Between the Bookends: Corn Husking Contests, Route 66, Christmas Remembered and more
Looking for a little something special to tuck under the tree this Christmas? We’ve rounded up an assortment of treasures to delight anyone on your list. From competitive corn husking to the nostalgia of Route 66, one of these new releases is sure to make long winter evenings pass by more quickly!
There was a time when corn husking was the fastest growing sporting event in the U.S. – and a new DVD captures all the giddy excitement of those days. When Farmers Were Heroes: The Era of National Corn Husking Contests, produced by Heritage Documentaries, Inc., is a 27-minute documentary tracing the rise of competitive corn husking.
Take the phone off the hook and make the popcorn before you put this DVD in the player: The action moves at a brisk clip and you won’t want to miss any of it. The video features original film, photographs, artifacts and interviews with competitors from 1930s era events.
It is one thing to read about crowds that numbered in the tens of thousands, corporate sponsorships and fan followings – but seeing actual footage of the events and the excitement surrounding them brings a unique era to life. A plus for educators: Classroom guides are also available.
When Farmers Were Heroes: The Era of National Corn Husking Contests, available for $10 plus $2 s/h from Regena Schantz, 1117 East Denison Ave., Davenport, IA 52803 or at www.heritagedocumentaries.org.
Speak the words “Route 66,” and the person of a certain age is instantly transported back to a time of enormous optimism, enthusiasm and wonder. Ambling across the U.S. from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif., the legendary highway is fondly remembered as “America’s Main Street.”
Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America’s Main Street is a hugely entertaining romp through travel in the 1950s and ’60s. Lavishly illustrated with terrific color photos, vintage postcards and memorabilia of the route and the era, the book is like a beautifully assembled photo album.
Terrific old road maps, pennants and menus, matchbooks and brochures tell the story that unfolded in the postwar years when road construction boomed and Americans discovered the road trip. Read about the development of the Airstream travel trailer, a host of “only in America” tourist destinations (Regal Reptile Ranch, Cadillac Ranch and Wigwam Villages among them) and unique and long-lost service stations with a gimmick.
The book does an astonishing job of capturing the look and feel of an era, from the chamber of commerce “Hi-how-are-you” to the cool glow of neon on a summer night. There’s just one word for Greetings from Route 66: fun!
Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America’s Main Street, hard cover, color illustrations, Voyageur Press, $30, available through Farm Collector Books.
The focus of Ben Logan’s Christmas Remembered is the holiday and memorable family occasions surrounding it. But nearly all of the essays in this book center on life on a remote Wisconsin farm in the 1930s.
Don’t judge a book by its cover: The sweet illustration of Santa in toyland seems an odd choice for this text, which is a poignant recollection of farm life seen through a boy’s eyes. Nestled quietly behind holiday recollections are memories of doing chores in a blizzard, the role of the rural school in a remote community, looking out for neighbors and war-time holidays spent near the battlefield.
Logan does not sugarcoat his memoir. It is a simple, true remembrance of a time long past, and a reflection on what he refers to as “the fifth season.” A good read at any time of the year.
Christmas Remembered, by Ben Logan, hard cover, black-and-white illustrations,Voyageur Press, $17.99, available from the publisher at www.voyageurpress.com.
Nothing new under the sun? The John Harvey 2011 Classic Farm Tractors calendar is an exception to that rule. The 22nd in a series, the 2011 calendar features an eye-popping assortment of handsome, rare tractors, ranging from a 1911 IHC Titan to a 1962 Minneapolis-Moline G 706 LP.
All the bases are covered, from toys to riding mowers to the 1976 Steiger Panther II done up in patriotic colors. The calendar even includes an interesting page on cotton pickers past and present, showcasing a terrific restoration of a 1961 IH Model 314.
The cover of the 2011 calendar sports a fine trio of Farmalls owned by Ray Miller in front of his barn, which is painted with an enormous American flag. The flag is a commemoration of the 9/11 terrorist attack; United Flight 93 went down in a field near the Miller farm in Somerset County, Pa.
A national memorial, financed by public and private monies, is planned at the crash site. Classic Farm Tractors is supporting that effort through creation of commemorative T-shirts and sweatshirts; net proceeds will be donated to the memorial fund.
Classic Farm Tractors 2011 calendar, and Memorial T-shirts/sweatshirts, available from Classic Tractor Fever, (800) 888-8979 (Monday through Saturday only), or online at www.classictractors.com.
And something for the ladies: We’ve all heard tales of the legendary threshers’ meals, but this reprint of vintage recipes dating to the early 1900s makes clear how it was done. The Farmer’s Wife Harvest Cookbook includes not only recipes but also complete meal plans and preparation schedules for the spreads laid out for threshing crews.
Pulled from the pages of The Farmer’s Wife, a monthly magazine published in Minnesota from 1893 to 1939, the recipes give a glimpse into a different time and place. The ingredients and cooking techniques are familiar – but everything was simpler, less exotic and came in smaller portions than what we are familiar with today.
The recipes are interspersed with passages from the magazine offering advice on feeding mobs of hungry men: What worked, what didn’t, how to get a head start on the day (buy bread from the bakery in town, advised one harried cook), how to set up a washing station for the crew, even how to guide the men through their first experience with a “cafeteria style” meal (what we would term a buffet today).
Chapters focusing on picnics, cookouts and meals made from garden produce are rich with detail of domestic life in the early years of the 20th century. Whether you ever use a recipe from it or not, this cookbook is a fun-to-read historic gem.
The Farmer’s Wife Harvest Cookbook: Over 300 Blue-ribbon Recipes, edited by Lela Nargi, hard cover, black-and-white illustrations, Voyageur Press, $14.95, available through Farm Collector Books. FC
Between the Bookends: Art of the John Deere Tractor, Josephine Roberts Hits the Road & Kid Stuff
Looking at a group of intriguing new books: Art of the John Deere Tractor by Lee Klancher, Gwen and the Art of Tractor Travel by Josephine Roberts, the Tractor Mac series by Billy Steers, and Grandpa’s Tractor by Michael Garland.
Classics for the Tractor Enthusiast
Between the bookends: Four new titles perfect for the tractor enthusiast cover early tractors to more modern models.
Book excerpt: One Farm Kid’s Memory of his John Deere Model G
Philip Hasheider recalls his first experience driving his family’s rusty John Deere model G as a farm kid in an excerpt from My First Tractor: Stories of Farmers and Their First Love.