Days Are Growing Murky

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

Sunday, November 1, 1914:

Chill winders are howling at us now,

And days are growing murky.

The weeks sweep on onto the doom,

Of the saddened sorrowful turkey.


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


Is something wrong? The poem this month seems gloomier than most. You’ve never looked forward to the coming of winter, but other years you also could see that there were also a few upsides to November.

Here are the November poems from previous years:


November now is here again

Upon her scenes we’ll linger

Thanksgiving comes e’er she has gone

We count the days upon our fingers.


November brings us many things

And among them is Thanksgiving

The first of the snow

The winds that blow

And all that makes life worthwhile.


November, hastening before the fool steps of winter,

Brings back the stark realities of life.

It is not all the cup of brimming pleasure.

That crowns the triumph of a common strife.

Monthly Poems

Grandma began every month with a poem. For more details see this post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

Halloween Night

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

Saturday, October 31, 1914:  This is All Saints’ Eve and the moon is shining brightly. Would have liked to have dressed up and gone out Halloweening.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

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


Boo! What a spookactular night! You should have gone to town and had a little fun.

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.

The Role of Librarians

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

Tuesday, October 27, 1914:  << no entry>>


Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

I found this interesting opinion piece about the role of librarians in the November, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Since Grandma again didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I thought you might enjoy it.

Do We Have the Best Man or Woman?

Fifty of every one hundred persons who go to public libraries ask, according to librarians: “What is a good book for me to read?” In other words the choice of reading is, in this large percentage, left to the discretionary direction of the man or woman behind the public,-library desk. Very few persons, it is said, ask for a definite book.

Accepting this condition as a fact, the responsibility of the librarian is great, but the responsibility of the community in selecting the librarian is even greater.

In other words, communities should think a little more carefully of the fitness of those whom they place in charge of the public libraries, and of those who are already there. Are they the best that can be secured to direct the reading of the community?

I also found it interesting that both men and women were librarians a hundred years ago. It was one of few jobs that were not gender specific back then.

Sanitation and the Prevention of Epidemics

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

Sunday, October 24, 1914: << no entry>>

Public Health Expert, Dr. Manton Carrick (Source: Ladies Home Journal, September, 1914)
Public Health Expert, Dr. Manton Carrick (Source: Ladies Home Journal, September, 1914)

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

Sometimes I’m amazed how a hundred-year-old  article can seem uncannily similar to current news stories. Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

Texas had a meningitis epidemic in 1912—and the state was trying to figure out how to prevent future epidemics. Here’s some quotes from an article in the September, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal:

The Man Who is Cleaning Up Texas

Down in Dallas, Texas lives Doctor Manton M. Carrick, a man who studies medicine to learn to live. All about him in that great open country of the Southwest people were dying of tuberculosis, meningitis, and other equally preventable diseases.

Two years ago Texas was panic-stricken at the spread of a meningitis epidemic that for some time baffled the most frantic efforts of all the medical authorities. Dying out as it had begun, without any apparent cause or reason, the epidemic left the people aghast at the destruction wrought and anxious for a remedy for the future. “How shall we prevent the recurrence of this dread disease?” was the universal question.

Into this dubious crisis there came the suggestion that a cleaner Texas would mean a healthier Texas.

To the supervision of this war for sanitation was appointed Dr. Carrick. Dr. Carrick’s method of procedure was always simple and straightforward.

Arriving at a town, and depositing his baggage at the hotel, he wasted no time in preliminaries, but went straight out to his work. Parks, streets and alleys; water-supply and drainage systems; garbage disposal; general appearance of homes, condition of vacant lots; ventilation, sanitation and evidences of care taken of public buildings; toilet and lighting facilities in schools, prevalence of flies, mosquitoes and vermin; methods of storekeepers and butchers—none of these escaped his searching eye.

With his pad and pencil he tabulated the relative condition of every town that he visited, and when he could escape the importunities of the townspeople for a lecture on public health, was off to the next city. In every town he judged the points of the town—to use his own words—“as the points of a hog, a steer or a chicken would be judged.”

At first the visits of the Doctor were looked upon with some distrust and dismay by the town authorities. Bat as news of the campaign spread and the citizens of the towns learned that Doctor Carrick’s errand was on of helpfulness, the dormant spirit of civic pride became, thoroughly aroused and the towns set to work with a will.

Dr. Carrick and Texas have indeed “made good health contagious.”

Photos of Jim Muffly as an Adult

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

Saturday, October 24, 1914:  << no entry>>

Jim Muffly, 1927
Jim Muffly, 1927

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

Yesterday, I posted a photo of Grandma’s younger brother, Jim Muffly. I thought that you might enjoy several additional photos of him across his lifetime.

Jim went to college and became a veterinarian.

Jim & Miriam Muffly
Jim & Miriam Muffly, 1930

Jim married twice. His first wife, Miriam died many years ago. He later married his second wife, Ruth.

His veterinary practice was in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, which was about 10 miles from the farm where Grandma grew up. Much of his work involved treating cows and other farm animals. As described in a previous post, Jim  invented a magnetic retriever that was used to remove nails and other metal from the stomachs of cows that ingested them.

Jim Muffly, 1983
Jim Muffly, 1983

P.S. It’s again Friday, and I have another Friday Update on my author website, Sheryl This week I’m working on designing my forthcoming blog about my great aunt who joined the Women’s Army Corps (WACS)–and I could use your help. I came up with several possible design options, but can’t decide which I like the best. If you have a couple minutes, it would be wonderful if you could take a look at them, and vote on your favorite.

Farm Dogs

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

Friday, October 23, 1914: << no entry>>

Jimmie Muffly, circa 1913
Jimmie Muffly, circa 1913

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


What happened today? There MUST have been something worth writing about.

For example, I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned your family’s dog in the diary. Yet you obviously had one—and, based on the picture of your brother Jimmie with a dog, he looks like he was a fine one.

Did he ever get into trouble? Did you ever play with him? Did he herd cows? Was he allowed in the house? What did he eat?

. . . And I guess I have a very basic question: Was the dog a “he” or a “she.”

I’m not sure what type of dog the Muffly’s had, but here’s a short piece about how collies make wonderful farm dogs that appeared in the October, 1914 issue of Farm Journal:


We shall favor no particular breed of dogs, but we present here a portrait of a collie.

Collies are the ideal dogs for the farm. They are gentle and affectionate, make fine pets for the children and are possessed of a rare amount of intelligence.

A collie can be trained so that if he is told to watch something he will do it for hours at a time and if told to “get the cows” will do so. They are better cattle drivers than humans. While a cow may have at times very determined ideas about what she is going to do and what not, a collie can be just as persistently determined that she agree to his way of thinking.

But a badly trained collie, or one not trained at all, may prove to be a great nuisance to have about.

Source: Dog Breeds-Find the Best
Source: Dog Breeds-Find the Best