18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, September 3, 1913: An old buzz of a threshing machine is hissing away outside now. I suppose I’ll have a nice time tomorrow.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Threshing day was one of the busiest days of the year on farms a hundred years ago. In the days before combines, threshing machines separated wheat (and other small grains) from the straw. Huge steam-operated threshing machines went from farm to farm.
The threshing machine probably arrived on the Muffly farm with a hissing sound a hundred years ago today–and the actual threshing was done the following day.
The previous day Grandma’s father was ill and fainted—I hope that he was feeling better and able to help. (Maybe he’d overworked trying to prepare for the threshers—which somehow contributed to his fainting.)
I think Grandma was being sarcastic about having a nice time the next day. It took lots of labor to operate the threshing machines —and the men who came to help expected a big meal. Grandma probably planned to spend the day cooking, serving food, and then washing dishes.
Grandma’s diary entries in previous years about threshing provide more information about what threshing was like:
I’m half way out of something that I worried about before school started, and that was that I was afraid I’d have to miss school when Pa had his threshing done. They started today and well I went to school today, too. So glad I don’t have to miss, that would be too bad for me.
[Note: Of course, Grandma didn’t need to worry about missing school in 1913 like she had in previous years since she’d graduated in the spring.]
Had to run around town this morning and accomplished some errands. Have to sleep with Rufus tonight as the threshers are here.
[Note: In the diary Grandma sometimes called her sister Ruth, Rufus.]
Was in such terrible trepidation this morning, lest I would have to miss school and help Ma with the work, but Besse came to my relief. So glad I was. I missed those stacks and stacks of dishes for dinner, but have to confront them tonight.
[Note: Besse was Grandma’s oldest sister. She was married and lived in nearby Watsontown.]