16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, August 22, 1911: Mother was kind of mad this morning. It was her birthday, and I guess she realizes she is getting old and doesn’t like the idea. I’m busy watching cows these sunny August days. Wouldn’t you like to help me. I surely would appreciate it.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years
Grandma’s mother, Phoebe Derr Muffly, was born on August 22, 1862 so it would have been her 49th birthday. It sounds like she was having a bit of a middle-age crisis. Her youngest child, Jimmie, was going to enter first grade in a few weeks–so I suppose that she felt like she was moving into the next stage in her life.
For almost a quarter of a century child-rearing had been the center of Phoebe’s life. Her oldest living child Besse was born in 1888. (There may have been an older one who died at an early age—see previous post.) Phoebe probably felt good to finally have her youngest child almost ready to start school—but it probably also was a bit scary and made her feel old.
In 1911 most women did not have jobs outside of the home and it often was even more traumatic for woman as they reached menopause than it is now.
A hundred years ago books and magazines encouraged women to develop new interests and become involved in new activities as their children grew up.
With a variety of valuable and permanent interests, the mind is well safeguarded against attacks of worry. A woman should increase her recreations, leave home for short intervals, travel . . .
Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna Galbraith