GRANDMA'S DIARIES: January 1954–Farmers Day At Sears


In January 1954, my little sister Connie celebrated her third birthday. Grandma always provided a special angel food cake for our birthdays. The best angel food cake I've ever tasted. Of course, Tommy Anderson and family attended the celebration. Connie and Tommy were nearly inseparable when they were little kids. Some of you may remember the Sears "Farmers Day" event. It drew huge crowds of shoppers and was an opportunity to not only find some bargains, but also to enjoy visiting with friends and neighbors. Big barrels of unshelled peanuts were placed in nearly every aisle, and the floors were quickly covered with the crunchy shells. Tasty doughnuts were also offered to the shoppers. Have you noticed that Grandma sometimes uses some really old fashioned words? I hear her voice when I read words like "eventide" and "skift" of snow. Old fashioned, yes, but still lovely to hear. The most serious issue for them in 1954 is Grandpa's worsening vision. He had begun to develop cataracts, making driving and farm work more difficult. This situation, even with surgery, would become worse throughout 1954. Even milking "Rabbit" the cow became more difficult. 

Friday, Jan. 1, 1954–Clear and mild. Linda was here all night, and the family came later. I had invited George and Fern (Best), and they came near eleven. The Rose Parade from Pasadena came on television at 11:15 and was on until about 1 p.m. We watched until after 12, and then finished dinner so we could eat. Larry, Linda, and Wayne went hunting, but had no luck; game seems to be very scarce. We wonder if most didn't perish for want of water.

Sunday, Jan. 3, 1954–Clear and mild. Carl went to Sunday School with me. He went to see Connie put her birthday pennies in the jar. We went to Daisy Myers' funeral. She was a neighbor of mine about 1904.

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 1954–Cloudy and chilly. I cut out and made a bordered print dress. Irene Eckhoff gave me the material some three or four years ago. Carl went to Pearlie Mundhenk's cattle sale. Very few there. Corky is walking better every day. I baked an angel food cake for Connie's birthday tomorrow.

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 1954–Today is the birthday of Connie Lou Best, three years old. Margaret and Connie went to Litchfield with me when I took the eggs, Grade A 46 cents. I gave Connie $3 for her birthday. Margaret took it and $3 Toberman gave her and used it to buy Connie a snow suit. I baked her a cake, and she had Tommie Lee Anderson and the rest of the family for supper. Merle brought us 6600 pounds of coal, $28.05.

Thursday, Jan. 7, 1954–Subscribed for two years to Better Homes and Gardens, $3. Clear, 25 degrees at 8 a.m. Margaret called to tell me that Billlie Rhoads has scarlet fever. He was sick Monday and was at Merle’s all day. Amos Goodson came after hay.

Friday, Jan. 8, 1954–I went quilting at Mrs. Robinson's. Carole came home with me to spend the night. Amos Goodson got two more loads of hay.

Saturday, Jan. 9, 1954–It was Farmers Day at Sears. Carole and I went. I bought a house coat for Maud, a bath room rug and pillow tubing at Sterling’s. 

Sunday, Jan. 10, 1954–14 degrees above zero. Clear. Wow! We didn't go to church. Wayne’s came from Sunday School for eggs. They wouldn't stay for dinner. We didn't go anywhere. Margaret and the girls came at eventide for eggs. She brought the October, November and December missionary money.

Monday, Jan. 11, 1954–So chilly and a bit of snow. We went to Wayne's, and they took us to Springfield. Carl got to see Dr. Duncan without an appointment. Doctor was to be out of the city for March so talked Carl into waiting until April or May. Suited all of us fine as winter weather gets bad at times. I didn't buy but little.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 1954–Mrs. McCammon and Catherine Osborn came to practice a duet for Helping Hand meeting on Friday. Connie came while her mother got her hair set.

Thursday, Jan. 14, 1954–Hard roads are icy in spots. Wayne, Geraldine, Dorothy and Howy Ward went to Alton to the optician. Wayne gets new glasses. We went to Hillsboro before noon. Almost turned back when we skidded once. Carl paid his Farm Bureau dues. Wayne’s stopped on their way home for eggs. Carl says “Rabbit” (their cow whose coat was the color of a gray rabbit) has a bull calf. Guess he'll be Jack Rabbit. Ha!

Friday, Jan. 15, 1954–Foggy. I went to Harriet Busby's to a Stanley breakfast. Elsie Solander demonstrated. I bought $2.02 worth. Jim Busby had a bladder congestion. He shook as with an awful chill except he wasn't cold. Doctor said he had a convulsion. We had doughnuts and coffee and later sandwiches. After a half hour he got in bed and sweated profusely. Dr. Telfer came. We put up the quilt and quilted and held our meeting. Foggy all day, but cleared by 7 p.m. Wayne’s came to show their moving pictures of all of us. Merle’s were here too, all but Carole.

Saturday, Jan. 16, 1954–20 degrees about right I think. We went to Raymond to put Goodson's check in bank. Went on to Litchfield with 42 dozen eggs, Grade A 46 cents. Got home by noon. We were invited to Bob Nimmons for supper. Beef steak, gravy, etc. Got home in time to see the wrestling matches.

Sunday, Jan. 17, 1954–5 degrees above zero. Hot water faucet frozen up. Thawed it with the sun lamps from the brooder house. Too cold to go to Sunday School. Merle’s brought the paper. Carole and Jim stayed to watch TV. Carole and I made cake doughnuts. We took them home after supper. Dr. Scherer, dentist of Raymond, died.

Monday, Jan. 18, 1954–Cold. Margaret brought Connie to say with us while she, Luella, and Violet Root went to Springfield. Connie is very nice to visit with. She plays with Corky a lot.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 1954–Warm. Rained from 2 a.m. on. Thundered and lightening quite a lot. We drove to Taylorville at 9 a.m. I went to Ward’s and got two pieces of material for spring dresses. Got a new coat at the Shirley Shop, was $49. I got it for $35. Odd color, but I think I will like it. Some stores had their doors open because of warm weather. At 1:15 p.m. it was 50 degrees, by 5 p.m. 30 degrees. The thermometer didn't go much farther. I cut the waist for my dress and got most of it sewed after supper. 

Saturday, Jan. 23, 1954–20 degrees. I took eggs to Litchfield and went to Randy's John Deere place to get Carl. Merle took the tractor to Randy's to have it overhauled. I worked some more on my dress. John Ernst was found dead in a field at home.

Sunday, Jan. 24, 1954–Misting rain when I went to church. I stopped for Bertha Rhoads and Kathy. Had to wait on Merle to bring our paper. We didn't go anywhere. Wayne sent cattle and hogs to market. We heard over radio that Jim Ward got $26.75 for his hogs. 22 cattle $19 (I think that is the price for cwt.), 14 hogs $36.75. 19 of Wayne's steers paid for the 30 when he purchased them.

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 1954–Ice on everything. Not bad. No slick pavement reported around here. McNess people came just after we had breakfast.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 1954–21 degrees. Ice on the trees and wires, but the pavement is clean. I finished filling out the income tax report. Called John White, and he said to come at 11. We were there, but he didn't appear until 12 noon. 

Saturday, Jan. 30, 1954–I got groceries yesterday, so we didn't have to go to town. I sewed a bit on my dress. I wonder if I will ever get it finished. Mary and Bob came after eggs. John Quincy Robinson died at 10:20 p.m. at the Hillsboro Hospital.

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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