Visitors on a Summer Evening

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

Friday, July 18, 1913:  We had company this evening.

Source:  Ladies Home Journal

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

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

Sometimes it’s nice not to have too much detail—because it allows me to create my own mind pictures.

If I squint my eyes I can almost see Grandma, her sister Ruth,  and their parents sitting on the porch entertaining guests on a hot summer evening—and maybe serving cookies and iced tea—while her little brother Jimmie chases fireflies as dusk falls over the farm.

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Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

Tired From Picking Strawberries

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

Tuesday, June 17, 1913:  A feeling of weariness creeps o’er me, as a result of too much stooping yesterday.

Strawberries

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

I bet that Grandma was picking strawberries again. This is the third June that I’ve posted Grandma’s diary. This post makes me realize how much I’ve gotten into the ebb and flow of her life. She can merely write that she was tired from stooping–and I immediately think, “It’s June so she was picking strawberries.”

Diary entries in previous years suggest that a neighbor raised strawberries for sale and that Grandma was hired to pick them.

On June 12, 1911 Grandma wrote:

Started to pick strawberries this morning. Of course it will mean some early rising and loss of sleep, but just look at what I can earn.

And, the following year on June 10, 1912 she wrote:

This morning I picked berries and helped myself to some. I wonder if anyone saw me. . .

And, on July 1, 1912 Grandma felt rich:

Stopped picking strawberries today. All my earnings, about $4.00 in all, I still have and expect to keep until I spend them.

Old Washington DC Excursion Train Ad

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

Tuesday, June 10, 1913: Nothing much doing.

Source: Watsontown Record and Star (May 1, 1914)

Source: Watsontown Record and Star (May 1, 1914)

$3.00 LOW RATE

Sunday Excursion

Washington

Sunday, May 3

A Rare Chance to Visit the National Capital

SPECIAL TRAIN LEAVES

Williamsport . . . 12:01 A.M.

Market Street. . . 12:05 A.M.

Muncy . . . 12:30 A.M.

Montgomery. . . 12: 38 A.M.

Dewart. . . 12:47 A.M.

Watsontown . . . 12:52 A.M.

Milton. . . 1:02 A.M.

Returning, Special Train will leave Washington. . . 5:40 P.M.

The Trip of a life-time. An education as well as a delight. An opportunity to see “The Heart of the Nation,” a city of magnificent distances, unlike any other city in the country.

An Ideal Sunday Outing

See the New National Museum, Library of Congress, Capitol Building, Concoran Art Gallery, and the varied sights of Washington, “The City Beautiful.”

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

Grandma’s sister Ruth left the previous day for a week-long trip to Washington DC.

Today the 200 mile drive from McEwensville to Washington DC takes at least 3 1/2 hours. I have no idea how low the train ride was a hundred years ago.

It is not what Ruth did, but I was surprised to discover that back then there were one-day excursion trips to DC from central Pennsylvania. The train left Williamsport right after midnight—and picked up people in several nearby towns and then raced to DC. The route would be reversed in the evening.

Imagine the excitement of catching a train in the middle of the night—and pulling into Union Station at dawn. . . and seeing the capitol outlined in the early morning sunlight.

Dang—I almost put myself into the story—and was ready to book a seat on the next excursion train; then I remembered that it was 2013.

Didn’t Do Very Much (Again)

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

Saturday, June 7, 1913: Didn’t do very much today, as there wasn’t very much to do.

Recent photo of the stream that flows through the farm Grandma grew up on. The old Muffly barn is in the background--and the cows were probably pastured in this field.

Recent photo of the stream that flows through the farm where Grandma grew up. If you look really hard, you can seen the house and barn through the trees.

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

Sigh . . . Nothing happened,  AGAIN???!!!??. . . Grandma must have done something a hundred years ago today.

This is the fourth day in a row that Grandma either wrote that there wasn’t anything worth writing about or that she didn’t do very much.

There are numerous places throughout the diary where Grandma indicated that nothing happened on a certain day –but  generally this type of entry was isolated and sandwiched between entries of more substance.

What was happening (or not happening) in Grandma’s life  in June, 1913 that made her feel like she had nothing to write about? Was she too tired to write because  she was working very hard on the farm? . . . or was she bored now that the excitement over her high school graduation was long past? . . .or . . .

Birthstones, 1913 and 2013

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

Friday, June 6, 1913:  Nothing doing, therefore not worth writing about.

birthstones

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

Since Grandma again didn’t write much, I’m going to pick up where I left off yesterday. Yesterday I wrote about how an advice columnist named “Aunt Harriet”  told young men in the April, 1913 issue of Farm Journal about what they should expect to pay for a wedding and engagement ring.

Aunt Harriet bemoaned the high cost of diamond engagement rings and wrote that:

Of late years it has become quite customary to use the birthstone of the young lady for the engagement ring, and these can be had in a variety of settings and at various prices.

She continued:

The stones for the twelve months are as follows: January, garnet; February, amethyst; March, bloodstone; April, diamond; May, emerald; June moonstone; July, ruby; August, sardonyx; September, sapphire; October, opal; November, topaz; December, turquoise.

I had a vague memory that modern lists of birthstones include zircon for one of the months, so checked the American Gem Society website and found that the stones have changed for a few of the months since 1913.

cameo.ringThe 1913 August birthstone was sardonyx. It’s a banded mineral that was often carved into cameos.

Memorial Day, 1913

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

Friday, May 30, 1913:  Went up to McEwensville this morning as I planned to do some time ago. There wasn’t any band and not so many people. Wanted to go to Watsontown this afternoon to see the cemetery, but didn’t have anyone to go with. After thinking it over I decided to go as I believed I would feel miserable if I staid at home. The slippers I had on made me awful tired and began to wonder how I would get myself home. The problem was solved when I got a chance to ride where-upon I considered myself quite fortunate.

Was the McEwensville event held at the cemetery or at the Community Center?

The brick building in the background once houses McEwensville School.

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

A hundred years ago Memorial Day was always on May 30. In the 1910s it was an important holiday with lots of parades and celebrations honoring aging Civil War veterans.

It sounds like the day got off to a rocky start, but ended nicely. Did Grandma wear the new dress that her mother made? Who brought her home from Watsontown? . .. . anyone interesting?

At the Watsontown Cemetery, did Grandma put the wreath she made the previous day on the grave of her paternal grandparents?  Her grandfather, S.K. Muffly, died when she was very young; but her grandmother, Charlotte Muffly, died in 1905 when Grandma was 10. What were Grandma’s memories of her grandmother? . . . Did she miss her?

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Or maybe Grandma put the wreath on the grave of her aunt, Mary (Muffly) Fienour, who died the previous summer. (In the obituary Mary’s last name is spelled Feinour.) Mary is buried next to her mother (Charlotte).

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Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

(The fourth gravestone in the group, is the stone of Grandma’s uncle, Samuel Muffly. That stone won’t have been there in 1913–he didn’t die until 1930.)

Made a Fern Wreath

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

Thursday, May 29, 1913:  I was very much disappointed this morning. I had planned where to go tomorrow with a friend and then received a letter saying she couldn’t come. I made a wreath this afternoon and hunted up some wild ferns.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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

It’s upsetting when friends cancel—but at least Grandma came up with a fun activity that hopefully took her mind off her disappointment.

Have you ever seen a fern wreath? I don’t think that I ever have and can’t quite picture what it would look like.  How long would it last?

A hundred years ago Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30, so Grandma may have made the wreath to take the cemetery for the upcoming holiday. I’ve always purchased wreathes to take to the cemetery.  How did people make them years ago?

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