The Diary Years – Found Photos of Grandma’s Best Friend and her Husband

Carrie [Stout] Pressler (1897-1965)
I began this blog in 2011 to post my grandmother’s diary entries a hundred years to the day after she wrote them. My grandmother, Helena Muffly [Swartz] kept the diary from 1911 to 1914 when she was a teen living on a farm near McEwensville in central Pennsylvania. After I posted all the diary entries, I reinvented A Hundred Years Ago to its current focus on food. Today I’m going to go back to the early days of this blog —

Helena’s best friend in the diary was Carrie Stout. During years when I was posting the diary, I never was able to find a photo of Carrie.

Imagine my surprise when I got a Christmas card from Carrie’s granddaughter, Barb Fry, a few weeks ago that contained photos of Carrie and her husband, John Pressler.  It was a dream come true. I finally knew what Carrie looked like. In the photo she was older than what she would have been when Helena was writing about her in the diary, but it’s easy to picture the two teens giggling and chatting in their younger days.

Both Carrie and Helena married farmers and lived their entire lives within a few miles of each other.

John Pressler (1888 – 1944)

I went through my transcript of the diary and found that Carrie is mentioned more than 70 times in the diary. I thought you might enjoy reading (or re-reading) a few of those diary entries.

February 11, 1911: Got up about eight o’clock this morning. Did quite a lot of work this forenoon. Carrie Stout was over a while this afternoon. Nearly all my Saturdays are alike.

March 5, 1911: I went to Sunday school this morning. Carrie Stout and I walked to Turbotville this afternoon going up the railroad. We were rather weak in our feet by the time we got home.

March 20, 1911: Carrie Stout was over this evening. She brought me a birthday present. It was a dainty white apron. Mother said, “It was only a patch.” Well I’ll have to say good-by to fifteen years and pass on to the next. Wonder if I will get any more presents.

April 29, 1911:  Ma kept me busy a chasing the chickens out of the garden this afternoon. I get so mad at them. Carrie Stout came over this evening. Wanted me to go along with her up to McEwensville. She is afraid of the dark. Of course I went, although I looked like a witch.

January 1, 1912: New Year’s day for me had a rather doleful beginning, but brightened up as the day passed on. Carrie came over this afternoon and we went a skating or rather she did the skating and I the tumbling.  I was just experimenting, being the first time I really tried to skate. Maybe I’ll buy a pair of skates pretty soon, as I haven’t any of my own. But the learning, however, isn’t much fun.

December 22, 1913: Carrie was over this afternoon. We picked out nuts. Made taffy this evening, but it didn’t get good and the nuts were wasted.

June 2, 1914: Carrie was over. We had some gossip and some other rare tidbits.

July 21, 1914: Went to a party about three miles from here. Went with Carrie and her beau. There were lots there I didn’t know. Didn’t stay so very late.

Friendships are special and to be cherished – both a hundred years ago and now.

37 thoughts on “The Diary Years – Found Photos of Grandma’s Best Friend and her Husband

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed reading these tidbits from the diary. I had a lot of fun with the blog during the years when I was posting the diary – and likewise I’ve enjoyed the evolution of this blog to its current format. I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful readers like you.

  1. I just responded to a comment you left on my post with a question about Helena and then I came here to find this! I was especially interested in the reference to the apron Carrie gave Helena–I wonder if it was handmade or embroidered or anything! I’m so glad you got the photo of Carrie.

    1. Given the time period and the rural locale I’d guess that it was handmade – maybe with embroidery. I bet it was pretty even if Grandma’s mother didn’t think that it was very practical. 🙂

  2. How wonderful! Friends and neighbors sometimes have closer ties than family. I have been receiving pictures of ancestors in the mail recently and it is so precious to have them. Just as a side note, my 2nd great grandparents were married in McEwensville in 1852. They farmed in the Muncy area.

  3. It was so nice to finally see a picture of Carrie. I love the fact that these two friends stayed connected throughout their entire lives. That’s rare these days.

  4. I love being able to finally put faces and names together, though in my archive the problem is more likely to be picture without a name than a name without a picture. Loved this post. Long-term friendships are such a treasure.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed this post. Like you, I have lots of photos without names. It’s always so frustrating to try to figure out who those people are.

  5. ~~happy tears on getting your photos!~~
    I wonder what happened to their taffy? I say the same sort of thing when my attempts don’t turn out…the more things change, the more they stay the same ; )

    1. Candy making is so challenging – and I seem to have as many failures as what I have successes. I find that I particularly tend to have trouble making smooth candy that doesnt’ have large granular sugar crystals. .

  6. Oh my gosh! I absolutely LOVE this! I didn’t know you started this blog about your grandma. That’s so awesome. I have my grandma’s journals that thought about writing about her entries. How wonderful that your got to see a picture of her friend. What a lovely post. I really enjoyed it.

    1. You are so fortunate to have your grandmother’s journals. I really enjoyed going through my grandmother’s diary at a snail pace of one entry per day as I posted them. She typically only wrote a sentence or two – and when I looked at everything together, one day blurred into the next: but when I focused on her diary entries one day at a time, I really began to see themes and stories as the diary progressed.

  7. I was surprised by how delighted I was to see your Grandma appear here again. I enjoyed your diary posts so much, and was a little sad when it came to an end. But this is a wonderful postscript to the blog, and of course a real treasure for you. I’m so glad you received such a gift!

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed the diary posts. I also was sad when the diary ended, which surprised me at that time. I was surprised how quickly the years had flown, and that I really wished that my grandmother had kept her diary for a longer period of time.

      When I first started posting the diary entries, four years seemed like a long commitment to post them one day at a time. But as the years flew by, I discovered that I enjoyed blogging, and I got to know my grandmother much better via her entries, and I reconnected with relatives and others in Pennsylvania . . . I could go on and on.

  8. What a treasure – it is always nice to put a face to a name. I have a friend whose maiden name is Stout. Wonder if they are related. Her family is from Montgomery. Would be interested to know but sadly she has early onset dementia. Thanks for sharing the photo with us.

      1. It is – she is such a sweet lady. Hope your February is going along well. I just love your posts – learning so much especially we are really not all that different from a 100 yrs ago are we?

  9. I love how when you least expect it a missing puzzle piece gets sent to you by the Universe 🙂 It was fun to reread these diary snippets. I wonder if they stayed friends as adults. I hope so!

    1. I’m awed by how much I continue to learn about my grandmother and her times. It seems like the more I find pieces to fill-in the family history jig-saw puzzle, the more the puzzle expands. It’s what makes family history so interesting and compelling.

    1. The diary made me realize that the context has changed over the past hundred years, but that friends both then and now enjoy chat-chatting and doing activities together.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I also enjoyed revisiting my grandmother’s diary, and had fun finding diary entries that mentioned Carrie for this post.

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