While a look back through thousands of articles in the bound volumes of Delta Farm Press provides a reflection of Mid-South agriculture over the past three-quarters of a century, the advertising too, mirrors the equipment, practices, and technology of the times (however antiquated they may seem now).
Some of the earliest of the ads are reproduced here.
There’s the 1950s ad for John Deere. “The throaty roar of the sturdy, two-cylinder engines of the John Deere Tractor goes on and on,” it says. “Weary operators climb down, others take their places. Through dawn, dusk, and midnight — twenty-four hours a day — three shifts keep the tractors lurching down gullies, clinging to slopes, streaking along level terrain.” (The trac-
tor was air-conditioned by Mother Nature, had no cab or ROP devices.)
Also offered in the 1950s were the Oliver “66” and “88” tractors, similarly unequipped.
“How Could You Buy Anything Else?” asks the ad for the Massey-Harris Self-Propelled Corn Picker. “Pick any two rows without down rows …finish your corn harvest without a hand-husked ear on your place … that’s the way you’ll save time and labor when you harvest your corn with a Massey-Harris Self-Propelled Corn Picker.” It further notes “Rain-soaked or snow-covered fields don’t bother the Self-Propelled…”
In a February 1962 issue was a full page announcement of Amiben being approved to “meet a vital need for a dependable soybean weed killer … without reducing yields; effective in all soils; leaves no residue.”
In a very rare color ad (DFP was black-and-white only until the 1970s, and then used only “spot” colors), there was an ad for a Ford self-propelled combine — “The leader in separating capacity: biggest where it counts most.”
Classified ads were a part of the publication from the beginning, and as the years went on became a significant money-maker. In the early days, the “Want Ads,” and later the “Delta Farmers Marketplace,” offered everything from homes for sale or rent to descriptions of lost mules, job openings, and the latest appliances for the farm home.
- Strayed from my place near Sabino, 2 dark mare mules about 10 years old, weight about 500 pounds, a bit thin.
Frank Walker, Lambert, Miss.
- Opportunity of a Lifetime supplying DDT and other profitable products for farmers. No experience or capital required. Must have auto and good references. Permanent. Write or wire McNess Co.
- For sale: One 1946 Chevrolet Coach Deluxe Car with five new tires, radio, heater, $895.00 S.J. Avery, Jonestown
- For sale: Enough Tenn. building stone to build 5 room house. $125.00 Phone 1103
A 1964 full page ad from the Geigy Corp., “Creators of chemicals for modern agriculture,” tells farmers “How to grow corn without weeds … at planting time, apply atrazine or simazine herbicide.”
And for a break between farm chores, a Coca-Cola (in a glass bottle) was only 5 cents.
An ad for the Case “SC” model, proclaimed “a FULL 2-plow tractor, has the power, speed, and tractor to get full capacity from all implements of 2-plow rating.”
And Sunflower Laundry at Clarksdale, Miss., advertised, “Our special messenger will call for your furs at your convenience, store them safely in our protected vaults, and return them to you next fall. Budget-low charges.”
Patent medicine advertising was common in the early days of DFP. A half-page ad for S.S.S., “First in tonics,” offered relief from “cranky disposition — that run-down, dragged-out, tired feeling that may be the result of starved, weak blood.” Further, “Doctors’ tests prove you get new vigor and pep, when you energize your body with rich, red blood.” It is worth noting that many of the remedies of the era were high in alcohol.
An ad for Miss. Valley Sprayers & Dusters, showing a biplane in action over a field, urges: “Soybean farmers, Defoliate your soybean crop with Shell ‘Early Frost.’”
“Blast cotton insects with Endrin Methyl Parathion,” says a Velsicol Chemical display ad promising “quick knock-down…with higher initial kill and longer lasting-action.
Shell Chemical Corporation advertised “New Chemical Kills Weevils! Shell Aldrin (Compound 118), The powerful insecticide that killweevils inside the squares.”
More early day classified ads:
- How about a baked apple today? Try mine. E.J. Mullens Jr. Find them at No. 2 fire station.
- For sale: One good Jersey milk cow, two months fresh, giving 3-1/2 gallon, and would give more if on pasture.
- Wanted reliable girl to drive to New York with family. Room with bath in home. Good pay. Bring references.
- 15-1/2 foot Century Mahogany speedboat in perfect condition. Complete with windshield, steering wheel, throttle, and flags. Powered with 1946 model 24 horsepower Johnson Seahorse. This beautiful boat may be seen at Henry’s Place on Moon Lake.
- Sleep in comfort on the hottest of nites. Breeze Condition your home with Coolair Attic Fan. Soundless in operation. Delightfully cool. Reasonably priced, with 36 months to pay.
- Proofreaders wanted, Previous knowledge not necessary, but must have high school education with ability to spell and practical knowledge. Such a person can be taught. Persons with weak eyes should not apply.
- Wanted: Plantation manager for one of the best plantations in Mississippi County, Ark., 1000 acres of sandy loam land, produces cotton, vegetables, alfalfa. Prefer man between 30 and 45 years of age. Must be sober, honest, and reliable, one who can get labor and keep it. Must know how to farm with tractor. Excellent pay for right man.
- For Sale: Two six-row boll weevil poison machines and 5,000 pounds poison. Machines are in good condition. J.L. Spencer, North Carrollton, Miss.
- Attention Planters: For Sale, cotton picking sacks, 12 oz. heavy army duck. 9 foot size-$2.25 each. 7-1/2 foot size $2.00 each. R&R Salvage Co.
- Free removal of dead or useless animals…horses, cattle, hogs. Call collect (if not skinned or decomposed). “We pick ‘em up.” Mike Lewis, Lula, Miss.
- Wanted: Boy or girl for soda fountain work at Marion Parlor.
- For Sale: Ambulance-Hearse, Studebaker President 8 with attendant’s seat, cot, and church trucks and flower racks. This machine has been jacked up since 1944, original paint job, factory rebuilt motor, good upholstery. Priced to sell. Owner quitting business. Fred C. Banks
- For Sale: 1,120 acres of fine Delta land located in Tallahatchie County, Miss. Approximately 720 acres in cultivatable land. One manager’s house, 16 tenant houses, one big cypress barn cost $8,000 to build. Artesian well. A bargain for $55,000. See Cliff Pritchard, Charleston, Miss.