Window Pane Tore Dress

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

Friday, August 28, 1914:  Ruth and I went to town on the train this morning. I was to bring some things home that she didn’t want to bother with. By good fortune I got an auto ride and tore my dress on a pane of glass I was carrying.

window pane

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


Did you want to go to town with your sister Ruth to bring things home that she “didn’t want to bother with”? . . . .or did your parents make you go?

Somehow it doesn’t seem like an older sister should be able to force her younger sister to carry a pane of glass. It sounds dangerous. Did you break a window?

At least you got to go into town . . . and, you got an AUTO RIDE! What fun! Overall it sounds like an okay day—except for the torn dress. Is it repairable? . . . or is it ruined?

A Camp for the Family

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

Monday, August 24 – Thursday, August 27, 1914:  For lack of something to write.

DSC09256 c

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific a hundred years ago today–and I’m focused on enjoying the last few days of summer—I thought you might enjoy some photos from a hundred-year-old issue of Ladies Home Journal showing an example of how some families enjoyed a summer vacation at a “camp.”

A Camp for the Family

This family camp, situated on an island in Lake Ontario, successfully carried on for some years past has brought happiness to all families privileged to join it, and its beneficial effects in promoting the harmony of home life are observable throughout the year.

Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

swimming 1914

chatting at camp

1914 woman with fish

woman camping

Hundred-year-old Toiletry Bags

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

Monday, August 24 – Thursday, August 27, 1914:  For lack of something to write.

1914 Toiletry bag

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

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

Good grief, Grandma! Please tell us what you are thinking and doing! We so enjoyed what you wrote about your vacation; and now that we know how well you can write, it seems even more disappointing than it used to when you say nothing happened.

Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for this date, I thought that you might enjoy seeing several hundred –year-old toiletry bags that people could get patterns for from Ladies Home Journal. (Maybe Grandma made one before she went on her trip.)

When You Travel This Summer

Whether you are going on a long or a short trip you will want those little aids to comfort and beauty that are so handy at home. Descriptions of these useful articles, which may be easily made at home, and other helpful suggestions for the comfort and convenience of the summer traveler, will be mailed, upon request, for five cents. Write to the Needlework Editors, The Ladies Home Journal, Independence Square, Philadelphia.

Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

1914 toiletry bag

1914 Toiletry bag

Had to Get Up Early for a Sunday

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

Sunday, August 23, 1914:  Had to get up pretty early this morning. I usually get up late on Sunday morning. Went to Sunday School this afternoon.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 1, 1914)

Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 1, 1914)

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

The trip to Niagara Falls is over, and it’s back to reality. I’m a little confused by this entry.

I have the impression that Grandma and her sister Ruth generally milked several cows each morning. Cows need to be milked at approximately the same time each day—so why did Grandma need to get up earlier than usual this morning?

Here’s my guess, but others may have other more plausible scenarios—

Maybe Grandma and Ruth’s parents gave them “Sunday mornings off” and milked the cows for the sisters so they could sleep in. However, their parents probably did all of their chores (including milking the cows twice a day) while the girls were on the trip. So maybe it was now payback time, and Grandma and Ruth lost their usual Sunday morning off.

What do you think? Does this seem like it is a possible scenario?

Have a Thinner Pocketbook

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

Saturday, August 22, 1914: A cousin came on the train this afternoon. Am recovering from the effects of my trip through the worst one is a thinner pocketbook. It will take it quite awhile to get it fattened up, so as not to look quite so hollow.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1914)

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

Grandma arrived home from her trip to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Buffalo, and Watkins Glen the previous evening. In that diary entry, she wrote:

. . . I don’t believe I spent more than $20, coming out better than I expected. . .

Vacations can be hard on pocketbooks—though the previous day she seemed pleased how little she spent during the trip; but apparently it was enough to continue to worry her.

According to an online inflation calculator, a dollar in 1914 would be worth about $23.81 today. So in today’s dollars Grandma spent about $475—which doesn’t seem too bad for a 5-day trip, but maybe was a lot for a 19-year-old.

I wonder how Grandma planned to replenish her pocketbook. In the past, she earned money by picking strawberries. For example, on July 1, 1912 she wrote:

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

It would take a lot of strawberry picking to “fatten” her pocketbook—and, of course, strawberry season was over for the year.

. . . Or maybe she hoped that her cow Mollie would have another bull calf she could sell. For example, on December 27, 1912 she wrote:

Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56.

Cows typically have calves about once a year, so maybe the pocketbook will be partially replenished before too long.

Hmm. . . on second thought, given Grandma’s situation on the farm, $20 was a lot to spend on a vacation.

Watkins Glen and Then Home

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

Friday, August 21, 1914: We breakfasted about seven this morning, after which we started out on our tour through the glen. I was so disappointed that I could not get any pictures. The day was so gloomy. They wouldn’t have been good, so I just had to swallow it. The glen proved to be almost as wonderful as Niagara Falls. We climbed stairs after stairs, and still seemed to be no nearer the top.

When we got part way through, it commenced to rain, but still we kept on for we were determined to see the place. At one spot the water rushes down over the passageway. We ran past this and managed not to get wet. This place is called Rainbow Falls for when the sun shines they say it forms a rainbow. How I wish I could have seen it, but the sun kept himself hid that morning. I am afraid my hat is well nigh ruined from the wetting it got, and Ruthie’s also.

We arrived at the station and still had about fifteen minutes to wait for the train. It stopped raining towards noon, and when we reached Williamsport it was as bright as it would be. I believe I was really glad to get home. Nothing had run away during our absence. I don’t believe I spent more than $20, coming out better than I expected. I will always have the memory of this trip, and the fact that it was enjoyed.

watkins glen rainbow falls 1916

Old postcard showing Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen

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

What an awesome trip! I can’t add anything to Grandma’s wonderful descriptions, so I’m not going to even try. :)

Visited Toronto and Buffalo

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

Wednesday, August 19, 1914:  We got up pretty early this morning, so as to be in time for the train at Lewistown. As I walked down the gangplank, I caught sight of the boat that was to take us to Toronto. Thought it was a fine one. The Chippewa was soon steaming down the river, and e’er long, we were on the broad bosom of Lake Ontario. The ride proved to be delightful, even though I did get a little chilly.

We arrived in Toronto about eleven, and were conveyed around the city in an automobile. We passed many beautiful places. There seemed to be a great many banks in the city. They must have lots of money there. We stopped at the State House, and were allowed to spend ten minutes within the building. I was impressed with the beauty of the architecture. Pillars of marble reached from ceiling to floor. Many paintings of men were suspended from the walls. These we could only glance at for our ten minute stay was soon up.

We took dinner at a restaurant after which we left at once for the dock. We did not have to wait long for a returning boat. Came home on the Cayuga, a larger boat than the Chippewa. We arrived in Lewistown late in the afternoon. There we took the train and went on to Buffalo. We arrived there about six, got our supper and started out for the home of a friend. It was dark when we reached our destination. This friend is a governess in an Orphan’s Asylum. She showed us her kids that evening. She has about thirty. Nearly all of them were fast asleep, but she woke them up any way. Thought it was rather hard on the youngsters, but it seems they were used to it.

This friend secured us a boarding place, and we left for it at eleven o’clock. I was ready to go to sleep when my head touched the pillow.

Old Ontario Government House postcard

Old Ontario Government House postcard

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

Wow, what an adventure! Grandma and the “gang” sure crammed a lot into one day.

I think that the “State House” that Grandma visited in Toronto was the Fourth Government House of Ontario (Chorley Park). According to Wikipedia, it was the home of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Upper Canada. It was built between 1911 and 1915, and was “one of the most expensive residences ever constructed in Canada at the time.” Wikipedia continued:

During the Great Depression, Mitchell Hepburn made it a key component of his party’s election platform to close Chorley Park, promising that an opulent palace would not be maintained by the taxpayers of Ontario; Chorley Park used 965 tons of coal to operate, whereas the average Toronto home used only six to seven. After Hepburn was appointed Premier, following the Liberal Party’s victory in the 1936 provincial election, he was as good as his word and ensured that Albert Edward Matthews would be the last Ontario Lieutenant Governor to live in an official residence; in 1937, after only 22 years and seven viceroys, Chorley Park was closed. The contents of the house were auctioned off in 1938, bringing in a profit of $18,000.

The estate was bought by the federal government and served various functions including as a military hospital during World War II, the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto, and residence for refugees of the 1956 Hungarian uprising.

Under Mayor Nathan Phillips in 1960, the City of Toronto bought the house for $100,000 in order to destroy it and create municipal parkland. At the time, Chorley Park was considered dilapidated and outmoded, and municipal dollars were being spent demolishing heritage structures throughout Toronto to make room for modern buildings. The building was demolished in 1961, and the grounds of the estate were added to the civic parks system.

The Buffalo Orphan’s Asylum may have been St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum. According to the Buffalo Spree:

At the turn of the century and for at least forty years afterwards, St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum was a thriving institution—it did not just house orphaned girls; it educated them and provided them with technical training so that they could become self-supporting. In the nineteenth century, this was considered an innovative concept. Their dressmaking school often provided ballgowns and trousseaux for Buffalo’s wealthiest women. But as the twentieth century progressed, government assistance for dependent children increased, and the new trend of foster care emerged, so in 1948, after housing and training 10,000 young women, the orphanage closed.

Source: Buffalo Spree

Recent photo of building that once housed St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum  (Source: Buffalo Spree)



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