A Quiet July 4th

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

Saturday, July 4, 1914:  And quite a fourth it was. Saw not a single flash of even one firecracker.

Old 4th of July Postcard (circa 1914)

Old 4th of July Postcard (circa 1914)

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

Grandma’s July 4th celebrations seemed hit or miss, and very low key. The previous year, on July 4, 1913, Grandma wrote:

Wasn’t much celebrating done at this house today. I saw a balloon go up or rather I saw it after it had gone up. Saw a few fireworks this evening, but that was at a distance.

I can remember going out on the hill behind the barn when I was a child on the 4th to look for fireworks in the distance. Maybe Grandma’s family also went to a nearby hill and hoped to see fireworks from nearby towns in the distance.

Had Fun Out in the Hay Field

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

Friday, July 3, 1914:  Had a jolly good time out in the hay field. You see if you have to work, you might just as well make a good time of it.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Grandma—

More details, please. It’s hot, hard work out in the hay field. It’s awesome that you had fun, but how did you make it fun? . . . Were you teasing and joking with other workers? . . . Who else was helping make hay? . . .

Photo source: Farm Journal (July, 1914)

Photo source: Farm Journal (July, 1914)

Trotted Up to Town

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

Thursday, July 2, 1914: Ruth and I trotted up to town this evening. Didn’t want to go very bad, but Sis insisted.

McEwensville

McEwensville

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

Hey Grandma —

Did you have fun? What did you and your sister Ruth do?

(I apologize if “Hey” is just too informal a salutation to use with my grandmother, but I think of you as the teen who wrote this diary—and somehow hey seemed just right in conjunction with my questions.)

A Boring Day in a Wonderful Month

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

Wednesday, July 1, 1914:

July has come to us once more.

Bright with days of the summer time.

Laden with joys that we all may find.

Filled to the brim and running o’er.

It’s a sad way to begin a month, if you’ve forgotten all the things you did. Guess I didn’t do much for the day by the sound of the entry.DSC02847

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

The poem and the rest of the diary entry seem so diametrically opposed. Even though the month began slowly, maybe Grandma was hopeful that the reminder of the month would be busy, fun-filled, and generally awesome.

  • “sad way to begin a month” vs. “bright with days”
  • “forgotten” vs. “laden with joys”
  • “didn’t do much” vs. “filled to the brim and running o’er”

Monthly Poem

For more information about the poems that Grandma included on the first day of each month, see this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

June Flew By

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

Tuesday, June 30, 1914: It seems to me that the month of June comes and goes like a streak. The day passed like other days. Quite a few of them are alike.

DSC04324

summer

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

Grandma—

I agree! June has come and gone like a streak. (Why can’t January come and go like a streak? It always seems to go on and on and on?)

DSC07035

winter

 

Sunday School was Awfully Hot and Stuffy

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

Sunday, June 28, 1914:  Went to Sunday School this afternoon. It was held in the Town Hall as the church is not fixed up yet. It seemed like an awful stuffy place and as hot as there was any use in being.

Recent photo of McEwensville Community Hall (Town Hall)

Recent photo of McEwensville Community Hall (Town Hall)

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

The McEwensville Town Hall (or the Community Hall as it is now called) has been around for a long time—and I picture it looking very similar a hundred years ago to how it looks now.

In my imagination I can see clearly see a sweaty Grandma sitting in a folding chair fanning herself with a  church bulletin while barely listening to the a very boring Sunday School lesson.DSC04338

DSC04336

Inside of Community Hall

What was being done to remodel the McEwensville Baptist Church? The previous Monday Grandma wrote:

Had quite a time at rubbing and washing today, and it wasn’t here at home either. We are going to have the church fixed over, and it was necessary to wash off the walls. . .

 

Detained at Home to Help with Work

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

Saturday, June 27, 1914:  Was going to town this afternoon, but then was detained at home to help with the work.

Photo Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

Photo Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

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

Oh dear, Grandma, I’m so sorry. You’ve worked so hard for the last two weeks or so—first picking strawberries for wages and then helping harvest hay. A 19-year-old deserves to get Saturday afternoon off so that she can spend a little time with friends in town.

I write this while knowing in my heart that wasn’t the way farms operated. I have very clear memories of working long days when we were making hay when I was a child. Saturday often was an especially busy day, and I’m sure that it was the same when Grandma was young.

The next day was Sunday.  People didn’t work on Sunday’s back then— and there also weren’t accurate weather forecasts a hundred year ago. Grandma’s father was probably very worried that it would rain before Monday.

The old saying “make hay while the sun shines” is literally true for farmers. Farm work is very time and weather sensitive. Hay needs to be dried and brought in from the fields while the weather is good. A thunderstorm can nearly destroy a cut hay crop.

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