Why Did Grandma Never Mention Grandpa in the Diary?

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

Monday, December 14, 1914: <<no entry>>

Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook
Raymond Swartz (1915), Senior photo in the Milton High School Yearbook

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

One of the biggest mysteries about Grandma’s diary has never been fully resolved. Grandma obviously knew my grandfather, Raymond Swartz, during the years when she was writing the diary, but she never mentioned him in it. Why?

They both were members of the 1913 graduating class at McEwensville High School. There were only 6 students in the class. But Grandma was 3 ½ years older than Grandpa. She was 18 when they graduated from high school; he was 14 ½ years old. My guess is that he skipped several grades in school.

Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.
Recent photo of the building that once was the McEwensville School. The high school was on the second floor. There was an elementary school on the first floor.
1913 commencement program that contains both my grandmother’s and grandfather’s names.

This is what Aunt Eleanor (Grandma’s daughter) said when I asked her when Grandma and Grandpa started dating:

They probably never had much contact with each other outside of school. Geographically they came to and from school and/or church in different directions As I understand it, Daddy finished up at McEwensville and then went to Milton High School for his junior and senior years. Then he continued to farm with his father. My theory is that he started thinking about getting married when he was around 20 or 21 years old and, looking around at the eligible females, remembered that sweet Helen Muffly from school – or maybe church.

I can give you a little more detail about several of the things Aunt Eleanor mentioned. Grandpa lived on a farm south of McEwensville; Grandma on one west of McEwensville. So even though it was a very small community, they would have taken different roads when walking to and from school.

McEwensville High School was an old-fashioned classical high school; whereas Milton High School was a new modern comprehensive one with various programs and tracks that included things like business courses. Some students (like Grandpa) continued their education at Milton after they completed the program at McEwensville.

39 thoughts on “Why Did Grandma Never Mention Grandpa in the Diary?

  1. That is a very good question, one which I have wondered about too. My only explanation previously was that I must have missed any mention of him, due to missing a diary entry, but you have confirmed that your grandfather wasn’t mentioned. Now, wouldn’t that be an interesting diary, if she had kept one at the time they began dating? 🙂

    1. I agree–I wish that she had not lost interest in keeping a diary. It would be nice if there was a record of the the years when she was dating my grandfather.

  2. Perhaps Grandma just kept that part of her life to herself…?? Worrying that a family member might read her diary?? ( When I was dating, I used to write the “good stuff” in shorthand, because I knew my mom couldn’t read it!) But I don’t think she would have ever read my diary anyway.

    1. It’s possible. Sometimes Grandma seemed guarded about what she wrote in the diary–yet I still think that the age difference may have just been too much at that point in her life for her to have had any clue that she’d later fall in love with my grandfather.

  3. I think it’s understandable. Thinking back at my younger years, I didn’t pay any attention to those younger than me, in school. Especially not, since they lived in different areas.

    1. And, I think that it’s cool that my grandfather was the person who did the motion picture presentation. I wonder if the pros and cons of motion pictures were similar to current considerations about the internet.

  4. Three years difference in age becomes less important as we grow older. The gap between 14 and 17 is much greater than between 21 and 24, and when you get to 30 and 33, it’s negligible.

    On the other hand, geography may have counted a good bit then, too. I mentioned this somewhere, but can’t remember if it was here. When you read the personals ads in the paper, the location almost always is stipulated. A male in the NE quadrant of Houston might specify that he’s interested in meeting a single female from the same area. Who wants to drive 30 miles to go out for a cup of coffee or dinner, especially with someone you don’t know? 🙂

  5. Interesting that he graduated at 14.5 and then went on for more at the comprehensive HS. I wonder what classes were available there that were not offered at McEwensville.

    Also interesting that you assume he skipped several grades in order to be able to graduate so young. I skipped a grade in school, but currently this is supposed to be a bad thing to do, especially for boys, as they will be so far behind their peers in “social maturity”. Raymond Swartz may have been mature for his age, and thus able to attract an older woman as he gained in physical and social stature. Fun to speculate!

    1. The classical curriculum at McEwensville included Latin, and I think that it would have offered the types of classes that would have prepared students for college. The newer comprehensive high school would have had a wider range of courses including courses that prepared students “for life.”

      According to Wikipedia:

      “Between 1910 and 1940 the ‘high school movement’ resulted in rapidly increasing founding of public high schools in many cities and towns. High school enrollment and graduation numbers and rates increased markedly, mainly due to the building of new schools, and a practical curriculum based on gaining skills ‘for life’ rather than ‘for college’.”

  6. I like that little tidbit – how nice that your aunt is helping you with this and we will get to know both Helena and her sweetheart Raymond. :)I am sure he remembered sweet Helena. Back in those days they did not marry until the man thought he was ready to provide for a wife and family, so unlike today.

    1. I hadn’t thought about it quite that way before, but now that you say it, it makes sense that back then men generally did not marry until they thought they could provide for a wife and family.

    1. I agree. Throughout the diary, I kept trying to find places where she might somehow have referenced my grandfather without using his name–but never really felt like she was discussing him.

    1. I love your comment. I hadn’t thought of it that way–but you’re absolutely right! I really appreciate the support and help that my aunt, uncle, and other relatives have given me.

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