Awesome Desserts for a Washington’s Birthday Party

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

Friday, February 20, 1914:  Nothing much doing.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

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

Have you ever heard of anyone holding a party to celebrate Washington’s Birthday. It must have been a much more popular holiday a hundred years ago than what it is now.

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some fun food suggestions for a Washington’s Birthday party that appeared in the February, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

In the 1960s, Washington’s Birthday morphed into President’s Day which is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February.  But, in 1914, Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on his actual birthdate, February 22—and apparently it was a bigger deal than what it is now.


No Mail: No Valentine

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

Saturday, February 14, 1914: Looked forward to a valentine this morning, but no mail carrier came as the roads were rendered impassable from the snow storm. The snow lies 18 in. deep on the ground.


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

Oh dear, no mail. . . and since it was a Saturday it will be two days until Grandma gets her valentine. Who was Grandma expecting to get it from?

This diary entry makes me realize that times have changed. . . and not changed . . .  in some unexpected ways over the past century.

In 2014, like 1914, due to the snow emergencies in many locations across the United States, lots of mail carriers probably are unable to deliver the mail . . . however, most young people today probably don’t care that it isn’t getting through since they  already got their valentines via Facebook, email, or texting.



Reflections on the New Year

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

Thursday, January 1, 1914:  

Ring out the old, ring in the new.

Ring merry bells across the snow

The year is dying, let it go.

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

The days and weeks go marching by,

Another year is here once more.

And thus speeds on the wheel of time.

Giving to this year a mighty four.

Time flies, even here at home, where there is nothing much doing, the days quickly pass. My new year was spent at home in the usual manner.

Vintage New Year's Postcard
Vintage New Year’s Postcard from the 1910s

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

I agree with Grandma–Time flies!

New Year’s Day is a good time for reflection.

We are now three-quarters of the way through the diary. Grandma kept her diary for exactly four years—she began it in January, 1911 and the last entry was in December, 1914.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Grandma better via this blog. And, it’s been wonderful re-connecting with relatives and making many wonderful new friends.

When I began posting these entries on January 1, 2011, I doubted that I’d ever get to this point. Now I’m starting to feel a little sad that the end of the diary is only a year away—and I’m beginning to think about what I want to do next:

  • Use the information I’ve compiled for this blog to write a book about Grandma?. . .or maybe a cookbook of hundred-year-old recipes updated for today?
  • Continue the blog, but without the diary, and instead focus on hundred-year-old magazine pictures, stories, and ads?
  •  Select a different relative. . .and a different time period, and then tell their story on a blog over the course of a year or two? . . maybe using a handwritten cookbook as a jumping off point?
  • . . . or maybe doing something entirely different?

It’s been a wonderful three years. Thank you! I look forward to sharing the final diary entries this year, as well as occasionally brainstorming ideas for my next project.


A Wonderful Christmas Day

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

Thursday, December 25, 1913:  The day of preparation and expectation has dawned at last. Arose earlier than usual because it was Christmas. Am very much pleased with my presents. Have fourteen of them.

Besse and Curt were out for dinner. We had roast chickens.

Am not so sorry that the day is almost over, for e’er another year has gone its round and she will be with us again.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1913)

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


It sounds like you had an absolutely perfect day.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Service at the Lutheran Church

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

Wednesday, December 24, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning with Pa on the big wagon. This trip finished my Xmas shopping.

Ruth and I went up to McEwensville this evening to attend the Christmas services in the Lutheran Church. Was pretty dark coming home. Discovered on the way that I had left my umbrella behind me. Hope I get it again.

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville
Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

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

Grandma generally attended the Baptist Church, but Messiah Lutheran Church in McEwensville apparently held a Christmas Eve service each year that community members attended. Grandma also attended the Christmas Eve services at the Lutheran Church in 1911.

(An aside: Grandma’s future husband, Raymond Swartz, attended Messiah Lutheran Church—though he and Grandma weren’t yet an item when this diary entry was written.)

Christmas is a time for memories. I’m going to reprint part of the post that I did on Christmas Eve, 2011 below. It’s equally relevant this year, and I thought that you might enjoy reading (or rereading) it.


When I was a child I regularly went to candlelight services at Messiah Lutheran Church  — the same church Grandma attended on Christmas Eve a hundred years ago.  I wonder if the services have changed much over the years.

In the middle part of the last century, I remember singing wonderful old-time carols at the candlelight service —We Three Kings, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels,  . .. . ..

We’d end with Silent Night after all of the lights had been extinguished except for the candles we were lighting.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know why, but I have strong memories of one year when an elderly woman didn’t extinguish her candle at the end of the service, and took the flickering light out into the cold night.

I remember asking my mother why the woman didn’t follow the directions—and my mother said that the old lady was remembering Christmas’s from long ago and that we should let her be.  I looked at the woman and could see how happy she looked as her face was illuminated by the flickering light.

I hope that I have equally wonderful memories of Christamases past when I am her age.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Greenery Decorating Ideas

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

Monday, December 1, 1913:

The very last, December comes

That month that is held so dear

With a shout of mirth

We welcome the birth

For the month that dies the year.

It seems to me that old father time must be running a race with something or other, the days spin ‘round so swiftly.


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

Were the Muffly’s starting to decorate for Christmas as the days spun by? Here’s some ideas for using greenery that were in the December, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal.



1913-12-81.aYou might also enjoy several previous posts that showed hundred-year-old Christmas decorating ideas:

Christmas Tree Decorations a Hundred Years Ago

Christmas Table Decorations and Centerpieces a Hundred Years Ago

One Hundred-Year-Old December School Bulletin Board Ideas

Old-fashioned Mistletoe and Candy Kiss Decoration

Monthly Poem

Grandma begins each month with a poem.  For additional information about them see:

Monthly Poem in Diary

Halloween Parties a Hundred Years Ago

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

Friday, October 31, 1913: At last this old house sees a party. It was fun to see the guests arrive. There were gowned in many crazy ways. One fellow wore a skirt with hoops and looked too silly for anything. We also had a clown, a ghost, and a witch. The rest were dressed in any old way. As for the false faces, they were about as ugly as could be. There were twenty-one in all and made quite a merry company.

As it was Halloween, one of the guests caught it. Someone unhitched his buggy and carted it away, but it was found at last.

Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

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

Boo! What a fun party!

Here’s the description of a Halloween party in the October, 1913 issue of McCall’s Magazine:

The house is dark as the guests arrive. A black-robed figure silently opens the door, and mysteriously points them up the staircase, illuminated by a single Jack-o’-Lantern, to a dark room above, where they may remove their wraps. A mysterious something, swathed in a sheet, assists them. . .

As they leave the room voices have dropped to whispers and timid ones stay close together. They follow a series of pointing hands, cut out of black paper, which are indicated by the yellow splotches of candles along the dark hall.

Finally, they come to a large room, dark save for one orange light, where an icy hand takes theirs and leads them to seats. The hand is a glove filled with ice, which the hostess extends. Before the silence becomes oppressive; light appears at the far end of the room behind a sheet. Then begins a shadow pantomime. The real figures are between the light and the sheet, so that the audience sees only their shadows thrown upon the latter.

The pantomime may be anything you choose: not more than four people should be in it, and they will have no end of fun, the week beforehand, working out any scheme they devise.

Some rehearsing will be necessary to regulate the lights, as their distance from the curtain determines whether the shadows will  be large or small. The last picture must show witches with capes and high-pointed caps, singing weird incantations over a caldron. They are still there when the sheet is drawn aside and the guests rush forward, to recognize in one of them their hostess. As the lights are raised, the tension breaks and the merriment runs high.