Memorial Day, 1914

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

 Saturday, May 30, 1914: Went up to town this morning to take in the doings. Went with a couple of friends over to Watsontown this afternoon. Saw a fat cousin.

If I squint a little I think that I can see a parade slowly advancing down Main Street in Watsontown–a band,  the GAR Civil War Veterans, a couple horses pulling carts advertising local businesses. . .

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

Prior to 1971 Memorial Day was always on May 30.

Yeah, Grandma! I’m glad that you’re finally having some fun. Was there a parade? . . . food? . . .music? Did the old veterans make speeches? It’s been a rough few days with the death of your infant niece—and it’s good that you’re finally getting out with friends again.


Memorial Day sounds like a fun holiday a hundred years ago. For example, on May 30, 1912 Grandma wrote:

Memorial Day: Carrie and I went up to McEwensville this morning. This afternoon we went over to Watsontown accompanied by another girl friend. We had the pleasure of getting an automobile ride. It was the first time I was ever in one and consequently never had experienced a ride. We had a good time.

33 thoughts on “Memorial Day, 1914

    1. I don’t. I know that one of her mother’s brothers was a doctor in Watsontown, and that he had one child–a son named Woods. But I have no clue whether or not Woods was overweight.

      Both her mother and father were from large families so she had lots of cousins who lived relatively close–and any of them could have come into Watsontown for the Memorial Day holiday.

  1. Fat Cousin? probably not as common then as it is now. I remember years ago having students come from different countries and being amazed at the size of some Americans.

  2. Grandma’s diary is a lot like the ones Mum left me, just a few lines left out in places! I think might have to do with the fact that diaries are notes for ourselves and that our memories are always going to be pretty good… Very few of us write diaries or journals with ‘history’ in mind. You are so painstaking in your research.

    1. I totally agree–Grandma saw no need to add lots of details because her brief notes were sufficient reminders herself about what happened.

      Thank you for the kind words. I have a lot of fun doing research for this blog.

    1. I don’t think that the phrase is commonly used anymore–but at the same time, it seems very familiar. Perhaps it is a phrase that is still used regionally to a certain extent, and it may have Pennsylvania Dutch origins.

      1. Ah yes, I remember that now. When I was researching the newspapers for the day my father was born I found a reference to the death of a Crimean War veteran. It amazes me that within my father’s life span there were still people who could tell of their experience in the Crimea.

        1. I also am amazed how our parents and grandparents lived at the same time as people who were connected to events that seem like “ancient history” to us.

  3. She also made me laugh at “fat cousin” – but then like someone said, I can imagine being overweight was not the norm like it is now. It is before all that good food of french fries, ice cream whenever we want and oh sooo many cookies!!! 🙂 Did she always say exactly what she thought? I know my grandmother did!

      1. I keep thinking she must have that touch of Irish in her!! lol I bet she was a card. She reminds me of a dear older friend, in her 80’s now. Always spoke her mind but never in a nasty way…just the facts. 😉

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