Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"The Farmer Takes A Wife"

No, I'm not blogging about the T.V. show The Bachelor. But if anything could make me watch that program, having this season's bachelor being a farmer from Iowa would.
My post title comes from an unexpected "little hello for 2015" we received from Kristina in yesterday's mail.

The May 1939 issue of the Farm Journal. Oh my goodness! I read this 'older than me' magazine with much more avidity than I would any current publication. The cover illustration is Grant Wood's Spilt Milk. I feel certain the magazine is something Gene and Kristina found on one of their antiquing forays. Kristina mentioned in her note how much they enjoyed learning about Iowa's own, Grant Wood.

Note that the cover says Farm Journal and Farmer's Wife. This was the first issue combining what had been two separate magazines both published monthly by Farm Journal, Inc., Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pa.

And this is the sweet cover of The Farmer's Wife section of the magazine illustrated by Mallé (Maud) Tousey Fangel, touting the short story, "The Farmer Takes A Wife". The Farm Journal section also contains a story - part three of the serialized "No Man's Land". I haven't read it yet, but I have the feeling I will like it better than the one in the womens' section.

The best parts of this old magazine, for me, are the ads. Ads for Gold Medal and Pillsbury flours, Lux and Palmolive soap, Prince Albert, Velvet and Union Leader (pipe and 'roll your own' cigarette) tobaccos, Savage automatic and bolt action rifles and Daisy Air Rifles. The air rifle, what we called B-B guns, at $2.50 was about half the price of a bolt action, single shot, Savage .22 at $4.95. (The most expensive rifle was the Model 6 automatic which held 15, .22 long cartridges.)

The "big three", Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth, all had full page ads. Naturally I used the Plymouth example. I remember many long debates (arguments?) among the boys in grade school as to which was the best car. Dad drove a Plymouth, Mitchell's stuck up for Chevy's and someone, maybe Talty, argued Fords were best. $685 for a Sedan! Tires for a car cost that much today.

Then there was this ad for Colored Dinnerware. No where in the ad does it say Fiesta Ware but that has to be what it is. The offer is a way to earn your own sets by selling Farm Journal subscriptions. Colors were: luscious raspberry red, sunny yellow, powder blue and lettuce green. Tangerine could be substituted for the red, "if you prefer". The ad says: "Your Last Chance" - the offer was being repeated for the benefit of Farm Journal readers because "thousands of readers of Farmer's Wife have already secured their sets."

And the chicken ads! I counted forty different  display ads for chicks and a column and half of classified ads for them (about 30 ads). Of all those companies I know of at least one still in business today, 76 years later - Murray McMurray Hatchery, Webster City, Iowa. (mcmurrayhatchery.com) I think I'm going to sign up for their e-mail newsletter.
Raising chickens has become de rigueur in urban areas. It was just part of the farm operation in my day. Although looking at the Non-Sensor column in this magazine, I think it may have been a money making proposition, too - Uncle Levi Zinc Says: "Seasons come and seasons go, but this is the season when any good office man can take pencil and paper and quickly get rich raising chickens."

I have the feeling this old magazine may spark some more blog entries. It has certainly brought back some memories. The final thought in the Topics In Season column: "Things are growing. Wherever you look there is life -- colts in the pasture, calves in the barn, chicks under the brooder, bees in the orchard, new grass in the fields, green leaves on the trees, early planted crops sprouting.
Anyone looking for hidden values in rural life can find them in May."

It may only be January, but I'm ready for spring!

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