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?

New Dress Finished

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

Wednesday, May 28, 1913:  My dress is finished and ready to wear whenever that time comes.

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Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

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

Based on how quickly Grandma’s mother made the dress, she must have been an accomplished seamstress. On May 24, Grandma wrote:

Ma started to make my dress I got for a graduation present. I want it finished by May 30th.

Grandma’s mother made the dress in only 5 days! . . . and she beat the deadline her daughter imposed by 2 days!

Have Grandma’s plans changed?  On the 24th she seemed certain that she needed the dress by the 30th—now the dress is “ready to wear whenever that time comes.”

Three More Graduation Gifts

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

Friday, May 23, 1913:  It was rather a dreary day today. Got three more presents today. Mother was up to Turbotville and brought them home with her. Wish it would stop raining soon.

John and Sarah Derr with daughter Annie (circa 1900)

John and Sarah Derr with daughter Annie (circa 1900)

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

Grandma’s graduation gifts sure straggled in over a long period of time. She graduated from McEwensville High School on April 23, 1913—exactly one month before this diary entry.

The presents probably were from her grandparents and an aunt. Grandma’s maternal grandparents, John and Sarah Derr lived in Turbotvile.

Grandma also had at least one aunt—Annie Van Sant— who lived in Turbotville. Aunt Annie was grandma’s mother’s youngest sister. She was married to a doctor, but had no children.  Based upon previous entries, I have the impression that Aunt Annie tended to give very nice gifts.

I wonder how many graduation gifts in total Grandma received.  On May 4, she wrote:

Although it is over a week since commencement, I received a present today. Making eighteen in all.

So,  Grandma received at least 21 gifts—the previous 18 plus the additional 3.

Tried to Make Sister Miserable

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

Wednesday, May 21, 1913:  Didn’t feel very well with morning, so I tried to take it out in making Ruthie miserable. Although I don’t I succeeded.

Ruth Muffly

Ruth Muffly

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

What did Grandma do to her sister Ruth? It must have been pretty bad if she admitted that she wasn’t nice in the diary.

Usually when Grandma and her sister Ruth weren’t getting along, Grandma would use her author’s prerogative and blame the problem on Ruth—though Grandma generally called Ruth, Rufus when she was angry.

For example, on October 28, 2012 Grandma wrote:

 Got mad at the Rufus tonight. I think she can be so mean sometimes.

And, on June 5, 2012 she wrote:

Trotted up to McEwensville this morning on an errand for Rufus, the dear little mortal.

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