Tacky Old-Fashioned Match Holders

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

Friday, December 15, 1911:Our entertainment is over at last. That dialogue went off alright. I didn’t forget any of my part although I was rather doubtful about it. As I rather expected before hand, we all received a Christmas present from Jake. It was a post card with his picture on it. Last year he gave girls little china dishes with Japanese on them and the boys match holders containing matches.

Maybe the boys got a  China Bald Head Match Holder or a China Scratch Me Match Holder the previous year. Ugh–Somehow giving match holders just don’t work for me.

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

A hundred years ago today was the last day of School for Grandma before the Christmas break. Winter breaks apparently were longer back then than they are now.

It sounds like the students had fun doing the dialogue—Grandma had been working at learning her part since the 5th.

I can’t imagine a teacher giving students match holders today. I wonder why the boys needed them—to light stoves or candles? . . . or perhaps some of them smoked.

Hundred-Year-Old Rubber Boot Advertisement

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

Thursday, December 14, 1911: Oh dear! I do wish it would snow. I’m getting tired of tramping through the mud all the time. Get provoked at a problem in Arith. It looked so easy, but I couldn’t get it. I’ll try tomorrow again and perhaps I’ll succeed.

Men probably wore boots like this when tramping around the farm through the mud. Grandma probably had galoshes that she pulled over her shoes. (Source:  Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine, September 15, 1911)


Sloshing around in wet and mud is no fun, but a pair of good, stout rubber boots, which you always depend on, makes it a lot easier.

Get the easy, comfortable, long-wearing kind—the



Rubber Boots

We have been making rubber boots for 45 years, often as many as 10,000 pairs a day—in the only exclusive rubber boot mill in the U.S.

We make boots for men, women, and children: hip boots, knee boots, short boots—all kinds. One man who bought a pair 28 years ago wrote us that they were still good.

All Dealers.


Woonsocket, R.I.

[An aside–I can’t even imagine a company today advertising that a pair of boots might last 28 years. I guess that some things were just made better a hundred years ago!]

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

Yuck—the mud sounds awful. This is the third time that Grandma’s mentioned mud in her December diary entries . . . and the eleventh time that she’s mentioned it since she began the diary in January 1911.

(If you would like to read her previous entries on this topic—type the word mud into the search box near the top of this page.)

Mud was a huge problem a hundred years ago.  There would have muddy areas between the house and barn on the farm.  And, the roads, both in McEwensville and the surrounding rural areas, were not yet paved in 1911.

What Was the Teacher’s Last Name?

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

Tuesday, December 12, 1911: Jake says we have to study harder. It seems to me such tiresome work, but I suppose I could if I tried hard enough. I guess I staid up longer tonight than I did last night, although it is not so very late now.

Lots of resources--none of which answer my question.

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

I’m continually amazed how many mysteries about Grandma’s life as a teen-ager I’ve been able to resolve (at least to my own satisfaction) with a little research. However, occasionally I’m totally baffled by things that I feel like I should be able to figure out. Today is one of those days–.

What was Jake’s last name?

The History of the McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm indicates that the teacher during the 1910-11 school year was Howard Northrop; and that there were two teachers during the 1911-12 school year—Howard Northrop and D. Forest Dunkle.  And, Leon Hagenbuch in his History of McEwensville lists the same teachers. I suppose they both used the same source—sigh.

I’m not getting anything close to Jake out of those names –but maybe Howard went by a nickname. Grandma’s referred to her teacher several times in the diary as Jake or Jakie. I wonder if she called him Jake to his face or it he was Mr. ____.

Jake seems to be very young for a teacher and almost one of the gang. For example, in the fall Grandma and other girls teased him about drawing a picture of a diamond ring, and the previous winter he fell through the ice while skating one evening with students.

Another 1911 Christmas Gift Idea: Make a Handbag

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

Monday, December 11, 1911: Nothing much to write about.

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much today, I’ll share some more photos of Christmas gift ideas from the 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

“Girl’s handy bag for school. It is crocheted of mercerized thread and lined with heavy green linen.”

(An aside—I love this bag. I had one that looked almost like it when I was in junior high. I think that a great aunt made it for me—though I can’t remember with certainty which one.

“A Japanese silk handkerchief was used to make this pretty bag. The handles are embroidery hoops.”

Hundred-Year-Old Recipe for Coconut Hot Chocolate

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

Sunday, December 10, 1911: Went to Sunday School this morning. Ruth as usual was on the go again today. She and Rachel had to go off to visit Miss Bryson. Went over to Carrie’s this afternoon. Had to walk through the mud and a sticky kind it proved to be. To do Ruthie’s share of the milking was my fate tonight. You see I must treat her accordingly, as Christmas is approaching.

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

Yuck—it’s not fun having to do a sibling’s share of the milking.

Here are the complete names of the friends that the Muffly girls visited: Rachel Oakes, Blanche Bryson, and Carrie Stout.

I wonder if Blanche or Carrie might have made hot drinks to serve their friends. (Plus I’m still enjoying trying 100-year-old recipes for hot drinks that appeared in an article called “Hot Drinks for the Holiday Season” that was in the December, 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping), so I’m going to give you another recipe today.)

I few days ago I made Mulled Fig Juice (Ginger Cordial). Here’s the recipe for Coconut Hot Chocolate:

Coconut Milk Chocolate [Coconut Hot Chocolate]

Heat a quart of milk in the double boiler, and when very hot stir in four heaping tablespoons of grated, unsweetened chocolate, moistened with a little cold water; allow it to boil and thicken; have ready nearly a pint of coconut milk into which has been stirred half a cupful of sugar and the whites of two eggs; add this to the chocolate and cook for a few moments but do not allow it to boil. Remove from the fire and serve in chocolate cups, adding after it is poured into the cups a tablespoonful of sweetened whipped cream, which has been mixed with a little grated coconut.

Coconut Hot Chocolate is delicious—though extremely sweet.

Recipe Notes

I didn’t use a double boiler. Instead I used medium heat and stirred the milk constantly.

I poured the hot chocolate through a strainer before serving because I had problems with some of the egg white coagulating when I heated it. Maybe I didn’t stir rapidly enough when I added the coconut mixture to the hot milk.  If I made the recipe again—I might just skip the egg white.

I skipped the whipped cream topping—but it sounds like it would be good.

Craft Idea: Make an Old-Fashioned Paper Christmas Tree

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

Friday, December 8, 1911: Had such a vexatious time with Jimmie. He fell down in the mud at noon and he was covered from top to toe, but I succeeded in making a slight improvement on him. Then coming home he lost one of his rubbers and I had to go back after it.

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

The primary school was on the first floor of the McEwensville School building–and the high school was on the second floor. Grandma’s 6-year-old brother Jimmie was a first grader at the school. I suppose someone came upstairs and got her when Jimmie got muddy.

Little brothers can be a pain sometimes—but Grandma probably also sometimes did fun things with Jimmie. Maybe Grandma helped Jimmie make Christmas crafts.

Here are directions to make a paper Christmas tree.

Fold two sheets of green construction paper together and cut out 2 Christmas trees.

Unfold the trees and staple together on the fold. (A hundred years ago, they may have sewed the trees together on the fold.)

Cut “decorations” out of the old Christmas cards and glue on the tree. Glue the small buttons on the tree to make ornaments (Don’t use too many or the tree might get top-heavy and not stand properly.)

Stand the tree up, and use a small piece of decorative cord or other bric-a-brac to make a garland.

(An aside–One thing that I really like about the old days is how people routinely re-purposed items that were around the house to make decorations.)

1911 Advertisements for Christmas Gifts

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

Wednesday, December 6, 1911: Have my part of the dialogue well under way. You may think I’m smart, but I haven’t much to say. I’m commencing to get streaks of thinking what I’ll buy for Xmas presents. My pocketbook is limited so I’ll have to make a careful list beforehand.

Maybe Grandma thought about buying bracelets for her sisters. (Ad Source: A portion of a Merry Mason Company  advertisement in The Youth’s Companion, December 7, 1911)

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

Grandma was memorizing a dialogue for a school “entertainment” that was to be held before the Christmas break.

Let’s see—Grandma probably needed to buy gifts for at least seven people: her mother, her father, her sister Ruth, her little brother Jimmie, her married sister Besse, her brother-in-law Curt, and her best friend Carrie Stout.  Whew, I can see how that it could be expensive.

How about slippers for brother-in-law Curt? (Ad source: Ladies Home Journal, December, 1911)

In many ways the young woman who wrote the diary seems very different from the elderly grandmother that I remember—but this is one place where I can really recognize my grandmother. She always worried about money and I can picture her carefully planning what she would purchase before she went shopping.

And, maybe a glass candle holder for Mother? (Ad source: Ladies Home Journal, December, 1911)


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