A phone conversation with an old friend rekindled lots of memories. Paul Friend, Steuben County, Ind., was a Purdue University Extension educator in northeast Indiana. He nominated five successful Master Farmers during his career.
But that wasn’t why we chatted. While tracing his family history, he discovered an old ticket stub from a unique event. It was billed for Saturday, Jan. 26, 1935, in the Alumni Gymnasium in Auburn, Ind. We couldn’t confirm that the event happened, but a man named O.V. Squires held a ticket for the 8 p.m. performance.
“He was my grandmother’s brother, and he farmed with my dad, Arthur, near Auburn during that time,” Paul said.
What was so important that a high school would give up its gym on a Saturday night during basketball season? The ticket was for “Prairie Farmer’s Mass Meeting and Entertainment.” While this event occurred before Paul was born, he’s learned that these were held often during the time period. What caught his attention was that one of the features was to be “moving pictures” of Slim & Spud. They were cartoon characters featured in Prairie Farmer.
“I still remember reading and laughing at those cartoons when the Indiana Prairie Farmer carried the cartoon during my career,” Paul said.
The late Max Gwin, Nappanee, Ind., penned the cartoon from 1955 through 1991. Featuring favorite cartoons of the past, the iconic Slim & Spud remained in the magazine for several more years. Although Gwin sold cartoons to some 300 publications, Slim & Spud was his longest-running cartoon.
The Adventures of Slim & Spud first appeared in Prairie Farmer in 1921. A 55-page comic book edition was published in 1924. Word has it that various staff artists, and even a Wisconsin farmer, kept the cartoon alive until Gwin took it over. He is one of six nationally recognized cartoonists to hail from Nappanee.
The featured speaker for the 1935 program in Auburn, according to the ticket stub, was William Renshaw, longtime manager of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He is also credited for forming the Flying Farmers of Prairie Farmer Land and was a pilot himself.
In honor of Paul’s discovery and fascination with Slim & Spud, we’ve selected a few of these cartoons for you to enjoy in the accompanying slideshow. Welcome to a piece of Indiana Prairie Farmer’s past!
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