One-Hundred-Year Advice on How to Avoid Overeating

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

Wednesday, January 31, 1912:  Nothing much for today. I am lagging in Algebra. I won’t make ninety this month. That’s positive. I received my pictures today. I was rather astonished at the immensity of the girl thereon.

Farewell for January.

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

Grandma and her sister Ruth got their pictures taken when they went to Milton on January 20. At that time Grandma worried that she would look heavy–she must have gained weight over the holidays—and it seems like the photos confirmed her worst fears.

Grandma probably decided to go on a diet.

A hundred years ago people believed that the key to losing weight was to chew (fletcherize) their food more thoroughly so that they would feel full while eating less.

Here’s some more hundred year old advice on how to avoid overeating:

It is not that the average woman eats too much, but that she does not eat the right kind of things.  . . She eats too many sweets, in the form of pastry, cake, or candy.

The chief factors leading to overeating are the uses of wines and condiments at dinner and elaborate course dinners. The first two overstimulate the appetite, and the great variety offered by the latter tempt the appetite, and make it possible to eat more than one could if the bill of fare were more limited and simple.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women  (1911) by Anna Galbraith

Pennsyvlania Game Laws in the Early 1900’s

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

Tuesday, January 30, 1912:  Ran a splinter in my hand at noon and didn’t get it out until this evening. It went in almost straight. Jimmie pulled it out for me, although I didn’t think he could. Saw an owl this evening. Would like to have laid my hands on him and seen the result.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

I’m amazed that Grandma’s six-year-old brother Jimmie was able to pull the splinter out.

My sense is that the population of many wild animals and birds has decreased over the years—though I’m really not sure.  This diary entry makes it sound as if it was unusual to see an owl a hundred years ago.

By the early 1900’s many people realized that it was important to protect wildlife.

According to The Old Tackle Box, the first non-resident hunting licenses in Pennsylvania were issued in 1901—though resident licenses were not issued until 1913.

However, bounties were still offered for some animals.

A 1908 book called The Compendium of Everyday Wants described the Pennsylvania Game Laws:

Hunting is prohibited on Sunday, and any one convicted of this offense is liable to a penalty consisting of a fine and imprisonment.

It is illegal to kill any song bird. It is unlawful to place on sale any song birds caught, except those generally sold, such as parrots, canary and other similar birds. Birds taken for scientific purposes are not included in this restriction, when the person capturing or killing them holds a certificate. These certificates are good for one year, under the law of Pennsylvania.

It is unlawful to kill deer, fawn, etc., for the purpose of selling them, in Pennsylvania.

For the benefit of agriculture and the protection of game, the legislatures in many States have passed laws whereby a certain amount of money is paid for killing wildcats, foxes, minks and any such dangerous animals. A bounty, that is a sum of money, is paid by the counties of the States for each one destroyed. In Pennsylvania, $2 is given for every wildcat, $1 for every red or grey fox, and 50 cents for every mink.

Honey Popcorn Balls Recipe

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

Monday, January 29, 1912:  It is hard to study when you don’t feel like it. Don’t know what will become of myself if I don’t get aroused pretty soon.

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

Perhaps Grandma made a snack while she was trying to motivate herself to study.

Popcorn was a very popular winter snack a hundred years ago. A few weeks ago I made old-fashioned Caramel Popcorn.  I enjoyed it so much, that I decided to make another old-time popcorn snack—Honey Popcorn Balls.

Honey Popcorn Balls

approximately 1 1/2 quarts popped popcorn

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put popped corn in a large bowl and set aside. Cook honey, sugar, water, and butter to a medium-crack stage (280 degrees).  Remove from heat and stir in salt; pour over the corn and stir with a spoon to coat the kernels.

Grease hands with butter. Firmly press coated popcorn into balls.  Lay balls on waxed paper until cool. If the balls will be stored, wrap in waxed paper.

These popcorn balls have an awesome rich honey flavor. (They are nothing like the horrid, stale popcorn balls that I occasionally see in stores.)

I used some alfalfa honey that I got at an Amish market to make these balls—but any honey will work.  I love the flavor of the light alfalfa honey, but think it would also be fun to experiment and make them again with a darker honey.  Maybe next week. . . .

How to Make a Funnel From an Envelope

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

Sunday, January 28, 1912: Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Worked several Algebra problems this evening though Ruth showed me how.

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

The previous Thursday Grandma got a lecture from her teacher about cheating on tests, and she resolved to study harder. It sounds likes Grandma was really trying to understand her algebra problems.  She even asked her sister for help.

Since the diary entry is pretty self-explanatory, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

I love browsing through hundred-old-magazines. They often contain wonderfully old-fashioned (yet practical) household tips. For example,

A temporary funnel is quickly made from an ordinary envelope. Clip a corner off, funnel-shaped. Then clip the point and your funnel is ready to use.

Good Housekeeping (September, 1911)

Fixing Clothes to Make Them More Stylish

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

Saturday, January 27, 1912: Saturday is a busy day if so you choose to make it. I was busy all day. Sewed nearly all afternoon. I didn’t make anything, but fixed some of my clothes the way I wanted them. And I’m not going to study any this evening—lessons or no lessons.

Waist (Source: Milton Evening Standard, Feb. 4, 1911)

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

Today clothes have become almost throwaway items.  Styles seem to change ever more rapidly. The legs on my pants from last year are too wide; the skirts too long.

A hundred years ago people remodeled their clothes when styles changed. According to The Dressmaker (1911) by the Butterick Publishing Company:

In making over a waist it is sometimes necessary to use quite a little new material; but when chemisettes, yokes, and half-sleeves are in fashion it is an easy matter to supplement the old material with net, lace, chiffon, etc.

Sleeves and skirts frequently need to be recut. If piecing is necessary, see to it that the seams fall in places where they will not show or where they can be covered with trimming.

Remodeling a skirt is an easy matter if the new pattern is narrower than the old skirt. In that case it is only a question of recutting; but if the pattern calls for more material than you have in the skirt itself you will have to do some piecing.  Braided bands covering the skirt seams are an excellent way of increasing the width of a skirt.

Or you can raise the skirt at the waistline, refit it, and add to it at the bottom by a band or a fold. Or it may be pieced at the bottom and the line of piecing covered by wide braid, bias bands, etc.

Had a Little Fun–and Did a Little Studying

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

Friday, January 26, 1912:  Ruth and I went up to Oakes’ this evening. Wanted to stay at home and work my Algebra problems. Worked two after I came home. Ruth helped me with one. Must manage to the rest some other time.

Grandma and Ruth would have walked down this road to get to Oakes.

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

Grandma went to visit neighbors with her sister Ruth on a Friday night–though she also did  two algebra problems.

Hmm–has Grandma turned a new page?

In the diary entry that I posted yesterday Grandma wrote that she’d gotten a lecture from her teacher about cheating on tests. She said that she was going to:

. . . bid adieu to all ways of crookedness and get the things in my head instead of having them on paper.


Do Students Cheat More Now?

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

Thursday, January 25, 1912:  Gave my ear to a free-for-all lecture this afternoon. It was delivered by Mr. Teacher, the chief part of which was about cheating on examinations. I’ve been so worked up at this, although Conscience tells me not to.  Anyway I believe it is time to stop, and do better in the future. So now, I will try to bid adieu to all ways of crookedness and get the things in my head instead of having them on paper.

Recent photo of the building that once housed the McEwensville school.

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

My grandmother cheating on tests!! . . . .Grandma, what were you thinking?

Sometimes it’s hard to interpret what Grandma wrote without judging her.  Grandma was 16 and about 40 years younger than me when she wrote this diary entry. I’m looking at this entry through the lens of a mother and I can’t completely wrap my head around why a teen would decide to cheat.

I want to think that the world was a simpler place a hundred years ago—and that students were less likely to cheat back then. But I’m not sure. This is the second time Grandma’s mentioned cheating in the diary.

On February 7, 1911 Grandma wrote:

Some of the boys at school found the teacher’s Latin questions in examination, and we all expect to make a good mark. I do at least, but I might be fooled as some cheats are.

And, the next day, her diary entry said:

Had some of our exams today. Came out all right in Latin. Our arithmetic wasn’t so easy though.