Harvesting and Storing Potatoes a Hundred Years ago

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

Thursday, October 2, 1914:  Picked taters this afternoon.

Late Potato Varieties a Hundred Years Ago--Source: Vegetable Gardening (1914)

Late Potato Varieties -Source: Vegetable Gardening (1914)

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

Grandma-

I guess it’s back to reality today. I hope that you’re at least thinking about all the fun you had yesterday at the Milton Fair while you’re stooping to gather potatoes. It sounds like tiring, back-breaking work.

—-

Here’s what a hundred-year-old book said about harvesting and storing potatoes:

There is a great difference in the keeping qualities of varieties; as a rule the early kinds are hard to keep from sprouting in the latter part of the winter, and the late kinds keep the best.

Early potatoes are generally dug as soon as they are big enough for cooking; for winter use it is very desirable to have the tubers well ripened; if not ripe the skin will peel off when handled, and they do not look good.

When potatoes are high in price it may pay to dig them by hand, for which purpose tined garden forks are desirable. When potatoes are cheap they can be plowed out; though when plowed out some tubers will get covered up; most of these may be brought to the surface by the use of a straight tooth harrow.

Early Potato Varieties

Early Potato Varieties

If the tubers are keeping well in the ground, it is a good plan to delay the digging until the cool weather of autumn, when they may be carried directly from the field to the cellar. If they are rotting in the ground or are “scabby,” they should be dug at once, and if the cellar is cool they may be put at once into it, otherwise it is a good plan to pit them in the field until cool weather comes.

Pitting in mild weather is done by putting the tubers into heaps and covering them with straw or hay and a few inches of loam. The straw should be allowed to stick out along the top of the heap for ventilation, so as to allow the moisture to pass off.

In the colder weather of late autumn, the covering, of course, should be heavier, and when potatoes have ceased to sweat there is no need of ventilation. In milder sections, potatoes are stored through the winter in such pits, but it is impracticable farther north.

If kept in the cellar the bins are improved by having slatted floors and sides, so that there may be some circulation of air through them to prevent heating at the bottom. The bins should not be large nor more than five feet deep.

Vegetable Gardening (1914) by Samuel B. Green

A Day at the Milton Fair

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

Thursday, October 1, 1914:

The days of fall and summer’s last farewell,

When the flowers must droop and slowly fade away.

Time changes. October now is here again,

And sweet summer can no longer with us stay.

Spent the day at the Milton Fair. We had seats on the grand stand. That was the first time I was on one. Don’t get so tired and see a great deal more. Was late getting home, as the trains behind time.

Milton Fairgrounds Grandstand (Photo was taken in the early 1920s) Source: Milton History.org

Milton Fairgrounds Grandstand (Photo was taken in the early 1920s) Source: Milton History.org

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

Grandma-

What fun! Who were you with in the grand stand? . . . your sister Ruth? . . . friends?

It sounds like the perfect day (even if the trains were running late).

For those of you who are familiar with the area, the Milton Fairgrounds were located along the road between Milton and Watsontown near the current site of the Wynding Brook Golf Club.

Grandma began each month with a poem. For more about the poems, see this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

Airplanes at Fairs

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

Tuesday, September 29 –Wednesday, September 30, 1914: Guess I’ll have to commence writing about the weather. Well the weather should come in for its share of notice. You see this is fair week. I mean one with a capital F.

Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

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

Grandma dated this diary entry for two days—September 29 and 30. Fairs a hundred years ago were very exciting. For example, in 1912, Grandma saw an airplane at the Milton Fair:

 . . .Saw a flying machine whirling aloft in the air for at least 10 minutes. I think twas quite a sight to see.

October 3, 1912

Airplanes apparently were the fad de jour at fairs in the 1910s. Here’s part of a story in the June, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal:

Whether Pigs Have Wings: What Anne Found Out When Mrs. Stevens Flew to the County Fair

On the morning of the County Fair, Mrs. Stevens shortened the Scripture reading, and; and she put the Bible aside, she murmured: “Had I the wings then I would fly.”

“Well, Mother,” said her husband, “keep your eye peeled an’ you’ll likely see an airyplane goin’ over to the Fair. It seems too bad not to take you.”

“Well the buckboard only holds two, you to drive an’ Jed to lead Daisy. She’s got to go if she’s to the get prize as best milker, an’ I can’t hold onto her rope all the way. “

Mrs. Stevens gave the horse a lump of sugar and watched the buckboard slowly precede Dairy, the “prize milker” down the drive to the hedge gate. After Peter’s departure, she hied herself to the back porch to watch whatever might fly by. “Always there are birds and clouds, and today p’haps an airship,” she thought with a thrill and the enthusiasm that made her seventy years young.

Mrs. Stevens, shelling peas on the back porch, screened by hollyhocks, suddenly became all ears. The air was filled with a gigantic whirring.

“Bees swarming,” was her first thought, “or a new sort of auto; it must be coming over the roof then.”

It was and it did. A huge shadow fell, and Mrs. Stevens, placing her pan of peas on the settle, stepped out beyond the hollyhocks as an airship sailed over the garden trees and over the orchard, before she gasped at the wonder of it. Hovering over the meadow it half circled, lowering.

Gently it came to stillness on the green meadow grass. Mrs. Stevens hastened back to the porch and snatched her blue sunbonnet, hurried to the woodshed and took a tin can; then down the sloping path under the apple trees she sped as fast as her prunella shoes could patter.

When she came out of the orchard she could see a man leaning over the body of the aeroplane. As she drew nearer the man stood and shaded his eyes with his hand; in his other hand she would see a can like that she carried. Taking off his cap he said: “Pray give us some of your oil, Wise Virgin.”

“I am a married woman,” said Mrs. Stevens calmly.

“And all the wiser for that, Madam,” he replied, bowing. “But how do you happen to come with the one thing I wished for?”

Pauline Stevens had come closer to the wonder and laid a timid hand upon a wing. “It’s the first one I’ve seen,” she exclaimed, “and it’s just like the pictures.”

“It was the best landing field within reach while my oil lasted. How I ever forget to fill my cup I don’t know; but thanks to you I’m fixed now. What is your name, please, that I may return the oil tomorrow?”

“I’m Mrs. Stevens, but don’t return the oil. It’s some Horace Russell left two years ago when he kept his car in our barn, and my husband doesn’t want it.”

“If you don’t know about air machines, Mrs. Stevens, what inspired you to bring the can?”

“Oh, I read that one of ‘em ‘alighted to renew his oil supply.”

You were evidently born with that rare gift, gumption, Madam. How can I thank you?” He smiled whimsically. “Will you fly with me?”

“Is it an offer?” She demanded quickly.

“An offer? Surely! But—I think you mentioned a Mr. Stevens.”

“Now you’re a foolin’. But if you didn’t mean me to fly with you I wouldn’t be mean enough to take you up.’

“But I’ll take you up with pleasure if you would really like to try it.”

She nipped her seersucker skirt, exposing plump prunella-clad ankles. “It’s my chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Can I get right in?”

You’re a sport,” exclaimed Rodney warmly. “Here’s an extra coat; it’s cooler up there.” . . .

Fair Week

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

Tuesday, September 29–Wednesday, September 30, 1914: Guess I’ll have to commence writing about the weather. Well the weather should come in for its share of notice. You see this is fair week. I mean one with a capital F.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 21, 1914)

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 21, 1914)

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

Grandma—

Yeah! It’s Fair (with a capital F) week!  The Milton Fair will be sooo much fun. According to last week’s paper there will be a band, a public telephone booth, and fast horses . . . AND (sigh)  to keep parents happy, the fair will have a moral tone with no wheels of fortune.

Took Black Velvet Up to Town

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

Monday, September 28, 1914: One week and some days later. Looks as if my pen had been on a vacation. To tell the truth I am getting tired on writing in this. Nothing nice and sentimental to jot down. Took my black velvet up town to have the trimmings re-arranged.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

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

Grandma—

We’re glad your pen is back from its vacation. But do tell, why does your black velvet (dress?) need the trimmings rearranged? Is there a special event coming up? . . . Is there a special guy?

Squash Varieties a Hundred Years Ago

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

Sunday, September 27, 1914: <<no entry>>

Source: Vegetable Gardening (1910) by Samuel B. Green

Picture Source: Vegetable Gardening (1914) by Samuel B. Green

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

Sigh. .. Another day with no diary entry. so here’s a trivia question:

Question: Did Grandma’s family eat butternut squash? . . . zucchini?

Answer: no

I found a picture of squash varieties in a hundred-year-old book on vegetable gardening—and was surprised that it did not include either butternut or zucchini squash.

I then did a little research and was amazed to discover that neither butternut nor zucchini was available in the US a hundred years ago.

The Silvia International website states:

Butternut squash, also known in some countries as the butternut pumpkin, is the most popular of the winter squash, and was originally developed in Massachusetts in the 1940s.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia:

The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly brought over by Italian immigrants and probably was first cultivated in the United States in California.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Attractive Ways to Curtain Door Windows

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

Friday, September 25, 1914: <<no entry>>

1914-10-104 aGlass doors are now very popular for the inside of the house. A good curtain treatment for these doors when they go from the dining room into the living room is shown here. A thin silk or net is often stretched from rods top and bottom to break the view while the dining table is being set. This treatment adds a charm and an interest to the doors.

Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred-years-ago today, I thought that you might enjoy seeing some examples from 1914 of how to attractively curtain windows on doors.

1914-10-104 b

A simple and pleasing treatment for the inside of a Colonial doorway is shown. Either scrim, net, or thin muslin may be used. Both the door curtains and the side-window curtains are stretched from brass rods at the top and bottom. This arrangement keeps the curtains in place. The fanlight above the door is also treated in an attractive way. The best method of arranging this is to have a heavy wire frame made to fit the semi-circular window. The material can then be easily attached to it and the wire frame adjusted to the window.

Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

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