Revisiting old edition of “Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife” Mag.

Month of magic is March on the farm. Patches of green show through the snow. Muddy water swells streams and rivers. The bottom drops out of country roads. Smoke rises from the sugar bush, the brooder house, the plant-growing house. All these are signs that winter … is going to move.

Going back

Seventy years ago this month, farmers, along with their wives and kids, were reading the latest issue of Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife, in which the above quote appeared.

In his editorial, Wheeler McMillen, quoted Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Fighting for the right is the best sport on earth.” Mr. McMillen went on to say, ” … fighting for the right (is) as exciting as … chess or baseball (or) lion hunting. The opposition is usually strong, and few holds are barred. The sport can be enjoyed almost anyplace from the school district to international areas (and) it can even be played solitaire.”

He didn’t tell his readers how to be certain they were actually right before joining the fray.

The “Goings-On in Washington” page was full of arguments against the proposed lend-lease bill by which the U.S. would advance aid to Great Britain in their fight against Hitler. The ultraconservative McMillen was dead set against any U.S. involvement in the European war.

Excerpts from the past

Some of the farm news items included the following tidbits: — Best News of the Month: Hog prices top $8 at Chicago.

— Friends Gave a “Hen” Party for newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Verlin Fellows, Stromsburg, Nebraska. Each guest brought a chicken and the Fellows wound up with a new flock of 29.

— Snow, belly-deep to horses has covered many of the cornfields of southern Minnesota. The big Armistice Day blizzard caught most of the corn yet on the stalk, and so it remains. The ground did not freeze beneath the snow, so farmers have been unable to pick corn.

— A-32 is dead. No, A-32 was not a secret service agent, but a good old White Leghorn hen.

During her lifetime she laid 1,422 eggs. Hatched on March 11, 1931, A-32 died January 17, 1941. She was one of three 1,000-egg hens developed by the North Carolina State College.

— That Old Husking Hook used by Otto Wullschleger of Kansas, was bought in 1907 and husked an estimated 27,000 bushels in 33 years. The hook was still good, but worn down, and Otto decided to retire “Old Faithful.” He sent it with a note of explanation to the manufacturer.

A company official replied that the hook was being placed in the company’s museum — and enclosed a check for $10 and a new husking hook. The new farm machinery that was discussed included the different manufacturer’s “vest pocket” combines of the straight through type, cutting a swath of five feet 01: less, although it was pointed out that “handling the straw after one of these small combines is still an unsolved problem. ”

— Also featured was Case’s new pickup baler that made “ready-sliced” bales that fell apart when the ties were cut, as well as IHC’s small 35-bushel, all steel manure spreader that cost less than $100.

— A “Report Card” for rural schools reported that one-fifth of all one-room schools existing in 1930 had been closed by 1940, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) had repaired 40,000 of the school buildings still in use. Although there had been “marked improvement” in things not requiring money-training and experience of teachers, teaching methods, courses of study, etc., very little gain had been made in things that did require money, such as length of the school term, teachers’ pay and building improvements.

— New movies included Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, and “Maisie Was a Lady” with Ann Sothern, Lew Ayres and Maureen O’Sullivan.

— The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the cost of medical care had gone up 16 percent since 1910-14, with ” … the average charge for a doctor’s visit to a farm home now $7 by day and $8 at night.”

— In Letters from Farm Women, someone had written earlier complaining about people listening in on the party line telephone. An Indiana lady gave the other side: “Out here in the Midwest, we don’t discuss our very private affairs over the telephone. But let me take ‘Disgusted’ to a typical Midwestern farm home.

— “‘Betty, you finish the breakfast, please. Mary Brown is sick this morning. I just heard Dave call her mother to see if she could help, but she can’t. So I’ll go help get her kids ready for school.’ or: “‘John, Bill White’s best horse is sick. I just heard him call the veterinarian. Bill’s been up all night, so why don’t you run over and help him with chores?’
“So, ‘listening in’ keeps farm folks bound together as one family with mutual sympathy and a desire to help each other.”

— A Pennsylvania girl wrote to Up in Polly’s Room. “Dear Polly: Are there any boys who don’t park and pet? It almost seems as though there aren’t. And if a girl objects to parking, it seems the boys don’t bother with her afterwards. What can be done?”
Polly replied: “From the letters I’ve had from boys, I’d say there are a good many who don’t park and pet. Look around you-you’ll find some.”

— Betty in Oklahoma wrote: “Dear Polly: My mother will not let me wear anklets or volleyball suits. How can I get her to let me?” Polly said, “Gym suits or shorts are not for street wear, though anklets are acceptable for casual school wear and for sports. ”

— Under “NOW IS THE TIME TO:” are the following suggestions: Move. Oilhamess. Make a will. Go to farm sales. Buy rubber boots. Prune the orchard. Order packaged bees. Build creeps for lambs. Have your deed recorded. Sow clover seed on snow. Decide where to put garden. Fix floats on automatic pig waterers. Top-dress alfalfa with superphosphate. Ask Mary if she’s ordered garden seeds. Plant some lettuce, radishes, peas and early potatoes. Have Junior stop at the locker after school and get some oysters for oyster stew.

Send questions or comments to Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460-0038.

About the Author

Sam Moore grew up on a family farm in Western Pennsylvania during the late 1930s and the 1940s. Although he left the farm in 1953, it never left him. He now lives near Salem, where he tinkers with a few old tractors, collects old farm literature, and writes about old machinery, farming practices and personal experiences for Farm and Dairy, as well as Farm Collector and Rural Heritage magazines. He has published one book about farm machinery, titled Implements for Farming with Horses and Mules. More Stories by Sam Moore

One Comment

  1. Roger says:

    I am looking for a farm type journal published in the early 1900s, my grandfather published a wife wanted letter in a “cupid column” in the magazine, where he met his future wife. What magazine of this time frame might have regularly published the “cupid column”?

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