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Life Upon the Railway, by a Conductor

Sam MooreThe Western Division of our road runs through a very mountainous part of Virginia, and the stations are few and far between. About three miles from one of these stations, the road runs through a deep gorge of the Blue Ridge, and near the center is a small valley stood a small one-and-a-half-story log cabin. The few acres that surrounded it were well cultivated as a garden, and upon the fruits thereof lived a widow and her three children, by the name of Graff. They were, indeed, untutored in the cold charities of an outside world—I doubt much if they ever saw the sun shine beyond their own native hills. In the summer time the children brought berries to the nearest station to sell, and with the money they bought a few of the necessities of the outside refinement.

The oldest of these children I should judge to be about twelve years, and the youngest about seven. They were all girls, and looked nice and clean, and their healthful appearance and natural delicacy gave them a ready welcome. They appeared as if they had been brought up to fear God and love their humble home and mother. I had often stopped my train and let them get off at their home, having found them at the station some three miles from home, after disposing of their berries.

I had children at home, and I knew their little feet would be tired in walking three miles, and therefore felt that it would be the same with these fatherless little ones. They seemed so pleased to ride, and thanked me with such hearty thanks, after letting them off near home. They frequently offered me nice, tempting baskets of fruit for my kindness; yet I never accepted any without paying their full value.

Now, if you remember, the winter of ’54 was very cold in that part of the State, and the snow was nearly three feet deep on the mountains.

On the night of the 26th of December, of that year, it turned around warm, and the rain fell in torrents. A terrible storm swept the mountain tops, and almost filled the valleys with water. That night my train was winding its way at its usual speed around the hills and through the valleys, and as the road-bed was all solid rock, I had no fear of the banks giving out. The night was intensely dark, and the winds moaned piteously through the deep gorges of the mountains.

It was near midnight when a sharp whistle from the engine brought me to my feet. I knew there was danger and sprang to the brakes at once, but the brakesmen were all at their posts and soon brought the train to a stop. I seized my lantern and found my way forward as soon as possible, when what a sight met my gaze! A bright fire of pine logs illuminated the track for some distance, and not over forty rods ahead of our train a horrible gulf had opened to receive us!

Train wreck

Although this drawing is of a European train, it illustrates what might have happened in Virginia if the above train hadn’t been warned of trouble ahead. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The snow, together with the rain, had torn the whole side of the mountain out, and eternity itself seemed spread out before us. The widow Graff and her children had found it out, and had brought light brush from their home below, and built a large fire to warn us of our danger. They had been there more than two hours watching beside that beacon of safety. As I went up where that old lady stood drenched through by the rain and sleet, she grasped my arm and cried: “Thank God we stopped you in time! Oh, I prayed to heaven that we might stop the train, and, my God, I thank thee!”

The children were crying for joy. I don’t very often pray, but I did then and there. I kneeled down by the side of that good old woman, and offered up thanks to an All Wise Being for our safe deliverance from a most terrible death, and called down blessings without number upon that good old woman and her children. Nearby stood the engineer, fireman, and brakesmen, the tears streaming down their bronzed cheeks.

I immediately got Mrs. Graff and the children into the cars out of the storm and cold. I related the story and begged the men passengers to go forward and see for themselves. They needed no further urging, and a great many of the ladies went also regardless of the storm. They soon returned and their pale faces gave full evidence of the frightful death we had escaped. The passengers vied with each other in their thanks and heartfelt gratitude towards Mrs. Graff and her children, and before the widow left the train she was presented with a purse of four hundred and sixty dollars, the voluntary offering of a whole train of grateful passengers. She refused the proffered gift for some time, and said she had only done her duty, and the knowledge of having done so was all the reward she asked. However, she finally accepted the money and said it should go to educate her children.

In gratitude, the railway company built her a new house, gave her and her children a life pass over the road, and ordered all trains to stop and let her get off at home when she wished, but the employees needed no such orders, they appreciated such kindness—more so than the directors themselves.

The old lady frequently visits my home and she is at all times a welcome visitor at my fireside.  Two of the children are attending school at the same place.

Some ordinary folks can be heroes without even knowing it!

– Sam Moore

Working with Steers

Sam MooreI recently found an old book titled History of Pioneer Days in Texas and Oklahoma, by John A. Hart. Mr. Hart was born in Kentucky in 1850 but his mother died when he was 2 and he and a younger brother went to Indiana to his grandmother's. His grandparents moved to Texas in about 1855.

Hart tells the following stories (which I’ve edited somewhat) about working with steers, or oxen, that I found quite interesting.

Work steers were like all other animals, they had different temperaments and different dispositions and some steers if treated kindly were easy to get along with while others didn’t appreciate kind treatment

A young man told the experience he had hauling water on a lizard with a single steer. A lizard as we called it was a forked tree cut down and the fork of the tree was the sled. Boards were fastened across the two forks on which to set the barrel, and four standards to hold the barrel put in place. Put a half yoke on a steer and hitch it to the lizard and you were ready to haul water. The young man hitched the steer to the lizard and with the assistance of his sister drove half a mile for water. It was a warm day and by the time the barrel was filled they were both very tired. They drove about half way home when a heel fly struck the steer on the heels. A steer is very sensitive about a heel fly when it tackles a steer's heels so it was good-bye steer, lizard, water barrel, water and all. No use to try to stop a steer when a heel fly gets after him. The water was all gone, the barrel at one place, the lizard at another, and the old steer down in the creek bottom in a thicket looking very innocent.

My grandmother was a great hand for making soap. One day she had filled the ash hopper with ashes and poured water on them until the lye had begun to drip, but had run out of water. So Grandma and one of the girls hitched a steer to the lizard and were off for another barrel of water. Grandma carried the bucket and the girl drove the steer. Grandmother was a large fat old lady, and it being a warm day made the trip hard on her. The steer brought the water back to the yard gate all right and Grandmother went to open the gate so the girl could drive through. About the time the gate was opened, a heel fly, just to be friendly with the steer, visited his heels. Away went the steer, tore down the gate, ran against a stump, upset the barrel of water, run against the ash hopper and tore it down as flat as a pancake. The steer backed up in the shade of the smoke house and looked as though he had made a great victory.

Oxen pulling lumber
Two oxen hitched to a load of lumber. At least he won’t have to worry about heel flies in the winter. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In plowing corn with a steer you might work him for a week all right, but before you could take time to think he would run away and tear down the width of two or three rows of corn. It seemed the steer had all the fun and the driver all the trouble. Nothing ever pleases a boy more than to see a steer and a woman get in a mixup together. Some people may think a steer has no sense but this is a mistake. If a steer was properly broken to work and kindly treated, you scarcely ever had any trouble. But you always had to be careful in heel fly time because a cow or steer so poor they could hardly walk would run from a heel fly when nothing else could hardly get them to move.

One time Judge Embree concluded to go to Weatherford to the mill. He hitched a yoke of oxen to the wagon and put on two or three sacks of corn to be ground. Mrs. Embree went with him to market with some two dozen eggs and four chickens to barter. They got about half way to town when the heel flies got after the oxen and they left the road on double quick time. The eggs, chickens, corn, Mrs. Embree and the Judge, and the cart and steers were all scattered. The Judge got the cart and oxen and gathered up the corn, but Mrs. Embree lost the eggs and one chicken in the runaway.

When I was a small boy I drove from four to six yoke of oxen to a freight wagon. In those days ox teams were all the go, but now that the oxen’s days of labor are over I cannot help but have a kind feeling toward them. At the word of command I have seen a yoke of oxen at the wheel hold back and stall five yoke of oxen.

I wasn’t familiar with the term “heel flies,” but learned that it’s another name for warble flies, large, hairy flies that look a little like bees. After mating, the females locate cattle on which to lay their eggs, which are attached to the hairs of the cow’s legs. The larvae burrow into the skin, causing much irritation before burrowing through the animal’s connective tissue, finally reaching the cow’s back and forming a warble, or swelling, on the skin. The grubs grow inside these warbles until emerging through the skin, becoming adults, and beginning the cycle again.

Cattle will often panic when attacked by heel flies and run wildly to get away from them.

– Sam Moore

The History of Dibbling

Sam MoorePrior to the acceptance of low, minimum and no-till practices, plowing was considered the major task of the farmer. Tillage however is only the series of steps needed to prepare the soil for the real job – planting the seed. Without seed there can be no crop, and the proper placement of the seed is the most critical part of the operation.

For centuries seeding was haphazard; the seed was scattered by hand and then covered with a rake, harrow, or even by dragging a bundle of brush across it. This time-consuming and laborious method resulted in a lot of lost seed and low yields.

I’m a fan of a National Public Radio show called “Says You” on which, among other word games, a panel of “experts” tries to guess the meaning of obscure words. A while back, one of the mystery words was “dibble,” and no one knew what a dibble was (I knew this one, although I usually don’t).

One of the first feeble attempts to improve hand seeding was by a process known as “dibbling.” A hole was poked into the soil with a pointed stick or “dibble,” the seed was dropped into the hole and then covered by scraping a little dirt over the hole with the foot.

Dibbling persisted for hundreds of years; in 1600 an Englishman recommended “setting” seed over sowing broadcast and said the holes should be 3 inches apart and 3 inches deep. He and several others described dibbling frames that consisted of a series of properly spaced wooden pegs set into boards. These frames were lowered onto and forced into the soil, then lifted and carried forward where the process was repeated over and over again. The seeds were dropped into the holes thus made and then covered.

Although there had been hundreds of attempts through the centuries to come up with a mechanical way of sowing seed, the intricacies of a successful grain drill were beyond the capabilities of early inventors and none of the machines they dreamed up really answered the purpose. Seeding broadcast was still the most popular way of sowing well into the 18th century.

Dibbling had been known in the British Isles and practiced to some extent there for a long time, but the method seems to have really caught in the late-1700s. An agriculturist wrote in 1796 that dibbling was “one of the most valuable improvements that, perhaps, ever appeared in agriculture.” Another reported that in Lincolnshire, “Upon the whole, it (dibbling) has succeeded greatly.”

A clue to one reason dibbling became so popular in England during the first part of the 19th century may be found in the works of Charles Dickens. Anyone who has read Oliver Twist knows that children who were orphans or paupers became wards of the local parishes and were expected to work for their bread and gruel. A writer in Norfolk wrote that “dibbling resulted in the employment of thousands of the parochial poor children who would otherwise be without employment (and thus a financial burden) at that season.”

An English dibbling crew of the era consisted of one man and two or three children. The man carried two dibbling irons connected by a cross handle. One account tells us that he walked backwards (no doubt to keep an eye on his juvenile helpers) while he made two rows of holes 3 or 4 inches apart and maybe 2 inches deep. The kids, who were kept separated to keep them from chattering among themselves, followed and dropped three or four seeds into each hole. An old English ditty from around this time that may have been sung by the children to keep track of the number of seeds dispensed into each hole went, “One for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow.”

The children, or more probably their warders, were paid according to their ability. A very small child who could drop into only one row of holes was worth 3 pence per day, while one who could handle three rows brought 10-1/2 pence.

After the seeds were dropped they were covered by dragging a harrow across the field. Around 1800 the cost of dibbling was reported to be 8 shillings, 6 pence, to 10 shillings per acre, although that had dropped to about 7 shillings, 6 pence by 1840. This method of planting wheat was popular in eastern England until the middle of the 19th century.

About 1801, Jethro Tull, a progressive English farmer, made a successful drill. A wheeled, 2-row machine, Tull’s contraption opened channels in the soil, dropped the seeds into the channels and then covered them. Essentially, those functions are identical to the ones performed by today’s planters. Although drills were slow to catch on, in part due to often violent opposition from British farm laborers who believed the machines would put them out of work, their use gradually spread.

In this country drills were virtually unheard of before 1840, but in 1841 Samuel and Moses Pennock of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, patented a 7-row machine. Other American inventors got into the act and before the Civil War a force feed drill was developed.

Progress was steady throughout the rest of the 19th century with improved seed metering in both fluted feed and double-run styles. Furrow openers were greatly improved, as was the adoption of roller bearings, easier lubrication, and corrosion resistant seed and fertilizer boxes. Mechanical and then hydraulic lifts eased the physical effort required to raise and lower the planting units.

It’s a far cry from today’s farmer zipping across a huge field in a comfortable cab with a 40-foot grain drill behind him to a man with a two-row dibble followed by a pack of ragged urchins.

– Sam Moore

Multiple dibble in use

A primitive multiple dibble in use. (From The Growth of Industrial Art published by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1892.)

Goin' Courting

Sam MooreAlfred Tennyson wrote, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” As it’s nearly spring, by the calendar at least, here are a couple of takes on the gentle art of courtship.

JOSH BILLINGS ON COURTING

Courting is a luxury, it is salad, it is ice water, it is a beveridge, it is the pla spell ov the soul.

The man who haz never courted haz lived in vain; he haz bin a blind man amung landskapes and waterskapes; he haz bin a deff man in the land ov hand orgins, and by the side ov murmuring canals.

Courting is like 2 little springs ov soft water that steel out from under a rock at the fut ov a mountain and run down the hill side by side singing and dansing and spatering each uther, eddying and frothing and kaskading, now hiding under a bank, now full ov sun and now full ov shadder, till bimeby they jine and then they go slow.

I am in faver ov long courting; it gives the parties a chance to find out each uther’s trump kards, it is good exercise, and is jist as innersent as 2 merino lambs. Courting is like strawberries and creem, wants to be did slow, then yu git the flaver.

As a ginral thing I wouldn’t brag on uther gals mutch when I wuz courting, it mite look as tho yu knoo to mutch.

If yu will court 3 years in this wa, awl the time on the square, if yu don’t say it is a leetle the slikest time in yure life, yu kan git measured for a hat at my expense, and pay for it.

Don’t court for munny, nor buty, nor relashuns, theze things are jist about as onsartin as the keroseen refining bissness, liabel to git out ov repair and bust at enny minnit.

Court a gal for fun, for the luv yu bear her, for the vartue and goodniss thare is in her; court her for a wife and for a muther, court her as yu wud court a farm—for the strength ov the soil and the parfeckshun ov the title; court her as tho she wasnt a fule, and yu a nuther; court her in the kitchen, in the parlor, over the wash-tub, and at the pianner; court this wa, yung man, and if yu don’t git a good wife and she don’t git a good husband, the falt won’t be in the courting.

Yung man, yu kan rely upon Josh Billings, and if yu kant make these rules wurk jist send for him and he will sho yu how the thing is did, and it shant kost yu a cent.

Josh Billings was the pen name of a famous 19th century humorist and lecturer named Henry Wheeler Shaw. In his writing, Shaw often used wildly erratic phonetic spelling which seemed to endear him to his readers.

Another, more recent commentary on courtship was penned in 1927 by “The Cheerful Plowman,” aka Edward Tufft, and appeared in a 1927 issue of Pennsylvania Farmer magazine.

PUBLIC COURTSHIP

This movie show is spoiled for me by other things I have to see!
A spruce young fellow, quite a sheik, with hair greased back all smooth and sleek,
With nothing much below the skull, gray matter quite as thin as mull!
A giggling girl with shallow face and rather cheap and brassy grace,
Not just the kind I used to know when I went courting years ago!

You see, when I get tired and done I like a movie full of fun;
Long weary sessions with the cows and weary miles behind the plows
Make us old busy farmer men need recreation now and then,
So movies full of spice and pep restore the vigor to our step!
Yes, when I go I would relax, relieve the brain and muscle tax.
I would just settle back and grin until my tonsils tumbled in,
Throw back my head and stretch my arms, forget a while the cows and farms!

But, oh, how can I, tell me true, surrounded by this courting crew?
How can I ease my soul and face in such a public courting place?
How can I see a movie show when all about me row on row,
A hundred shows are being staged and all my senses are enraged?
My education may be queer, the product of an early year,
But it is still my firm belief that public courting leads to grief;
I offer as my brief report the parlor is the place to court!

Back when I was courting – more than a half-century ago – I wasn’t much for public courting, although I didn’t want it under the eyes of a mother or father in “the parlor” either. The wide front bench seat of my car at the drive-in theater, or parked on some secluded, moonlit lane was my idea of the “ideel plase!”

– Sam Moore

A man courting a woman

This drawing, titled “Courting,” is from an 1885 edition of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” and is furnished courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Cheerful Plowman

The Cheerful Plowman
By J. Edw. Tuftt

Sam MooreNeglecting minor choring around a fellow's farm
brings tragedies deploring and does a heap of harm!
It doesn't do, by Harry, to say, "another day,"
or "later," "let it tarry," "I'll lay this job away."
I once neglected fixing a neck yoke that was weak,
and soon my team was mixing with fishes in the creek.
I once said, "These old traces on this old harness here
are weakening in places and need some care, I fear,
but I'll get busy later and rivet on a strap,
right now I mustn't cater to this decrepid trap."
But, bingo, I was driving a wagon on a hill,
my team was nobly striving with most determined will,
when suddenly dividing, the traces gave a snap,
and backwards I was sliding and praying for a strap!

My buggy in its gearing, one summer long ago,
took on a case of veering and swaying to and fro,
but I said, "This has lasted for thirty years and more,
its fasteners were blasted from Pennsylvania's ore,
so one more week, I reckon, won't make or mar the rig,
although its braces beckon for splices strong and big!"
Well, on the road to Hease's, the day those words were said,
that buggy went to pieces and I was put to bed!

I learned those lessons early, and sadly if you please,
and retribution, burly, took me across his knees,
so I made solemn pledges to watch the little chores,
the buckles, and the wedges, the stitches and the bores,
the bolts, the pins, the castings, the rivets and the nails,
the braces and the mastings, the splices and the rails;
I took an oath tremendous to stand off no repairs
until a break stupendous brought tragedies and cares.
I fix each little crevice the day the break appears;
no broken tug or clevis has brought me grief for years!

The Pennsylvania Farmer, Nov. 21, 1925

Buggy accident

A buggy accident. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Shipping Cattle on Ocean Steamships

Sam MooreFrom a book named Ocean Steamships, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York in 1891, comes this brief account of shipping cattle from the United States to Europe. I thought it was rather interesting, especially the statement about packing the cattle tightly to protect them from injury. In light of today’s animal rights regulations, such practices would never fly.

“The loading of cattle-ships is interesting. The vessels are tied up to the docks in Jersey City and Weehawken, where the stock-yards are located, and the cattle are driven up a narrow gang-plank. When steamships take grain or other cargo in the hold and cattle on deck, the latter are usually loaded from barges at the wharf, or while the vessel is at anchor in the bay. Occasionally a fractious steer breaks away from the drivers, and, plunging over the side of the gang-plank, takes a bath in the water. A sailor jumps in and passes a rope around the animal, which is then hoisted on board by means of a block and tackle. The cattle are placed in strongly constructed pens between decks, as well as on the upper deck. The space for each head of cattle is fixed by law at 2 feet 6 inches by 8 feet. The pens hold half a dozen cattle each. Experience has shown that there was greater loss when more room than this was allowed for the cattle. A steer with plenty of room in his pen would roll from side to side and become bruised or crippled when a heavy sea was encountered. By packing the cattle tightly, they serve as buffers for each other, and the loss is diminished. Within the last two or three years the methods of shipping cattle have been improved, so that the loss is now less than two per cent.

Cattle steamship at sea

This picture, titled “A Cattle Steamship at Sea,” gives an idea of the conditions for both the cattle and "Cowboys of the Sea."

“The cost of shipping cattle from New York to Liverpool is about half a cent per pound, live weight. This includes the care and the feed during the voyage. From ten to a dozen men are employed to look after the cattle on the trip. Very low wages are paid these men, as there are always a number of applications on hand from impecunious men who are desirous of working their passage to Europe by taking care of the cattle. A few men are regularly engaged in the business of taking care of cattle at sea. They are known as “cowboys of the sea,” and are big burly fellows who are used to rough living and to facing danger. The work of feeding and watering the cattle is not an easy task in fair weather and with a rough sea on it is dangerous. When severe storms are met, the cattle become panic-stricken, and the men are obliged to go among them and quiet them. Sometimes the pens are broken down in a gale, and there is pandemonium aboard. Cattle-ships have arrived in port with only a small portion of the number of cattle taken on board, but as the losses fall upon the shippers and the reputation of the steamship line is to some extent at stake, they are, therefore, more interested in the safety of cattle at sea than anyone else. The efforts of Samuel Plimsoll, M.P., and the cattle inspectors of Great Britain and the United States, have materially improved the methods of this traffic.”

– Sam Moore

Leafing Through an Old Farm Magazine

Sam MooreI like to go through old magazines to see what was going on in the country at the time. Not only that, but if I'm stuck for a subject to write about, I can sometimes find a column (such as this one) in an old magazine. Seventy one years ago, Farm Journal readers, like my father and grandfather (and me as a 13-year-old), saw the following when they leafed through their December 1946 issue of Farm Journal magazine.

Allis-Chalmers looked ahead to summer with a full-color ad featuring a Model C tractor cultivating two rows of contoured, foot-high corn, as did IH with a Farmall M plowing down sod with a 3-bottom Little Genius plow. Willys-Overland touted their Universal Jeep as "a truck, light tractor, runabout, (and) mobile power unit."

Car-hungry farmers were treated to ads for the shiny new 1946 Buick, Plymouth and Dodge cars, while farm wives were tempted by Westinghouse radios, Pyrex Flameware, Frigidaire and Hotpoint electric refrigerators, Perfection oil heaters, and Gem Dandy electric churns.

Kate Smith, on CBS radio every Monday through Friday at 12 noon CST, advertised Post's 40% Bran Flakes – "And what could be more delicious Christmas morning than a luscious batch of hot, oven-fresh Post's Bran Muffins?" Film actress Hedy Lamarr assured us that Lipton Tea's "... brisk flavor is top drawer with me," while another Hollywood beauty, Anne Baxter, is shown glamorously snoozing on a Simmons Beautyrest mattress.

Prices being paid for farm products were dropping sharply after initial post-war highs, and FJ told farmers: "You take a grave risk when you hold products on a down market. Sell crops and livestock when ready for market, even though you don't get the top dollar."

President Harry Truman wasn't popular, with an approval rating of 32% and Republicans were joking that "... to err is Truman." Because of this, the mid-term election of 1946 resulted in Republicans winning control of both the House and Senate after many years of Democrat domination. Farm Journal cautioned: "May the Republicans travel humbly on their way to Washington! They have won, not a victory, but a chance to try to give the nation better government. Tired of New Dealism, the people have merely said, 'let's see what the other fellows can do.'"

Among the featured movies was My Darling Clementine, a western about the Earp brothers starring Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan and Victor Mature. Then there was Blondie Knows Best, with Penny Singleton as Blondie and Arthur Lake as Dagwood.

The Gillette Safety Razor Company – Look sharp! Feel sharp! Be sharp! – bragged about the smooth, refreshing shaves that Dewitt "Tex" Coulter, "... last year's great Army tackle, now with the New York Giants," got before he went on the field in a leather helmet to "anticipate enemy plays and stop them with uncanny precision."

In another ad, Santa Claus himself assured readers that a carton of Camel cigarettes or a one-pound tin of Prince Albert smoking tobacco were "Grand gifts for smokers."

Feature articles reported on a new sweet potato variety called Pelican Processor,  New York governor Thomas Dewey's dairy farm, how to "Lick Pullorum (a chicken disease) Now," and hunting pheasants in South Dakota.

A new self-propelled, 2-row corn picker, that could pick 20 to 30 acres per day, was announced by Massey-Harris, as "A machine that electrocutes weeds," from Apco Corp., of Los Angeles. Apco made a large trailer-mounted generator that powered a series of rake-like electrodes that were dragged across the ground, zapping 10 to 15 acres of weeds per day.

Speaking of weeds, FJ reported a "New source of income for Georgia farmers is growing kudzu crowns. With a ready market, some farmers sold as high as $10,000 worth of crowns (at $10 to $12 per 1,000) last spring.” Today they can’t get rid of the pesky stuff.

Under Changes We Want Made, are the following bright ideas. "Pack grease for pressure guns in cylindrical containers that can be slipped into the gun." This one came true, as did "Use flexible tubing to connect gas ranges, so they may be moved for cleaning." One man wanted "something to show hunters when a rabbit was close," while another guy wanted "square plates so we can back a pea into a corner."

In the Farmer's Wife section, recipes were given for a grand Christmas dinner that included steam-baked goose, delicious bread stuffing, Noel apples, and Christmas beet salad, as well as recipes for holiday cookies and frozen fruit cake.

A young girl wrote Dear Polly: "Last Christmas Eve, I was out with a boy whom I liked very much, and he asked me for a Christmas kiss. If it happens again, what should I do?" Polly answered that there's something about Christmas that "sometimes permits a holiday kiss for a special friend." She goes on: "If you step under the mistletoe, there's nothing much left to do but give in gracefully."

Finally, my favorite Farm Journal feature: Now Is The Time To.

Milk fast.
Let it snow.
Mulch roses.
Post your farm.
Read Psalm 100.
Keep an open mind.
Use Christmas seals.
Clean up junk piles.
Clip old boar's tusks.
Poison orchard mice.
Renew kitchen linoleum.
Cut next year's firewood.
Cover carrots with straw.
Help Fido with his fleas.
Count the days until Christmas.
Rabbit-proof young trees, shrubs.
Count your blessings; share them.
Keep machine sheds sparrow-free.
Put a petunia in the south window.
Ask the preacher if he likes chicken.
Encourage 4-H and F.F.A. members.
Clean leaves from rain spouts and gutters.
Put a new pane of glass in place of that pillow in the attic window.

Looking through these old magazines reminds me of the old song: "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

– Sam Moore

Farm Journal December 1946 cover

Cover of the December 1946 Farm Journal magazine (in the author’s collection).







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