referred to as Rufus in this entry– was coming home and Grandma won’t need to do all of the milking by herself! Grandma mentioned getting up at 5 a.m. to do the milking on the 18th.  Ruth was attending a teacher professional development institute.

Grandma also mentioned on the 18th that she’d bought a gold hat pin for her married sister Besse. She must have needed to go back to town to actually pick up the pin.

Watsontown is located along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River about two miles from the Muffly farm. It  had more of a shopping district a hundred years ago than it does today.

Old-Time Black Walnut Cake Recipe

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

Wednesday, December 20, 1911: Pa went to Sunbury this morning and I had all the barn work to do at noon and this evening, but I managed to get through with it at last. Picked out some walnuts for Xmas candy and then Mater had to go and swipe some to stick in some cakes for Jimmie. Maybe they’ll all be gone where they’re wanted.

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

This year my husband and I have enjoyed eating foods mentioned in the diary that we hadn’t eaten in years.

We picked the last of the black walnuts that we gathered last fall out of their shells last week-end.  It’s the first year that we’ve gathered them since we were children.  Next year we’ll need to collect more.

I used the nuts to make a black walnut cake. The cake brought back warm memories of my childhood when I ate black walnut cake at reunions and church dinners.  At those gatherings, elderly woman proudly brought black walnut (and hickory nut) cakes that they’d lovingly made using nuts that they’d gathered, hulled, cracked, and picked the nut meats out of.

Black Walnut Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup water

2 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup black walnuts (chopped)

2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Butter icing (optional)

Additional finely chopped black walnuts (optional)

Cream the butter with powdered sugar and cold water. Add egg yolks, cinnamon, flour, and baking powder; beat until combined.  Stir in the walnuts.  Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Put batter into a well-greased loaf pan and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

If desired, glaze with butter icing; sprinkle with additional finely chopped walnuts.

Christmas Isn’t Going To Be “As It Ought To Be”

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

Tuesday, December 19, 1911: Fixed up some for Christmas although I guess no one is coming. I like to have things seem like it ought to. Jimmie is so anxious to know what I got your  highness.

Recent photo of the house Grandma lived in. The photo was taken at dusk on a December day.

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

I can almost feel Grandma’s pain when she wrote this entry. I wonder why no one was coming—but it makes it feel proud that Grandma did some decorating so that things “looked like they ought to.”

Throughout most of December the diary entries indicated that Grandma was looking forward to Christmas.

What could have possibly been wrong? The diary provides no clues.

Was someone ill? . . . .Had there been a disagreement with someone in the extended family?

People Mentioned in This Post

Jimmie was Grandma’s 6-year-old brother. I think that “your highness” refers to their older sister Ruth. In the diary when Grandma was annoyed with Ruth she used other terms and nicknames (such as Rufus) for her sister.

Rayo Lanterns Advertisement

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

Monday, December 18, 1911: Got up about five o’clock this morning. I milked this morning in entire darkness, but I guess I’ll wait until it gets lighter after this. Ruth left about half past six this morning intending to take the early train. Don’t know what I’ll do without her. Am beginning to miss her already. I consoled myself by going to Watsontown and buying Xmas presents. I got Mater a half doz. tumblers. Ruth a pair of gold collar pins. Besse a gold hat pin and Jimmie a horn to make some noise with. After going over my list of things I bought I found that one of the clerks had cheated herself out of fifteen cents.

Advertisement Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (September 15, 1911)

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

Whew, Grandma had a long day. It doesn’t sound like fun to get up at 5 a.m. to milk cows on one of the shortest days of the year.

And, it’s kind of cool that Grandma missed her sister Ruth so quickly after she left–or at least wished that her sister was there to help with the work. In so many diary entries, Grandma seemed annoyed or frustrated with her sister; and refers to her as Rufus, her highness, etc. It’s been fun to try to decipher the complex relationship between the sisters.

At least Grandma had a  fun shopping. I love the line about the clerk cheating herself out of 15 cents. Grandma would have noticed that type of mistake even when she was elderly. She strongly believed that if you watched your pennies that the dollars would take care of themselves. (Actually she probably also worried about the dollars.)

Even when Grandma was very old, if she saw a penny lying on a sidewalk, she would bend down to pick up.

I also always pick up stray pennies whenever I see any—and remember that I learned the importance of every single penny from Grandma. I tell my children that I’m still young because I can still bend and pick pennies up. My children retort that I must be old if I think that a penny still has enough value to make it worthwhile picking up.

Mud! Had to Walk the Rails to Town

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

Sunday, December 17, 1911: Went to Sunday School this afternoon taking the longer way up the railroad on account of the awful roads. Besse was out this afternoon to see Ruth’s outfit. Gaugers came down this evening. Must get up early tomorrow morning because Ruthie must depart early. 

A hundred years ago Grandma would have walked this track from the Muffly farm to McEwensville. In those days the train track wouldn't have gone under an interstate highway underpass like it does today.

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

The mud must still be horrific. The roads between the Muffly farm and McEwensville were not paved in 1911—but the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick railroad tracks crossed the farm, so Grandma sometimes walked the tracks to town when the roads were muddy. People frequently walked the rails a hundred years ago—though it was considered a somewhat dangerous practice.

Grandma’s married sister Besse must have come out to the farm from the nearby town of Watsontown to see the outfit of their other sister, Ruth.

A previous post mentioned that Ruth was going to an institute. Ruth was a teacher at a nearby one-room school house and I think that she was going to a short teacher professional development institute for part of the holiday break. (Schools had a longer winter break back then.)

The Gauger family lived on a farm that was located between McEwensville and Turbotville. That farm was about two miles from the Muffly farm.  Ruth married one of the Gauger children (Bill) several years after the end of this diary . Based upon the diary entries, I don’t think that Ruth was dating Bill Gauger in December, 1911. Also based upon previous posts, I do think that Grandma may have had a crush on Bill in 1911.

Old Tips for Making Tucks and Pleats (Plaits)

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

Saturday, December 16, 1911: Mater is making a skirt for me. Had it fitted this afternoon. It is navy blue and am going to wear it to school. While doing a little bit of sashing, which took some rubbing this afternoon I had the misfortune to make four blisters grow on four fingers. One blister pains somewhat in hot water. It is rather hard on the dishwasher, who has blistered fingers.

Source of Pictures: Ladies Home Journal, January 1912

Source of drawings: Ladies Home Journal, January 1912

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

Grandma’s mother (Mater) probably used a treadle sewing machine to make the skirt. I wonder if the skirt had any tucks or pleats.  The January 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal had an article titled, “How to Make Tucks and Plaits.”  (A hundred years ago pleats were often called plaits.)

Here a few quotes:

  • When using a pattern there must be taken up in each tuck or plait the exact amount that was allowed by the maker of the pattern.
  • Patterns are perforated; that is, holes are punched through them at the points where the allowances have been made for forming the tucks or plaits, so that the goods may be marked at these points. . .
  • Tucks and plaits that are marked by two lines of perforations which are to be brought together in forming are easily handled as follows: Lay the goods with the marks on the wrong side up, and put a pin from the under or right side of the good up through one point and down through the other, pinning the two points together. Proceed in like manner with the other points forming the lines, and you will have the fold securely pinned and extending on the right side of the goods. Baste of the right side of the goods in line with the row of pins, and try on the garment before stitching or pressing the tucks or plaits, for the tucks or plaits may be taken up or let out so as to make the garment conform to the shape of the individual.
  • As forms vary so much in shape it may be necessary to take up goods in one tuck or plait and let out the goods in another, thus changing the shape of the garment but not changing the size.
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