GRANDMA'S DIARIES • November 1954: Selling Off Chickens


In November 1954, Grandma and Grandpa are selling a lot of the chickens and butchering the last hog. Some readers may be unfamiliar by their saving the hog's head along with the roasts, chops, ribs, etc. I still remember my sadness at seeing the hog's head sitting on the kitchen table. But as my dad always said, "Susie, you can use every part of a hog but the squeal." I think my reaction was colored by my naming nearly all the animals on the farm. If memory serves me right, I think I had dubbed this one St. John, the Baptist. Dad also told me not to name any animal I planned to eat. Good advice! On the more positive side it is time for the annual Oyster Supper at the Butler School sponsored by the Helping Hand ladies, and Grandma and the other ladies spent a lot of time on this, their biggest money maker of the year for the church.

Monday, Nov. 1, 1954–Too rainy to wash. Geraldine came, and we dressed 11 roosters, six for her, $1 each, five for me, one to eat, and I put four in the locker. Geraldine got a cold out of it. Wayne brought a piece of machinery of Tom Dammann's down. He called Tom and found that Margie's sister's boy had drowned in the Mississippi River while duck hunting. Merle's man brought us five ton and 900 pound coal. Our pile was getting low.

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1954–I went to Hillsboro. Had the anti-freeze tested in the car. I took my dressed chickens to the locker. Carl doesn't feel good, but in p.m. we went to vote. I voted all Republican except for Charles Newport, Judge Ginos and Superintendent Ewalt. They were elected.

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1954–I washed such a washing. Mrs. Keith came while John went to the ATA meeting. She tatted while I embroidered blocks for a child's quilt.

Thursday, Nov. 4, 1954–Cold. We got to James Ward's sale before 11 a.m., but all the household goods were sold. About the largest crowd we ever saw at a sale. Later James' hired hand said the sale amounted to $22,000.

Friday, Nov. 5, 1954–Cold. Mary Nimmons and I took rags for rugs to Ethel Newport. We are donating them to the sale at the annual oyster supper. We stopped at the church to quilt. Ray Raines built a fire for us. Mary gave me yellow print to set the child's quilt together.

Sunday, Nov. 7, 1954–We called Fern Best and told her we were coming. We met Wayne’s in Raymond. They were on their way to Moray's to a family dinner. George took us into northern Christian County. We saw the newly developed oil field.

Monday, Nov. 8, 1954–Clear, mild. Charles Hermsmier came and culled our hens. He culled out 58 and left us 54 and very few of those good layers. Most of the culls had poor eyes.

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1954–Clear, mild. This is Home Bureau at the Community House. I really didn't have time to go. I finally got the embroidered child's quilt completed (the top). I washed. Ordered articles for the grab bag for the oyster supper.

Friday, Nov. 12, 1954–Clear and mild. I went to our regular Helping Hand meeting. Thank offerings were brought. Nine of them which gave us $20.84. Mrs. Jenkins helped me count the money. We quilted on the child's quilt, but didn't get done. We did want to have it ready to sell at the bazaar. Carl is cleaning out the garage. Everything has been dumped in there.

Saturday, Nov. 13, 1954–Carl still cleaning on the garage. I went to Butler for groceries. Took the trinkets for the grab bag to Marie Henry. Just got them today. I was allowed $3, so I paid the postage, .35 more.

Sunday, Nov. 14, 1954–Grand weather! I went to church and Sunday School. Mrs. McCammon announced that the Go Getters class is sending a basket of fruit to Rudolph Wooden who is bed-fast and threatened with TB. They have two babies and another coming. I called on Mrs. Cleve Robinson a few minutes.

Monday, Nov. 15, 1954–So nice. I washed. Margie and Connie ate dinner with us then we butchered seven young fries and then two hens for the Thanksgiving dinner to be at Merle's. Mamie Ware sent me a donation of $5 for Helping Hand. I advertised the cull hens in the Montgomery News. The proprietor of the Schram City skating rink came after 14 at $1 each and said he would come after the rest next Saturday morning. Heavy hens are 10 cents per pound on the market, cheapest price for years. Eggs are about .30. We only get five or six per day.

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1954–An ideal day. I baked a raisin cream pie and took it , a quart of cream and Mary Nimmons and her pie and we went to Charlie Newport's sale of hogs and cattle. Carl disked for a while after we got home.

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 1954–Looked rainy, but cleared. Carl wanted to go to Ted Johnson's sale. I had to take the child's quilt to Ida Brown for her to sew the binding on the back of the quilt, then we went to the sale. Carl sent our last hog to the locker.

Thursday, Nov. 18, 1954–Began raining after dark. I've so many things to do. I baked and iced an angel food cake. I took Mary and went to the school house at four. Ida Brown and I made ham sandwiches. Mary was to cut cakes. She said we had several cakes donated from outsiders. I donated a rug, coffee cream, cake, doily.

Friday, Nov. 19, 1954–Cooler. We went after the hog head and liver. Got the head cleaned and cut up and in salt water. Walter Kates got two roosters and a hen, $1 for each.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 1954–Cold and raw. I went to Hillsboro for groceries. Paid Montgomery News for the ad about our hens we had for sale, 40 cents. Skating rink proprietor came after the remainder of the hens, 27 at $1 each. Esther Norvelle and Larry came after a rooster for herself and two for her mother. All at $1 each. So many phone calls for hens.

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1954–I ironed before Carl got up. I went right to sewing for I wanted to finish a print dress for Connie. I borrowed one of her dresses for a pattern before Thanksgiving. I sewed on buttons after supper. Bob Hayes from St. Augustine, Florida, visited with us through the noon hour.

Thursday, Nov. 25, 1954–I took cream, noodles, had sent a hen and Margaret baked it with hers. Tobermans, Leland Bondurants, Ted Solanders and daughters, Merle’s and us. Such a bountiful dinner. Three chickens and a duck for the meat. Corky is getting stiff.

Friday, Nov. 26, 1954–We went to Litchfield. I needed the screws tightened in my glasses. We went to Dr. Strattmier's and got two kinds of medicine for Corky. He is getting stiff in his hind legs. Doctor says give him mineral oil for constipation. Wayne ran a straw under his finger nail, very sore.

Monday, Nov. 29, 1954–Cold, clear. I didn't wash but took a comforter apart. The outside is worn out. I recombed the wool in it, so I can make Jimmie a comforter. Corky walked quite a distance this afternoon. His mineral oil worked.

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1954–Clear, chilly. Hantla's sale west of Raymond. Carl didn't want to go. Corky seems much better.

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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