GRANDMA'S DIARIES • Corn Yield From 57 To 11 Bushels

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Grandma's Diary readers are the best! Lots of information concerning Hog Lake came from Tom Anderson and Lula M. Clark. Tom and I had a wonderful phone conversation talking about Hog Lake and our memories of growing up as neighbors just outside Butler. He first reminded me of the novel and TV series "Lonesome Dove." He said, "Do you remember that when the Lonesome Dove crew were moving west, they took a bunch of hogs with them. Do you know why?" My answer, of course, was "bacon"? "No," said Tom. "It was because hogs are such great snake killers." It seems that Hog Lake, which was actually in Christian County just north of Morrisonville according to Mrs. Clark, and was an extremely swampy place filled with rattlesnakes and copperheads. It also had the best soil in the Midwest. In order to get the snakes to vacate the property, farmers released a herd of hogs there, and the snakes became dinner for the pigs. This clever plan rid the area of snakes and fattened the hogs. In a great letter to me, Mrs. Clark told a similar story and was so helpful in really pinpointing the location of Hog Lake. I really appreciate both Tom and Lula for solving the mystery for us.

Friday, Oct. 1, 1954–John Keith sowed wheat for Carl. Carl says moon is just right–new moon. I didn't go to quilt on Mrs. Streight's quilt. The men might need the car here.

Saturday, Oct. 2, 1954–We went to Hillsboro before noon. Looked rainy. Carl got alfalfa seed and timothy. Fred Duncheon got his wheat sowed. Then John came in late afternoon and sowed rye, alfalfa and timothy in the old pasture.

Monday, Oct. 4, 1954–Looks rainy. We went to Hillsboro after some bolts for the new wagon bed. I brought part of Margie's washing out. It made a big washing. I started washing about 9 a.m. Didn't rain until noon when it sprinkled enough to wet the heavy clothes. I put back her blankets, spread and some of my colored clothes.

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1954–Showers. I finally hung Margie's sheets up in the house. I dried a pair of Merle's trousers in the oven. Mary Nimmons, Ruth Keith and I went to a cooking demonstration (60 cents) at Moose Lodge. I got a recipe pamphlet and a paring knife. Charles Campbell came to help fix the old corn crib. Wayne about done picking corn. One field made 57 bushels, others 11 bushels.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1954–Carl needed to settle up for his gas tickets turned in for refund. We went to Hillsboro then N.E. to Raymond Lipe's to see some shoats then to George Best's. Fern (Best) had an awful tussle with flu. I talked her into serving toast and coffee. We got to Montgomery Ward’s about 1:45. I got drapes for my living room. We stopped at Wayne's. He was at Howy's. We went there. In Howy's corn picking he got two-and-a-half loads off of 40 acres. We put receipt for stored wheat in tin box.

Thursday, Oct. 7, 1954–Cold and clear; 44 degrees. I did a big washing for Margie, blankets, rugs, etc. Geraldine came looking for a job about 10:30. I told her she could iron, and she went after it. She got all but a few starched pieces done. We tried to put up the dining room stove, but the pipe wouldn't fit as usual. Carl went to the field to shuck some point rows of corn. I went to help, but he had quit. This was the first time I had walked through the corn. Terrible. Mostly nubbins, smut, mold.

Friday, Oct. 8, 1954–Mary Nimmons and I went quilting. Working on Ione Streight's quilt. I paid the Helping Hand $6.20 for quilting Carole and Connie's quilts, 420 yards thread at one-and-a-half cents per yard. Carole went back to school after an absence of three weeks. A bulldozer is making a pond in Sammons’ field south of us. John Keith has his pond close to Marian's made deeper.

Saturday, Oct. 9, 1954–Howy and Wayne came to pick corn. Corn is of poor quality, lots of smut and nubbins, but it is making more bushels per acre than Carl anticipated. George and Fern (Best) came just as the men were washing up for dinner. Merle and Jimmie were here for dinner also. Fern and I had hen and noodles while the men had meatloaf, etc. Geraldine, Larry and Linda came after dinner. They had had shots.

Sunday, Oct. 10, 1954–An ideal day. We drove to Edinburg and ate dinner there, not far from Assumption and on home. We had as an excuse that we wanted to see the oil fields developed the past few years near the two towns. Not much could be seen.

Monday, Oct. 11, 1954–2.3 inches rain in 24 hours. Showers until near 11 a.m. Wayne came early but too showery to pick corn. He went on to Howy's. They both came for early dinner. Wayne drove the picker and got stuck, but not so bad but what he could get out. James, Virginia (Ward), Geraldine and Dorothy went to Champaign to spend the day with Patty (Jim and Virginia's daughter). Wayne tells us that James has been notified he can rent his farm in Florida.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1954–Wayne and James left early for Memphis and on to Florida. The old cat caught one of my largest young roosters. She knew just where to bite at the base of the brain. He weighed three-and-a-quarter pounds without head and feathers. I dressed the rooster, and we sacked up the cat and took her a ride. Three miles north of Gillespie. We went on to Carlinville and got two bushels south of Carlinville, $2 and $1.50. Not too good quality. No worms however. Stopped at Herman's in Raymond and had the oil changed in the car.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1954–Cloudy, no rain. We left home about 7 a.m. drove to Wayne's. Geraldine drove us to Springfield. Carl and I went directly to Dr. Duncan's office. The bookkeeper sent us to Stern-White where he got his glasses. That man adjusted his glasses so they are more comfortable. He can see directly down easier. I went to Ione Streight's to a Stanley party.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 1954–.7 inches rain since the 2.3 inches. Heavy rain before noon. Hail at Butler. After six months I now have finished my jacket suit all but the button holes. Alberta wrote offering to put the lining in my jacket I just stalled along. I doubt if I ever attempt another. The directions were not clear to me.

Friday, Oct. 15, 1954–Chilly enough to have a fire at Helping Hand. Such black storm clouds around about. We got a little shower out of it. Mrs. Keith said it sleeted at their house. This was my day to be hostess at Helping Hand. Nine for dinner. Ray Raines ate dinner with us and paid one dollar. We quilted on Ione Streight's quilt. Mary Nimmons and I hurried to Sterlings, Hillsboro. I got a .77 bat of cotton. Mrs. Strieght spent the evening with us. Counted my spring chickens. Six short of the 54-48 left. I can't account for them unless the old cat got them. Two weeks ago I counted 54.

Sunday, Oct. 17, 1954–I went to church and Sunday School. We ate dinner and then drove to Wayne's. He got 60 calves from Memphis. They unloaded them from a double deck load while we were up there. Virginia (Ward) and Geraldine were looking through Good Housekeeping magazine for ideas on how to decorate Virginia's new home they are building in Florida. Carl paid McKinzie $100 for combining beans. High when they only made 11 bushels per acre.

Monday, Oct. 18, 1954–Heavy frost, but no damage. I washed and ironed. Did the north bedroom and dining room curtains. Later I took them to Mary Nimmons and put them in stretchers. Mary and I went to Hillsboro. I got a new elbow for the stove. Campbell worked a short day. He finished digging the potatoes.

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1954–About 40 degrees. I got my living room cleaned, the rug turned and a big mess of dishes washed. We went to Charlie Newport's. He has about 150 pigs, but too small to suit Carl. We went to Wayne's at night. He told Zimmerman he was moving to the Dr. Scherer farm. Jim Wards moved to Florida. Mrs. Scherer was so pleased that Jim found her a good renter. Paid Capper's Insurance Service $6 for Carl's and my accident insurance for one year.

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1954–40 degrees. Very nice day. I finished a plush jacket for myself. It was Augie Osborn's. Merle laid off some head lands for Carl to plow. Merle got stuck and had to quit. Hazel Corzine-Cooler passed away about one p.m. She is Maud's niece; 54 years old.

Thursday, Oct. 21, 1954–Beautiful day. We went to Rader’s in Hillsboro where Carl bought fencing lumber. I took Mary Nimmons and Margaret to an auction sale at the M.E. church in Irving. I got four little bowls, two candle sticks, two print sacks, coffee maker, etc. for 95 cents. Margaret got a beautiful hand painted plate. Mary, an apron and seven doilies. We went to the Bivin funeral home in Morrisonville to see Hazel Cooler. Such a lot of friends. We saw so many we knew when we lived near Morrisonville.

Friday, Oct. 22, 1954–Mary and I went quilting. I took my jacket to my suit, and Mrs. Allen Smith made the button holes and sewed on the buttons. She didn't charge anything for doing it Said I had already paid her.

Saturday, Oct. 23, 1954–I awakened about 3 a.m. with an awful hurting to the left of my back bone. It hurts so when I walk. I took kidney pills. Carl gave me two aspirins. He got his own breakfast. All I could do was lay there and think of all I should be doing.

Sunday, Oct. 24, 1954–My back is too irritable to go to Sunday School. Margaret invited us down there for dinner. We had a very nice dinner. They had a class meeting about 2 p.m. Carl and I went to Cleve Robinson's for a time.

Monday, Oct. 25, 1954–I didn't wash, but put my house plants on the stand for cold weather. I put the glass panel in the storm door. Marian came after three dozen eggs. Her two pups eat four eggs a day. Carl got a part of his wheat stubble plowed under. Quite a job. He says if it rains, he can't plow any more.

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 1954–.6 inches rain. My back has recovered. I butchered two friers. Made a cherry cobbler and thought George and Fern might come, but they didn't. Carl and I went to a sale at the east edge of Coffeen. All cars had to park along the road and such a crowd. We almost didn't find a place to park.

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1954–We finally got our living room stove ready to light. I took cream to Litchfield, $5.28, the highest we have received. Carl says he must begin drying “Rabbit” (the cow) up, and that will end our good cream and butter. Guess I better churn what cream we get and freeze the butter.

Friday, Oct. 29, 1954–Cloudy, rain, hail, snow flakes. First snow of the season. Gave the cellar a clearing and moved my big geranium down there. Washed up a batch of dishes to take to the auction. Mary and I went quilting. Bill Martin made a fire for us. Carl got returns from his 16 hogs. He kept one to butcher. Hogs weighed 244 pounds. He kept them longer than he intended, thinking the price would get better.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 1954–30 degrees. Ice near a quarter inch.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 1954–This is church Sunday. I attended. Carl didn't want to go anywhere, so we stayed home.

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 rosebudbooks@gmail.com.

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