Stores Closed on Labor Day a Hundred Years Ago

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

Monday, September 7, 1914:  A foolish girl I was today. Took it into my head that I wanted to go to town to buy some things this afternoon. Well I went. Rode in with Pa. While on the way I thought it will be altogether useless, as the store would not be open since it was Labor Day.

Recent Photo of Watsontown

Recent photo of  downtown Watsontown

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

Labor Day? . . . Oh, of course, this was the first Monday in September in 1914. This year Labor Day was on the earliest possible date; in 1914 it was the latest possible date.

Stores are open around here on Labor Day.  In 1914,  it must have been a bigger deal if stores were closed– though it apparently was a bit random whether schools were open. In 1912, Grandma wrote:

Had to go to school, even if it is labor day. We had this day off last year. . .

September 2, 1912

Took Trolley to Montandon

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

Sunday, September 6, 1914:   The whole family spent the day down at Aunt Lizzie’s. Ruth and I went down on the trolley. I took my camera along and had a shot at the crowd in the afternoon. Walked out from town this evening. Felt that I was benefited by my jaunt for I had eaten too many good things for dinner.

DSC03708.cropped b

Grandma would have ridden the trolley from Watsontown to Milton, and then continued on to Montandon. (Postcard Source: Milton Historical Society)

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


What a fun Sunday! It sounds like an almost perfect day.

Aunt Lizzie was a sister of Grandma’s father, Albert Muffly and a previous diary entry indicated that she lived at Montandon. I’m not sure who she married. Montandon is located about 8 miles southeast of the Muffly farm.

Montandon map

Recent map of the area

I’m amazed at all the transportation options that were available in a fairly rural area a hundred years ago. Back then there was a trolley that ran from Watsontown to Lewisburg with stops at several intermediate locations including Milton and Montandon.

Apparently Grandma and her sister Ruth walked a mile and a half or so from their farm near McEwensville to Watsontown, and then boarded the trolley. Probably the rest of the family traveled via horse and buggy.

Hundred-year-old Advice: What Should I Feed My Family?

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

Saturday, September 5, 1914: Ditto

vegetables 1

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

The previous day Grandma wrote, “Nothing much for today.” Since nothing was happening in Grandma’s life I thought you might enjoy some quotes from an article on nutrition in the July, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal:

Since the members of the family have to be fed three times a day for each of the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, how to feed them is a subject worthy of consideration, is it not?

The very best meal planning, of course, is that based on a thorough knowledge of human nutrition, but we housewives cannot all of us get that accurate training. The thing to strive for in feeding your family is what is called “the balanced rations.” Adults and children have very different food needs, brain workers and body workers have still different ones, and surely I do not need to tell you that the sick and the well require diets of quite opposite character.

Muscular work demands energy-and-iron-producing food, such as meats, starch-producing things, sugar, and fats. Therefore you are safe in letting the man folks have their buckwheat cakes and sausages, and pie and doughnuts in reason. Children need bone-and tissue-building foods, so see to it that they get plenty of milk, eggs, cereals, vegetables and fruit, with meat and sweets sparely. Brain workers need easily digestible foods and a lighter diet than people who work with their hands. Give the invalids mainly nutritious liquids, and your boarders whatever they want.

None of this is so difficult as it seems, if you keep in mind that certain kinds of food have uses for nearly all of the family, and can be served for general consumption at the general table. The foundations of all living tissues are in milk, eggs, cheese, meat, legumes, nuts, and cereals. This gives you a basis to go on, and you can add to the list foods for special needs and vary the menu with great variety. Keep in mind that the greatest medicinal agents are vegetables and fruits; include them in the family dietary the year round and you will not go far astray.

Quinces for Sale

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

Friday, September 4, 1914: Nothing much for today.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to finally post something I wrote in September, 2011, but never posted. The story is about quinces. At the time I planned to buy some quinces, make some quince jelly, and then include the following story in the post. But I couldn’t find any quinces that year, so I never used the story.

And, in 2012 and 2013, I again scoured farmers markets and farm stands looking for quinces—but never found any, so I again never used the story. This year, I once more haven’t found any quinces, but I decided that it’s a memory worth sharing even if I can’t tie it to a recipe. Here goes—

Grandma never learned how to drive—and after she became a widow when she was in her early 70s, family members took her shopping, to appointments, and to church. Each Sunday my uncle brought her to church in McEwensville, and my family took her home.

One Sunday that stands out in my memory is a crisp, sunny late summer or early fall day when we drove past a weathered house on the way home from church. A woman, whom I’ll call Flora, lived in the house.

Grandma noticed ripe quinces on some small trees in Flora’s overgrown yard, and said, “I wish I had some quinces. I’d like to make some jelly.”

Several days later my mother stopped at Flora’s and asked if she could buy some quinces. Flora never had much money,  and she happily sold Mom a grocery bag full of quinces for several dollars. Mom took the quinces over to Grandma’s and was astonished to see freshly filled jelly jars–jars filled with homemade quince jelly– on Grandma’s kitchen counter.

Surprised, Mom asked Grandma where she had gotten the quinces. Grandma said, “Oh, I walked over to Flora’s and bought them.”

We were amazed that our elderly grandmother had walked two miles or so to buy quinces, and then lugged a heavy bag of them home.

The next Sunday Grandma said, “It’s strange how everyone’s giving me quinces this year. Marjorie [her daughter] brought me some yesterday.”

A few days later we drove by Flora’s house. There were two  large hand-painted wooden signs in her yard that said Quinces for Sale. Three people seeking to buy quinces apparently led Flora to think that there was a market for them—and she probably never realized that they all were for the same person. I wonder if she sold any more after the signs went up.

After looking for quinces for four years now, I wish that Flora and her quinces were still around. I’d be her best customer.

Photo of Happy Women

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

Thursday, September 3, 1914:  My pictures arrived this morning. I was more than satisfied with the result and could hardly keep my eyes off of them the whole day. One picture especially is a beauty. It is a picture of the girls sitting on the rocks, and all three are laughing.

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order; of the women)

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order of the women)

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

I’m only aware of one photo that Grandma took which still exists, and I find it amazing that Grandma again mentioned it in the diary. Grandma must have had an uncanny sense from the moment she took the photo during the trip to Niagara Falls that it was going to be special. On August 18, 1914 she wrote:

Arrived at the hotel. We rubbed up a little and started out again to the falls a second time. We lingered a long time, loath to leave the spot. I took a shot at the girls sitting on the rocks. The funny part of it was, they sat so nice and quiet, after I had pressed the button, and could hardly believe the picture had been taken.

Grandma apparently liked the photo enough to frame it, which probably facilitated its survival across the years. My cousin Alice now has the photo. I’m going to repost a portion of what Alice wrote about it:

. . . I love the picture so much. It still hangs in my office and I enjoy looking at it every day. Everyone looks so happy.

And, I tingle when I think about how the picture has brightened people’s lives for a hundred years. Grandma enjoyed looking at the happy faces a hundred years ago, and Alice equally enjoys looking at them now.

Why Wasn’t Grandma a Teacher?

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

Wednesday, September 2, 1914: It need not be recorded for there is nothing important to write.


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


You sound a little down. Yesterday you wrote that you missed your sister Ruth now that school has begun, and she is teaching at Red Hill School. And, your little brother Jimmie probably also started school—so it’s just you and your parents on the farm.

Your oldest sister Besse also was a teacher before she got married. Did you ever want to be a teacher like your sisters?

You’ve never written anything about seeking a teaching position. . . so maybe I’m letting my imagination run wild. However, you graduated from high school, so it seems like you’d be qualified. What happened? Didn’t any schools offer you a job . . . or did you decide that you preferred to stay home and work on the family farm?

Photo of Ruth Muffly and her Students

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

Tuesday, September 1, 1914:

The summer flowers we bid adieu

To brighter days and balmier hours

There short brief life is well nigh spent

For with the summer goes the flowers.

It seems rather lonesome here without Ruthie, but still have enough to take up my time.

Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

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

It was the first day of school for Grandma’s sister Ruth. She taught at the Red Hill School during 1914-15. This school was at the south end of McEwensville. It was a different school than where she’d previously taught.

Whew, it looks like Ruth had 9 boys, and 1 girl in her class. I bet she had a handful.

Monthly Poem

For more information about the poem on the first day of each month see this previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary


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