My Generation

To Serve God and Country

A trip down memory lane - and through a couple boxes of stuff - reminds me why I love Prairie Farmer. And old stuff. And old agricultural stuff.

I've had two boxes of stuff sitting in the corner of my office for well over a year now. I knew they were full of Prairie Farmer memorabilia, rescued from our Decatur office when we closed it in early 2009. I just hadn't taken the time to sift through them, because I knew I'd get sucked in and I didn't have time to get sucked in. Until today, when I didn't really have time to get sucked in, but I let it happen anyway.

The thing is, I just love all this old farm stuff. I love that Prairie Farmer has been around since 1841. I love reading an issue from 1906 and knowing that it was written before my grandpa was born. I love reading letters from Clifford Gregory, who was the editor in the early 1900s and known for his crusading ways, as he wrote to readers regarding the importance of their families. I love the "Prairie Farmer Creed," which was published until just a few years ago:

            To serve God and country
            To conserve our priceless soils
            To protect the family farm
            To support the agricultural community

I love the old line drawings, like this one, of the Prairie Farmer office in Chicago.

"You are welcome" – what a great phrase. It reminds me of the way my grandma used the word "terrific," not as another word for really great but to describe something great in size.

My seven-year-old asked me what this was. I told her it was one of the buildings where Prairie Farmer used to be and she asked, "So that's where you used to work?" Yes, and right next door, we invented fire. And the wheel.

 And here, subscription rates from 1862. Think they gave away a cap with that?

Can you just imagine getting war news on a weekly basis? Not daily, not hourly, not online. Once a week. To think your best information on your husband or brother or father's life in the Civil War was based on a dispatch's report on what regiments he may have heard may have taken heavy artillery fire. These were hardy folks.

I love the design on this old sign. Prairie Farmer must have, too. Check out the reward for anyone caught messin' with this sign. So feisty. Don't mess with my sign and don't mess with my farm. Two exclamation marks. The Protective Union was organized in 1845 to help settlers fight horse thieves. I wonder how many of these signs are hanging in barns and rusting on corner posts all over Illinois?

And this. Don't even get me started on the Master Farmers. I get weirdly emotional at the thought. They're such great people. This photo is from the second Master Farmer banquet, in 1926 in Chicago. It was a black tie affair. Look how wonderfully serious they are.

I also found a Prairie Farmer poultry tattoo in the box. I was beyond excited about this. No idea why I didn't take a picture, but it's late now and it's not going to happen. I've always heard about these but never seen one before. Prairie Farmer manufactured and distributed them back when chicken rustling was a problem.

It's a long ways we've come, folks. From chicken rustling and mud roads, to cage-free crusaders and empty road coffers. Makes me wonder what will be tucked away in a box in the corner of some editor's office in another 70 years.

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