Three More Graduation Gifts

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

Friday, May 23, 1913:  It was rather a dreary day today. Got three more presents today. Mother was up to Turbotville and brought them home with her. Wish it would stop raining soon.

John and Sarah Derr with daughter Annie (circa 1900)
John and Sarah Derr with daughter Annie (circa 1900)

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

Grandma’s graduation gifts sure straggled in over a long period of time. She graduated from McEwensville High School on April 23, 1913—exactly one month before this diary entry.

The presents probably were from her grandparents and an aunt. Grandma’s maternal grandparents, John and Sarah Derr lived in Turbotvile.

Grandma also had at least one aunt—Annie Van Sant— who lived in Turbotville. Aunt Annie was grandma’s mother’s youngest sister. She was married to a doctor, but had no children.  Based upon previous entries, I have the impression that Aunt Annie tended to give very nice gifts.

I wonder how many graduation gifts in total Grandma received.  On May 4, she wrote:

Although it is over a week since commencement, I received a present today. Making eighteen in all.

So,  Grandma received at least 21 gifts—the previous 18 plus the additional 3.

24 thoughts on “Three More Graduation Gifts

  1. I still remember some of the gifts I received for graduation so many years ago. I used some of them for many years and others are still on my shelf of goodies.

  2. She must have been especially well-liked! row you familiar with the movie, “I Remember Mama”? It starred a very young Barbara Bel Geddes and is set in the teens in San Fransisco. Barbara’s character is graduating and her wish for a particular gift (and her parents’ desire to find a way to afford it) is one of the major points of this sweet little tale. Your grandmother’s entries made me think of it. It is funny how many families celebrate and give gidts or throw big parties but some act as if it is a given and do not make any fuss at all. I confess I am jealous of those who are celebrated. 😉

    1. I’m not familiar with the movie–but it sounds like something I’d really enjoy. I’m going to look for it and plan to watch it soon.

      In many ways, the number of gifts Grandma received for her graduation seems surprising. In the diary, many holidays didn’t seem much different from other days. Maybe it was a bigger deal back then to get a high school diploma. Less than 5% of the people in the US graduated from high school a hundred years ago.

  3. Before I read your notes, I was thinking that Grandma’s graduation gifts trickled in for a long time.
    I also remember a couple of the gifts I received….(that was a long time ago!).

  4. Wow – 21 gifts. I don’t remember graduations generating that many in my day. I like the idea of the “little things” your grandma got though.

    1. I can vaguely remember a discussion with my mother when I was about ready to graduate. It was to the effect that I should carefully think about who I sent graduation announcements to, since people who received graduation announcements might feel obligated to give me a gift.

  5. They must have had a very rainy spring. She mentioned it again, and the mud on her shoes the other day.

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