Grandma's Diaries: Aug. 1954: Lost And Soaked At Fair


The hot, dry weather drags on into August 1954 with little relief in sight, but as usual the farm families just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Cousin Larry and his pals Charlie Dammann and Ward Jackson adventure throughout the neighborhood on horseback. Donna Harris and I, with my three-year-old sister in tow, have a scary adventure at the state fair. An even scarier experience for me was having to go to school in Hillsboro at the new junior high. I was very attached to Butler School and all my friends I had been with since first grade. Because of the school district consolidation our parents were given the option of sending us to Hillsboro. I remember Pat Clift, Loretta King, Mary Ann Ward and I were told we were going to Hillsboro to that huge (to us) new school. I was more scared of attending school in Hillsboro than I was of the misadventure at the fair. 

Sunday, Aug. 1, 1954–.5 inches rain, cooler. I baked a lemon pie, fried chicken, made bean salad and cottage cheese, and we took off for the Best reunion at Manners Park, Taylorville.

Monday, Aug. 2, 1954–.3 inches rain. Things look better. Carl walked through the corn field that was in pasture. He says there are not many ears. He brought in three for dinner. Howy Ward came and settled up for the crib of corn he bought. He had paid Carl $500 previously, 569 bushels at $1.50 for $853.50. I now have Carole's quilt top about ready to put in the frames.

Tuesday, Aug. 3, 1954–Newspaper clippings laid in: “Too Late in Some Drought Areas” some sections of the drought stricken lower half of Illinois...rain came too late to save many corn fields. “Death Toll From Heat Wave Mounts”...Crop, cattle and poultry losses mounted. The hot siege has taken at least 260 lives.

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1954–.4 inches rain. Took cream to Litchfield, on to Hillsboro for Carl to see about soil help to sow alfalfa. Rains go around every day. Newspaper clipping laid in: “The temperature rose to 113.8 degrees which is four degrees higher than the record set July 14, 1936. From July 4 to July 14 of that year, temperatures rose above 105 each day.”

Thursday, Aug. 5, 1954–Mary Nimmons and I went to the church before noon and put Carole's quilt in the frames. I washed after dinner and got them dry before a bad looking storm came up, but it went around. I ironed after supper. Carl and I went to Wayne's about 5 p.m. Wayne and Larry were helping Jim make an emergency silo. Carl is pulling hedge by himself. Top on hogs $22.40.

Saturday, Aug. 7, 1954–Carl had to pay auto insurance ($26.96). We first took two checks to the Raymond bank then to Litchfield with 15 dozen eggs. Grade A, .45. I bought 50 baby chicks. I got 50 pounds broiler mash. Geraldine and Linda called. We later went to Hillsboro for melons.

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 1954–We went to Hillsboro on business and to Litchfield for the generator on the tractor went bad. Howard Hodges hog sale tonight- registered hogs. I planted radish seed about now.

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 1954–Randy’s brought the generator for the tractor and put it on. I cut out material for a dress that Margaret gave me a long time ago. Linda and Geraldine came for supper and to stay all night. Geraldine is going tomorrow with the Home Bureau ladies to St. Louis on a sight-seeing trip.

Thursday, Aug. 12, 1954–.3 inches rain. Geraldine got off for her trip at 8 a.m. Linda and I went to Morrisonville so she could take her accordion lesson. The plowing contest on Woody Harris's farm for 1 p.m. was postponed because of rain. Carl disked his alfalfa ground.

Friday, Aug. 13, 1954–John Keith sowed his alfalfa. Still a lot of grasshoppers. Showered a bit. Geraldine and Linda went home. I planted some more garden. Mary (Nimmons) and I went quilting.  Carl still disking.

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 1954–.3 inches rain. We got up early even tho it was raining. I ironed and made some more quilt blocks. I baked a little cake. George and Fern came for dinner, I had to make biscuits for dinner, Carl and I went to Hillsboro about 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1954–Hot and humid. I worked on the quilt top. Carl cut a part of the yard. He was going to the other place to cut weeds, too hot. I thought so.  We went to Irving to find ripe peaches. No luck. Came back through Hillsboro. Stopped at what was Krites eating place and ate our supper. Whew! It sure is sultry. Newspaper article laid in: “Soybeans soared on the board of trade this week as if they were jet propelled. They finished 19 and a half to 25 and a half cents higher for the five-day period.”

Thursday, Aug. 19, 1954–.4 inches rain. Springfield had a bad storm and rain last night about 9 p.m. Almost a total wreck of TV antenna–all bent. Carl and I went to Wayne's. They were at Jim Ward's making ensilage. We went there. Merle called at one p.m. Asked us to go to the Fair. We went at 3:30. Donna Harris went with us. The three girls (Carole, Donna, and Connie) took off for Happy Hollow. Jim went with Merle and Carl. Margie and I looked at the quilts, wild animals and booths where they sold trinkets, gadgets for the kitchen, etc. Began to sprinkle when we were in Happy Hollow. We hurried to the Prairie Farms tent. Carl was already there. The girls got lost and soaked. They got to police headquarters where a policeman wrapped Connie in a coat, and he brought them to the Prairie Farms tent. Rained hard for an hour and a half. Subway flooded. We took the by-pass. Home about 11:40 p.m. –.4 inches rain at fair. No rain here.

Saturday, Aug. 21, 1954–I went to Litchfield before noon. Took eggs and cream. Mrs. Ernest McCammon entered Hillsboro Hospital. Has a blood clot in her leg. Larry brought Rascal (his horse) after dinner.

Monday, Aug. 23, 1954–Hot. Carl and Larry went after a length of cable at Nimmons'. Larry drove the tractor and when they got back to the corner and brought tractor and wagon on home, I picked up Carl. We went to the Case Co. for a bolt for the mower. Larry, Charles Dammann, and Ward Jackson having a time riding horse back. Carl has paid Fred Bergman $43 for season's baling. 

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 1954–Hot. So hot in Springfield. Carl has an appointment with Dr. Duncan 10:30, daylight time. Geraldine took our car to take us. Dr. Duncan's examination says Carl's operation was a grand success. He could read all the lines on the test card, but the 20/20 line. He sent us to White. There a man fitted an exam for a lenticular lens for his eye. May take two weeks before he gets the glasses. Wayne sowed alfalfa on his west field.

Friday, Aug. 27, 1954–Hot. Mary and I went to quilt. The members finished the first of my twin bed quilts. I think it is pretty.

Saturday, Aug. 28, 1954–.2 inches rain. Went to Litchfield to get broiler mash. Krieger's were all out, so I went on to Ashes at Hillsboro, $2.90 for 50 pounds. Got the car out just before dark to go to Butler to get a bag of hog pellets, but found we didn't have lights that would dim. Keith’s came. 

Sunday, Aug. 29, 1954–Hot. We left for Charlie Newport's home at 11 a.m. for the Newport-Butler reunion. Robert Newport and family came from Fort Sill, KS. Robert had recently been made captain in the army.

Monday, Aug. 30, 1954–Cooler. I canned 14 quarts of peaches. Charles Dammann came and picked about a bushel of peaches. Too high for me and should be too high for Carl. Carl still working on his ground. I took the car to Raymond and had a new dimmer switch put on. Switch and labor $2.75. Carole started to Hillsboro to school.

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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