Weather in Cities Across the Country: September 29, 1912

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

Sunday, September 29, 1912: Rained so that I didn’t go to Sunday School. Miss Bryson was here today having come down on the train last night.

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

I wonder if it was an all-day storm or just a brief shower. In general, the weather across the US was pretty good on September 29, 1912–though many cities got a little precipitation.


SEPTEMBER 29, 1912

Source: Minneapolis Morning Tribune, September 30, 1912

Miss Bryson refers to Blanche Bryson. She was a friend of Grandma and her sister Ruth. The Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick railroad tracks crossed the Muffly farm, and there was a whistle stop at a nearby feed mill. I’m not sure where Blanche lived in 1912, but I think that she was a teacher and probably lived outside the immediate area.

Building the Brick Road Between Watsontown and McEwensville

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

Monday, September 23, 1912:  Walked the muddy way to school this morning. Don’t have much to write these days.

Recent photo of the road that went between McEwensville and Watsontown in Grandma’s day.  . . Once dirt, then brick, and now paved. . .

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

With all the mud, it’s a good thing that Grandma got new rubber overshoes  the previous Saturday. September, 1912 must have been a rainy month.  On September 18  Grandma also wrote about the muddy walk to school.

1912 was the last year that Grandma had to walk the entire way on dirt roads.  She lived between McEwensville and Watsontown, and a brick road was apparently under construction that would replace the old dirt road.

According to George Wesner in  History in McEwensville (1976):

The brick road leading from McEwensville to Watsontown was one of the first of its kind to be built in Pennsylvania. Construction was begun at McEwsville in 1912 and completed the following year. . .

It was built by the construction firm Fiss and Christiana of Shamokin, Pennsylvania. In grading, the ground was moved by horse-drawn dump wagons which were loaded by manual labor. While some local people were employed most of the laborers were Italian immigrants. Very few could speak English. They were quartered in a labor camp which was located in a ravine on the farm of Isiah Elliot,  now owned by Samuel Raup. All the materials, sand, gravel, brick and cement were hauled by teams and horses. The only mechanical equipment used was a steam roller. . .

On an occasion when a period of bad weather had caused the operation to run behind schedule, the contractors, in an effort to catch up, requested that they work on Sunday. . . .

I wonder if the wet days that Grandma wrote about during September 1912 were when the road-building crews got behind schedule.

Grandma would have walked this road to school every day while it was being transformed from  a muddy dirt road to fancy brick one. It sounds like a major activity to me, yet she never thought it worth mentioning in the diary. Sigh. . .

How Does Catechize Differ From Catechism?

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

Sunday, September 22, 1912:  Went to S.S. this afternoon and attended Catechize.


Recent photo of the site where the McEwensville Baptist Church once stood.

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

When I read this diary entry, I got stuck on a simple vocabulary question. I remember going to “catechism” class when I was in middle school. How does “catechize” differ from “catechism”? Is it a different part of speech?

The Free Online Dictionary defines catechize as “to teach the principles of Christian dogma, discipline, and ethics by means of questions and answers.”

While catechism is “a book giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer form.”

Grandma  was 17-years-old when she wrote this entry. I’m surprised that she hadn’t completed catechize and joined the church when she was in her early teens.

Mother Remodeled Skirt

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

Saturday, September 21, 1912:  Ma made over a skirt for me. Got a pair of rubbers today.

From Bedell Company advertisement in November, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

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

I guess that Grandma’s mother was trying to save about $1.98 by making over the skirt. I can’t remember the last time I remodeled a skirt . . . or dress.  (Actually, I don’t think that I’ve ever remodeled one.) Yet, Grandma and her mother did it regularly.

On June 3, 1912, Grandma wrote:

I am trying to remodel a skirt which was once the property of the benevolent Ruthie. I’ll know whether I’ll wear it or not after it’s finished.

And, on February 24, 1912 she wrote:

I fixed over a dress for myself this afternoon. It was one of my Aunt Annie’s cast-offs. I had one trying time a getting the waist and skirt together. I have it fixed now and tried it on to see the result. I’m not so much pleased with my sewing. It seems rather short in the back.

Grandma sounded like she wasn’t very satisfied with either of her remodeling efforts, but she didn’t express any similar qualms about the skirt her mother remodeled.  Apparently her mother was more proficient at sewing than she was.


On September 18, Grandma mentioned walking to school through the rain and mud—hopefully her new rubber overshoes made the trek slightly less arduous the next time it rained.

Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickles

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

Friday, September 20, 1912:  Don’t have much for today.

watermelon pickles

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

I continue to enjoy making foods that were popular in central Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. Since Grandma didn’t write much I’ll tell you about my latest cooking endeavor.

Pickled foods were incredibly popular a hundred years ago.

I  decided to make old-fashioned watermelon pickles—and they looked lovely and tasted great.

It was a three-day process, but well worth the effort.

Old Fashioned Watermelon Pickles

4-5 quarts watermelon rind



2 cups apple cider vinegar

7 cups sugar

1 tablespoon whole cloves

3 sticks cinnamon

1 inch cube of fresh ginger

Select watermelon with a thick, firm rind. Cut off the outer green skin, and remove the red watermelon flesh, leaving a very thin layer of pink. Cut into 1-inch squares. Place in a 2 gallon glass  bowl or crock. (I used 2 smaller bowls).

Cover with a salt water solution (2 tablespoons salt to 4 quarts water). Cover and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.

After 24 hours, drain and rinse with cold water. Cover with ice water. Let stand for 1 hour, then drain.

Place the rind in a large pan, and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Put spices in a cheesecloth bag. Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in large pan. Bring to a boil. Add rind. Simmer until rind is translucent.

Put rind and syrup into large glass bowl or crock. Cover; and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature.

Remove spice bag. Drain off syrup, put into a pan, and heat to boiling.

Pack the rind into hot pint jars; cover with the hot syrup, fill to 1/4 inch of top. Wipe jar rim and put lid on.

Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Makes approximately 6 pints.

Average Salaries, 1912 and 2012

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

Tuesday, September 16, 1912:  Just about the same things done over every day with just a little change here and a little more there.

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

Both then and now– some days are just the same old, same old.

Since Grandma didn’t have much to say a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some interesting data that I found about the average salaries for selected occupations a hundred years ago and now.

The 1912 data are from an article in the September, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal titled “How Other People Live.” The current data was from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average Salaries, 1912 and 2012

average salaries, 1912 and 2012

Click on table to enlarge

Of course all the salaries are much higher now than they were back then because of inflation. But it’s interesting to compare which salaries were relatively high and which were relatively low across the two years.

Data Sources

This is what the 1912 Ladies Home Journal article said about the data sources for 1912:  “The industrial incomes were obtained from the Government’s’ investigation of the incomes of over 3,000,000 adult males. The income for public school teachers is taken from a report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1911. The salaries of city and country ministers are from the United States Census reports.”

I used the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the 2012 data. It actually was 2011 data, but I assumed that salaries haven’t changed much over the past year.

Fashion A Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today

Wednesday, September 11, 1912:  So say we call it a day again.

Fashion a Hundred Years Ago

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

Since it was another slow day for Grandma, I’d like to tell you about my latest blogging adventure.

I’ve enjoyed occasionally sharing hundred-year-old fashion pictures with you. I’ve found lots of pictures in old magazines—and can’t possibly use all of them on this site since Grandma only occasionally mentioned clothes or shopping.

I decided that it would be fun to feature a one-hundred-old fashion each day, so I started a new blog called Fashion A Hundred Years Ago.

You might want to check it out if you enjoy looking at the old fashions.


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