Replenished Pocketbook, But Didn’t Attend Halloween Masquerade Dance

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

Friday, October 30, 1914: Tis the last of the month e’er I take it into my head to jot down a few more items. In the meantime I have replenished my pocketbook. It was entirely empty. Taking that trip did him up entirely. My last payday was last night. I just finished rolling that one bill (not a little one) in with the rest awhile ago.

Mollie’s little calf weighed 160 pounds so that helped considerably towards filling up the yawning gap in my pocketbook. So much for financial circumstances and my rough hands.

Ruthie Dearest is going to a Halloween masquerade dance tonight, but I’m not cause I never learned to dance. I had thought of going and making a brave attempt at it, but my courage failed me. Was afraid I’d make some awful blunders.

DSC06562.cropMaybe Grandma’s sister Ruth wore a witch costume to the masquerade dance. (Source: Ladies Home Journal, July, 1914)

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


Welcome back! We missed you. It sounds like you worked hard in October—but a least your pocketbook is full. The trip to Niagara Falls in August sure did a number on it; but, in my opinion, the trip was worth every penny.

P.S. You should have gone to the Halloween masquerade dance. I bet a cute guy would have been willing to teach you how to dance.

Grandma probably was paid for helping with the corn harvest. On October 11, 1913 Grandma wrote that she received $12 as part of her pay for husking corn.

And, on October 18, 1913, she wrote:

At last my job is finished. I call it about 600 bushels more or less. This will add some to my spending money.

Grandma’s cow, Mollie, had a male calf on September 16, 1914. When Grandma sold a calf in 1912 she wrote:

Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56.

December 27, 1912

Based on these previously diary entries, I’m guessing that Grandma made at least $24.00 from harvesting corn, and at least $12.00 from the sale of the calf for a total of $36.00.

According to an online inflation calculator, a dollar in 1914 would be worth $23.81 today. So if Grandma received $36 in October that would be worth about $883 today. It sounds like her pocketbook was probably nice and fat.

40 thoughts on “Replenished Pocketbook, But Didn’t Attend Halloween Masquerade Dance

  1. Wow back in those days people REALLy worked! Now we have mushy muscles for sitting all day at our jobs! I know there are still a lot of tough hard working jobs out there today. Happy Thursday!! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. I can understand about the dancing, too; but somehow it seems like it would have been nice if Grandma had felt confident enough to try dancing.

  2. I’m “with you”, Grandma on the dancing….wish I was uninhibited enough to learn!
    (I think it’s cute that Grandma refers to her pocketbook as “him”!)

      1. By the way. I failed to pick up on it before, but it is interesting that she referred to her “pocketbook.” When I moved to Minnesota from Connecticut, people laughed at me when I called my “handbag” or my “purse” a pocketbook. “Pocketbooks are small little paperback books.,” they said.

        I wonder if the expression “pocketbook” is an east coast one with a history that goes back as far as grandma.

        And really, why would one call it a pocketbook. (or am I not remembering accurately what she said.)

  3. I love how Grandma said she rolled the larger bill inside of the smaller ones. Certainly brings life to the term bank rolling, and who needs a pesky wallet when you have a pocketbook and a coin pouch anyway?

    1. Thanks for letting me know about the issue you had. I’m not sure what caused it, but am trying to identify the issue and hopefully there won’t be any more problems.

  4. Adorable! I agree, Grandma should have gone to the dance where some cute boy may have danced with her. But then, who knows how your family might be different if it wasn’t the RIGHT boy? 🙂

  5. Helena reveals a lot of personality in this entry– I love how she refers to her pocketbook as “him.” And her apprehension about dancing…what a shame, and I can relate :/ Wonder what kind of dances they did at that time. Sheryl? Did you ever do research that I might have missed?

  6. So good to have Grandma back and writing. I would have felt the same about the party – not knowing how to dance. I wonder if she learned by the time she married your Grandpa. Glad she relined her pocketbook. That had to be comforting.

  7. YAY! Grandma is back! Guess she’d been working hard. I too, wish she’d gone to the dance.
    Thanks for doing the math, by the way!

  8. I am glad she is back – but it sounds like she was probably too tired at the end of the day to do much of anything! I am going to miss her next year!!

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