All the buzz these days is digital and social media. You know that or you wouldn't be reading this article on digital media.
Nevertheless, magazines still serve a purpose. Printed volumes preserve a record of what happened in agriculture through the years. Perhaps it's a snapshot, but you can pick up trends in what the writers wrote about and what companies advertised for.
Look at a few magazines and you can get a good picture of farming techniques and farm life in a time long ago.
Why do it? Roots – connections to values that too many people have forgotten. Go back in time to an era when a person's word meant something, and a farmer's word meant everything. Farm families worked hard but they also played hard.
Come to the Thursday Throwback blog over the next few weeks, and we will take you back in time through the pages of Farm Progress magazines. And stay alert – you might recognize someone- maybe an aunt, an uncle- maybe yourself!
Here's our first journey back in time.
The time machine stops in September 1953. It picked September because fall is coming soon. It picked 1953 because that was the year its creator – me – was born. I was an infant in a farmhouse that didn't yet have indoor facilities. My father likely received a copy of the magazine I pulled the following information from. That's how far back in time we are right now!
You're looking at page 6 of the 1953 Prairie Farmer, Indiana edition, which you retrieved from your mailbox.
On page 6 is the feature by the County Line Reporter. That's as far as the identification went. In just a few years, Carl Eiche, now retired senior editor, at the time just graduating from Kansas State University, would revise the format and continue a page devoted to one county each month for several years.
This one says "County with Everything – Morgan County, Ind. Has varied agriculture, industry, scenery and a diligent, friendly people. "
Here's what you would learn. The county was named after Daniel Morgan, a Revolutionary War official. I'm a Hoosier born and bred, and I didn't even know that before the Time Machine brought me to this article.
Paul Crooks was the county agent. Later he would become an important figure in the Purdue University Extension leadership on Purdue's campus. He worked in the day when Purdue Extension ruled staffs with an iron fist, at least as to where they would be working.
If you didn't go where they told you, you often didn't get a second chance. I know. In 1978 I interviewed to be a youth educator in Huntington County. They offered me the job but I decided I wasn't ready for it yet. They didn't yet have a covered show arena on the fairgrounds, and that concerned me a fair bit! I never heard from Purdue again.
OK, Time Machine, back to 1953. Morgan County farmers had a team of horses yet on almost every farm, at least according to Crooks. There were 1,891 farms in the county. The average farm size was 109 acres – you read right, one-hundred-and-nine acres!
Before the Time Machine whips us back to reality, take a look at the picture. These sisters were playing on a farm in Morgan County.
If you can identify them, let us know! Either call me at 317-431-8766, or email [email protected]. If you know any history about them, let us know that too.
Come back next Thursday for another journey in time. We will tell you who the girls are, and if we heard from anyone about them.
See you then.