A Birthday Tradition

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

Thursday, January 19, 1911: Pulled Miss Muffly’s ears first thing this morning, whether she liked it or not. Bout all I can do to fish up enough things to knock down. My life has reached an uneventful state or period with all its calm ripples. I almost forgot, I got a new pair of rubbers today which I needed very bad.

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

I’m guessing that Miss Muffly refers to Grandma’s sister Ruth. And, that January 19 was Ruth’s birthday. According to the 1900 Ruth was born in January 1892, so this must have been her 19th birthday. Grandma probably woke Ruth by pulling her ears.

When I was a child my parents told me that in the old days people used to pull the birthday person’s ear lobes one time for each year, but that I shouldn’t pull ears since it might damage the person’s hearing (which, of course, gave me the idea that it might be fun to pull ears—but that is another story).

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