Gardener's Grapevine 2012.01.18

Written by David Green.

Sunday afternoon is my time to “chill” with the computer and a cup of hot tea and write this article. Sometimes life just is so peaceful. I say this as I watch our big orange tabby cat, Crankshaft, chase a squirrel across the side yard.

This cat is not aware that the squirrel is not going to be all that fun if he catches him. Squirrels bite, and extremely hard; they’re not animals that enjoy being messed with. My dad’s King Charles spaniel, Cooper, is not aware of this either and he spends his days looking out the window guarding the house from the dreaded squirrels. It makes me laugh to think of the big surprise both of these animals would get if a squirrel decided to turn the table.

I was doing some reading yesterday and came across an article in Country Living about the Farmers Almanac. I remember seeing the almanac in the home of my great-grandparents, Hila and Estel Elderdge, as a young child. I never took the time to read it though. Then one Christmas I was looking for an extra gift for my uncle Dwight Houttieker and my aunt said get him the Farmers Almanac. As I stood in line to pay for it, I glanced through this small piece of literature.

It appears more magazine than book, yet reads like an informative book. It is really quite fascinating and usually the predictions are right. Apparently farmers had been following this book for years with success.

The article I read had some interesting tidbits I thought I would share: 

The almanac was first published during George Washington’s administration. It was used by Abraham Lincoln to discount a witness in an 1858 murder trial. The hole in the upper left corner of each copy was originally intended to hang the book up in the “outhouse.” During WWII the FBI discovered the Farmers Almanac in a German spy’s coat pocket. It has only had 13 editors over the years. A printing mix up in July 1816 had a snow prediction, and strangely enough it actually did snow that summer.

This little book is really fun reading for a gardener and most times it is on the money with predictions. It is available at most places selling a big selection of magazines, and is reasonably priced at $5.99.

Saturday morning I went up to our beautiful library to pick up my weekly  books on CD. I have discovered the world of interlibrary loans—I can request my favorite authors and soon they are there. What a great thing and I can use it right at home. When you drive an hour to and from work every day, recorded books are gifts straight from the big guy himself. 

While I was there I started doing some more research on when this column started and what it was like then. I liked the newspaper back then; it was so personal. Maybe because I knew a lot of the people or just the way it was put together. It seemed like a great big Christmas letter. Who married who in extreme detail; who visited who; who was in the hospital and released.

The articles written by Maude Chase really grab me. Either the lady had a mind like a computer or she kept some very detailed notebooks. I read every one of her articles and it’s why it’s taking me forever to get any information on the Grapevine article.

I did run across some interesting ads. The A&P grocery store had lettuce for ten cents a head January 7, 1960. The seed costs more than that now. Cauliflower was twenty-nine cents a head and navel oranges were forty-nine cents a dozen. Wow! How about two loaves of white bread for thirty-five cents or eggs for thirty-seven cents a dozen? Consumers Power ran an ad that said “what works 24 hours a day nonstop for twenty cents a day?” That’s how much electricity cost then. What a huge difference 52 years can make.

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