Sue Bowman Rural Ramblings

I’m a lover of history, especially when it has some link to me or my family. Recently, when looking for something in my desk drawer, I came across a folded sheet of yellowed newspaper. It turned out to be a page torn from the March 1946 edition of Pennsylvania Grange News. I knew both of my parents were Grange members once upon a time, so I looked over both sides of this page to see why they had apparently saved it.

Maybe my mother was interested in “Martha Logan’s Recipe for Creole Pork Casserole.” It didn’t seem too exotic, calling for ground pork shoulder, onions, cooked macaroni, cooked tomatoes, grated cheese, salt and breadcrumbs. I could perhaps see her saving this recipe because it sounded tasty — as long as she could somehow disguise those tomatoes, which my dad wouldn’t eat.

There’s a cute little single frame cartoon entitled “Our City Cousin.” The caption reads, “City cousin on the lam, couldn’t tell ram from lamb — bam!” and the drawing with it shows a little boy flying through the air with a horned sheep in pursuit. I can hear my dad laughing at that one.

He also would’ve chuckled at the little filler item at the end of a column. “Soda Bill sez ... that too many folks never let thinking interfere with their talking,” and “Soda Bill sez … that it seems like many hands want light work.” The accompanying drawing of a man wearing a cowboy hat and a bemused expression apparently depicts Soda Bill.

There were also articles of a more serious nature. “Planned Calving Schedules” is the topic of an item written by K.S. Morrow from the University of New Hampshire. Spring of 1946 was when my parents moved to our farm and, while both of them had grown up on farms, perhaps they were interested in the latest information now that they had their own small herd of Holsteins. The article reports on a study of 4,030 lactation milk records of dairy cows in New Hampshire Dairy Herd Improvement Associations. It states, “Results showed cows that calved in December produced 1,712 pounds more milk than those calving in June. In addition to lowered total production, summer calving cows produced less milk per unit of grain fed than cows calving in other seasons.” I’m not sure if this is still true, but I found it to be interesting.

“Easy Does It” is the title of another article that deals with loading, unloading or handling livestock. It states, “Bruises, crippling and death losses cost American stockmen 12 million dollars each year — equivalent to the value of a single file of market hogs stretching all the way from St. Louis to Chicago.” The article notes that bruising was found in over 20% of all livestock slaughtered, and it goes on to provide six practical “loss-stoppers. “Never beat animals with whips or clubs” is rule number one; instead, using canvas slappers or electric prods is suggested.

“Clean the Brooder House before — not after — it is moved to clean ground,” states another brief article, which goes into great detail about the proper procedures for this task. “You Raise ’Em — He Sells ’Em” proclaims another headline. “From livestock on the range to meat on the kitchen range, Ollie E. Jones is the man, who perhaps more than any other, helps bridge that gap.” Mr. Jones works for Swift and Co. and it is noted that “The nationwide sales departments which he heads market more of the products of American farms and ranches than any other organization in the country.”

There are several other mentions on this page about Swift & Co., Union Stock Yards, Chicago 9, Illinois. One announcement talks about a “new and interesting movie named “BY-PRODUCTS,” telling of the by-products of cattle, hogs and lambs.” It says the film is in great demand, so there may be a delay of two weeks or longer when ordering it. “We will gladly send it to you for group meetings. All you pay is postage one way.” Another item says, “Remember prize letter contest closes May 1. $400 in Cash prizes for best letters on Methods Employed by Meat Packers in Marketing Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Butter and Cheese.”

The flip side of this page is titled, “The Lecturer’s Corner” by O. Walker Shannon, State Lecturer. It contains seasonal items such as the poem, “A Ballad of Easter,” by Theodosia Garrison and “How the Rabbit Became an Easter Toy,” by E.A. Matthews. Perhaps my favorite part of this page is advice for holding an April Fool’s Party. It includes some rather clever ideas for activities, like a cake walk, in which two teams race with each person having a cake of wet soap balanced on a knife blade. As for refreshments, one suggestion is to have a saucer of “salted nuts” consisting of machinist’s nuts, well-salted. For entertainment, a quartet is recommended in which the group gets up to sing, but mouths the words without making any sounds, while the audience tries to guess the song.

I’m still not sure what caused my parents to save this page, but isn’t it refreshing to hear about good old-fashioned, non-electronic fun, and valuable information that comes from somewhere other than a computer?

Sue Bowman is a freelance writer in southeastern Pennsylvania.