Chased with a Stir Stick

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

Saturday, February 25, 1911: Mother got mad at me this morning and chased me around with a stir stick. I always seem to get into some kind of trouble on Saturdays. I went up to Oakes this afternoon. I didn’t want to go, but Ruth wanted me to take home some papers and cards of theirs. So at last I went. I stuck fast in the mud several places, but succeeded in extricating myself. I have been for the past few days, and still am, the owner of a very sore thumb on my right hand. I guess it is either a ring-around or a run around.

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

I’m not positive what a stir stick was in Grandma’s day, but I think it was a wooden spoon.

I’m slightly appalled by this entry. I recognize that times were different and that physical punishment was used more frequently one hundred years ago than it is today—yet I’m still surprised that it was used to discipline an adolescent.

Being chased by her mother with a stir stick was unusual enough from Grandma’s perspective to merit mention in the diary—yet it doesn’t seem like she is particularly surprised by the action. This suggests that her mother periodically hit her.  

Methods of punishment shape individuals’ attitudes toward authority and obedience. I wonder how being chased by a stir stick affected Grandma.


The sore thumb mentioned in the entry refers to the finger that Grandma cut six days earlier.

2 thoughts on “Chased with a Stir Stick

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