Hundred-year-old Double Boiler Advertisement

Double Boiler Ad (LHJ, 1-1915)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (January, 1915)

Double boilers apparently were extremely popular a hundred years ago. I’m intrigued that the Quaker Oats Company apparently considered them so desirable that they were part of the company’s marketing initiative. Customers were given double boilers when they sent in a dollar plus several trademark pictures cut off the oatmeal packages.

When I made the Coffee Pudding recipe earlier this week, the hundred-year-old recipe stated that it should be cooked in a double boiler.

Since many people today don’t own double boiIers, I adjusted the recipe to say that it should be cooked “in a saucepan (use a double boiler if available)”.

Double boilers reduce the likelihood that food in contact with the bottom surface of a pan will be scorched. If a double boiler isn’t used when making puddings, and other easy-to-burn foods, it is important to stir constantly, and ensure the spoon goes to the very bottom of the pan and regularly touches every single millimeter of the bottom surface.

Hot off the Press—A Hundred Years Ago Returns!

SherylA new version of A Hundred Year Ago that focuses more on the foods and slower-paced lifestyle of the early 1900s will be rolled out later this week. I plan to do posts about twice a week.

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered that even when I’m not blogging, I still enjoy making hundred-year-old recipes that use seasonal, local foods. I also continue to be fascinated by the simpler way of life a hundred years ago.

And, I discovered how much I missed the blogging community. I met so many wonderful people during the four years that I did A Hundred Years Ago.

I finally realized that A Hundred Years Ago could continue without the diary. . . dah. . . I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to figure that out.

Over the next few days, I plan to update the look of A Hundred Years Ago. There probably will be moments when this blog looks very strange as I make the transition to a new template. Keep your fingers crossed that it goes smoothly.

See you soon!

Since all of Grandma’s diary entries have been posted, this blog has ended; but you’re invited to linger for a minute or two to explore the site. You may enjoy reading (or rereading) some of the posts.

I’d like to thank my family, friends, and the blogging community for your support and assistance. It’s been a wonderful four years. You’re awesome.

Final Diary Entry

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

Tuesday, December 29, 1914: This diary is surely doomed to be a failure and I am terribly tired of writing in it. Christmas has come and gone and I am just the same except a little older. Got some nice presents of which none were misfits. Ma and Ruth seemed to be pleased with the presented I gave them, so then I am satisfied.

Took down the tree today. We never keep our tree long, because there isn’t much to trim it with.

The Conclusion

Good-bye old year, good-bye. Tis now Dec. 29, but I am really ready to say good-bye. I haven’t much faith in myself nor has this friend with me, so it is best that we should part.


Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descedants at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, circa 1964
Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descendants at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, circa 1964

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

Good grief, Grandma. . . I hate to disagree on the very last day of the diary, but you are wrong. The diary has done some wonderful things–both for you and for me.

Get your confidence back quickly. You’re going to need it. I looked into my crystal ball and know that you have a long, magnificent life ahead of you with a fantastic husband, and wonderful children and grandchildren.

Adieu for now—I’ll catch up with you when our paths cross again. Go live the rest of your life. You’ll be awesome.

Grandma’s Fruit Bowl

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

Monday, December 28, 1914: <<no entry>>


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

Sigh. . . No diary entry again. I know that the end of the diary is near, and I am relishing these last few days of A Hundred Years Ago.

As the diary winds down and we send Grandma off to live the rest of her life—and me off to a new blogging project,–I’ve been thinking about some of the mementos of Grandma’s that I’ll continue to see on a daily basis.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Grandma passed shortly after I got married; and, when the grandchildren were given an opportunity to select items they would like to have from her house, I selected practical items that I needed. One item I selected was Grandma’s ironing board.

Another item I chose was her fruit bowl. It has sat on my kitchen counter, generally filed with a bunch of bananas (or a few pears or plums), for more than 30 years. I’ve lived in several different homes across that time period, but the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter has been a constant.

The fruit bowl is so functional (yet beautiful)—and I seldom even think about its history—but it’s kind of nice that items that once were Grandma’s are part of my home. The past and the present all somehow merge.

Grandma at my Wedding

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

Sunday, December 27, 1914: <<no entry>>

my grandfather on the other side of the family, Grandma, me, my husband

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

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, today I’d like share another photo of Grandma and me. This one was taken at my wedding.

Cloth Calendars

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

Wednesday, December 23, 1914: <<no entry>>

cloth calendar 1963

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

Across the past few years I’ve shared many stories about my grandmother as an older woman. I’d like to on of them since it so aptly describe my memories of her. This is what I wrote on January 29, 2011:

Since not much happened a hundred years ago on this date—let’s fast forward to another January day 52 years later–probably a very routine day from Grandma’s perspective, but a day that I still remember.

In January 1963 Grandma would have been 68 years old. I was 7 and often visited her in her cozy bungalow on a neighboring farm. Cloth dish towels with calendars printed on them were the fad at the time, and Grandma always had a cloth calendar hanging decoratively in her kitchen. The calendar towel had a dowel running through the top hem and a string attached to the ends of the dowels, and it hung from a nail that was pounded into the wall.

I noticed that the calendar said 1957. I was old enough to know that the year was 1963. I asked Grandma why she had an old calendar.

She replied, “Calendars repeat themselves every so often.” She walked over to the closet at the far end of the kitchen, opened the door, and showed me a stack of cloth calendars. On top of the folded stack was a sheet of paper with Grandma’s handwriting on it. It indicated which years were the same. For example, one row on the page may have said 1958, 1969 which indicated that the 1958 calendar could be reused in 1969.

She pulled out calendars and explained how some patterns repeated with regularity—whereas due to the vagaries of leap year–other calendar patterns seldom repeated. It was so complicated that I could barely follow her explanation—but trying to understand calendar quirks consumed my mental energy for the next several days. I looked at calendars, drew calendars, asked questions about leap year. . .

Today it’s easy to find out when calendar years repeat with a quick internet search—it was a much harder task back then. But, looking back, Grandma’s explanation that day partially frames how I think about her. She was smart, and obviously enjoyed the challenge of keeping track of calendars and years.

Grandma was also always very frugal and reusing old calendars seemed to fit her. I wonder if the 15-year-old in the diary would have been as frugal—or if the Great Depression and other events in the intervening years made her thriftier.

Four years later I think that I can answer my question at the end of that post. Based on Grandma’s diary, I think that Grandma always was fairly thrifty and didn’t like to deplete her pocketbook unnecessarily.