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Signs of the Times in Rural America

Speaking the same language is sometimes difficult between urban dwellers and folks who live in the rural areas of our country.

| July 2019

With all that area available (note the vast space in the background) it is amazing that both town “deposit” locations were close together.

In what now seems a long time ago, first on the radio and later on television, there was a program named Truth or Consequences. Contestants from the audience were required to interpret what individuals who worked in specific occupations were saying when they made a one-sentence statement in that occupation’s unique jargon. If they could, they received a cash prize. If they couldn’t (as usually was the case), they had to suffer the consequences and had to perform some unusual and often humorous activity that the audience would enjoy seeing.

To advertise the nationwide program, the producers offered a sizable amount of money to any community that would change its name to Truth or Consequences. A small town in New Mexico did just that and still operates under that name today. The farmer who provided me with my first job driving a tractor retired there.

I’ve spent a good share of my life doing farm work. Back in the 1980s, during long hours spent in the field, I often tried to figure out what a farmer’s one-line statement about his operation would be that would be hard for the average person to decipher.

Based on my experience raising hay and grain, here is what I came up with: “After a major effort to maintain neat windrows, near sundown we picked it up and shut it down so early morning preparations could be made.” A farm employee might utter that statement without a second thought. I’m sure you readers understand immediately but just in case you don’t (and if you were on the program, you would have to suffer the consequences), the translation will be given at the end of this article.

On seeing this sign, a city resident visiting our area asked if Smith & Wesson was a local insurance agency.


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