Tired From Picking Strawberries

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

Tuesday, June 17, 1913:  A feeling of weariness creeps o’er me, as a result of too much stooping yesterday.


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

I bet that Grandma was picking strawberries again. This is the third June that I’ve posted Grandma’s diary. This post makes me realize how much I’ve gotten into the ebb and flow of her life. She can merely write that she was tired from stooping–and I immediately think, “It’s June so she was picking strawberries.”

Diary entries in previous years suggest that a neighbor raised strawberries for sale and that Grandma was hired to pick them.

On June 12, 1911 Grandma wrote:

Started to pick strawberries this morning. Of course it will mean some early rising and loss of sleep, but just look at what I can earn.

And, the following year on June 10, 1912 she wrote:

This morning I picked berries and helped myself to some. I wonder if anyone saw me. . .

And, on July 1, 1912 Grandma felt rich:

Stopped picking strawberries today. All my earnings, about $4.00 in all, I still have and expect to keep until I spend them.

30 thoughts on “Tired From Picking Strawberries

  1. That would be back breaking work. And I laughed to read that in 2012 she helped herself to some strawberries. I am sure I would have done the same.

    1. When I go to u-pick strawberry places I always help myself to a few strawberries. I always assumed that it was expected that people would eat a few berries while they picked, but maybe I should feel guilty. 🙂

  2. I keep intending to go back and read your posts from before I discovered your blog; maybe this winter when things slow down a bit!
    That’s nice that you have learned to read into some of Grandma’s entries.

  3. I feel her pain! I still remember picking strawberries for several days in a row when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter many years ago. I thought I would never stand straight again! 🙂

  4. mmmm strawberries! And a whole $4.00! I can still remember my mom buying a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs and milk for $1 I wonder how much Helena paid for these items in her day…

    1. It would be interesting to know what town people paid for milk and eggs back then. There was a definite rural/town difference in what people bought back then. I think that farm families probably made their own bread–but they may have sometimes purchased it at a bakery when they went to town.

        1. Thanks for finding the link! I had not idea that the consumer price index was started a hundred years ago. . . . hmm, this might make a good future post. 🙂

  5. My grandfather and great-grandfather owned a strawberry farm in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in the late 1800s until 1930 or so. My great-aunt, born in 1895, remembered picking strawberries as your grandmother did. She was paid a penny a quart for picking them. Helena picked a LOT of strawberries to earn $4.00!

    1. Whew, a penny a quart! Your great-aunt didn’t get rich picking strawberries. I know that money was worth more back then, but hopefully Grandma was paid a little more for her efforts.

    1. I bet that they ate lots of them fresh. When I was a child we often ate strawberry shortcake with milk on it as a main dish on hot summer evenings–and my guess would be that shortcake was also popular a hundred years ago.

      I’d also guess that they made lots of strawberry jam.

  6. that’s really swell that you could actually “live” your grandma’s life from knowing her so well through the diary. it’s so predictable yet unpredictable, lol… if you know what i mean 🙂

  7. It’s amazing how tuned in you are now to your grandma’s life, so that you can come close to “seeing” back in time what she was doing, and just from her few words. That is so special.

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