In November of 1952, farmers and farmer’s wives were reading the Farm Journal magazine, which cost 20 cents. Times were good, although the Korean Conflict was dragging along after more than two years of see-saw fighting. Your humble correspondent was just five months away from becoming involved in that conflict as a member of the U.S. Army. Another Presidential election had just been decided, with Republicans the winners. Although the outcome of the election was unknown when F.J. went to press, the conservative editor was hopeful and wrote: “We believe that a truly sound prosperity must be based on a new majority in Congress, devoted to peace, honesty, and economy, with Eisenhower and Nixon in control of the executive branch.”
The November cover of the magazine featured a smiling young farm couple who had just voted and were dropping their paper ballots into the “secure” ballot box, a wooden frame covered with chicken wire.
Auto and truck ads included Oldsmobile (“Park with just 1 finger” with new power steering), and Chevrolet and GMC trucks, while Chrysler showed off three “idea cars,” the Phaeton, K-310 and C-200. Also featured were Studebaker’s 100th anniversary, Dodge “Job-Rated” and Ford trucks, Willys 4-wheel drive trucks and station wagons, and the famous Hudson Hornet.
Farm machinery ads touted International Harvester’s “5-Star Service,” as well as Massey-Harris Colt and Mustang tractors and the new Ferguson 30, while farmers were urged to bring their New Holland balers to a dealer for “Triple-Check Service” to prepare for next summer.
Other vintage magazine ads included Firestone, General and Goodyear tractor tires, Camel cigarettes, Sanka coffee, GE radios, Coleman and Duotherm oil-burning heating stoves, Hammond organs, U.S. Royal work boots, Cities Service, Pennzoil and Texaco oil, Prestolite batteries and anti-freeze, Tru-Temper cutting tools, AC fuel pumps and Perfect Circle piston rings, and Remington and Ithaca arms and ammunition. Just in time for Christmas were ads for Lionel trains and Western Flyer bicycles.
There were feature articles on sorghums, how to conduct yourself while travelling by train and a new method of harvesting alfalfa seed by spraying the plants with a chemical when the seed pods are ripe but the plant still green, causing the plant to quickly die and be ready for combining.
Farmers were advised to buy corn and raise hogs which would be high during the coming year. Milk prices were predicted to be higher, and soy bean prices would rise, with “$3 beans by April.” Prospects for farm prices were predicted to be generally higher all through 1953.
Under “Now Is the Time to:” were the following recommendations. Vote; Kill rats; Saw wood; Rise early; Read Matt. 25; Fix the chimney; Repair your credit; Put in window panes; Mulch the strawberries; Build a shed for the sheep; Buy anti-freeze; Eat six pancakes for breakfast; Order Mom’s Christmas present; Get Shorty a tool box of his own; Clean the fertilizer spreader—good; Be sure there’s no water left in sprayer tank or hoses; Tell Sister’s young man to put a muffler on his jalopy, or you’ll let the air out of his tires; Be thankful—for home, family, community, and for the American concept of liberty.
In "The Farmer’s Wife" section one could find recommendations for “Built-in storage (to) get rid of clutter,” a story about Paris fashions and a new house plan. An article on how to make “Thanksgiving dinner in the best Southern manner,” included, beside the roast turkey, recipes for frozen ambrosia, sauerkraut (“The kraut tartness helps cut the richness of the rest of the dinner”), baked dressing and lima beans in piquant sauce.
Under “slick tricks” were these hints to farm wives: To open a sugar sack place sack with straight stitching, rather than the chain stitch, toward you. Start pulling the string from the right side. Wear rubber gloves over light-weight gloves when hanging out wet clothes in finger-freezing weather. Store small matching buttons on a fine hairpin; twist ends together to hold buttons. Melt shortening for a cake right in the mixing bowl by setting bowl in pan of hot water.
Ads were for Tide detergent and Clorox, Westinghouse, Norge and Frigidaire kitchen ranges, Karo syrup, Jell-O, Nabisco Shredded Wheat, Quaker Oats and Post Toasties, Maytag and Hotpoint washers, Lysol, Bactine, Tums, Pepto Bismol and Castoria, and IH and Victor chest freezers.
In “Up in Polly’s Room,” a teenage girl told how she’d broken a date with one boy to go out with another and both guys found out and dropped her. Polly told her she’d asked for it and that she should resolve never to do it again. Another was writing to a boy in the service and wanted to know how long her letters should be. Polly replied that there was no set length; it depended upon how much she had to say.
Movies reviewed included “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Sullivan; “On the ‘cute’ side, but worth seeing.” “Son of Ali Baba” with Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie was deemed “Not intended to be taken seriously.” “Four Poster” with the only two actors being Rex Harrison and his wife Lili Palmer reprising a 45-year journey through a marriage; “Not recommended for men.” Finally, “Crimson Pirate” with Burt Lancaster; “Tops in light entertainment.”
On the “Passed by the Non-Sensor” page were these gems:
“Percy—“This scientist says the inside of the earth isn’t as hot as we thought.” Flage—“No, and neither is the outside!”
Peebles—“I see the FBI is arresting people for playing slot machines.” Jeebles—“Yep—it’s a serious crime to throw your money away before Washington can get hold of it.” Uncle Levi Zink asked “Is there such a thing as politics in Heaven? Don’t be silly—how could you have politics without politicians?”
It’s fun to glance through the old magazines and see what was important to farm folks at that time.
An old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast in the making. (From November, 1952 Farm Journal magazine in the author’s collection.)