A friend who lives in an old farmhouse was doing some cleaning recently when he ran across old newspapers which he then gave to me. I have plumbed the depths of the yellowed, century-old newsprint and acquired some fresh insights regarding the good old days.   
    For instance, one newspaper squib crows about the efficiency of the local high school: “Home economics and agricultural classes have learned to co-operate,” it said. “The boys recently killed and dressed a hog for a local farmer, and the girls studied the cuts of meat in a practical way.”     
    Wonder how that sort of school-sponsored activity would go over in today’s hypersensitive culture? The hog wouldn’t be the only one to be drawn and quartered.     
    Another article decried the moral decline of 1920s-era juveniles.
    “Just look at any large newsstand and see the dozens of indecent magazines with their brazen, glaring sex appeal,” fumed the writer. “Whenever you see a schoolgirl frequenting the streets, or vacant lots, or the movies late in the evening, without proper supervision, you may be sure that some mother, or father, is careless or negligent.”
    The writer connected the rise of such scandalous behavior directly to the decline of the parental application of “the buggy whip or the hard-bottomed slipper.”     
    There are some things that haven’t changed over the past century. One newsman, pontificating about the upcoming 1924 race for president, wrote, “There is a vast amount of make-believe in an election. ... We shall have, this time, more startling charges of corruption and more attempts to muddy names than any presidential contest has had.”     
    As Yogi Berra would say, it feels like déjà vu all over again.     
    I also stumbled across a paragraph which said that a man referred to only as La Follette hopes to be our first Progressive president. Ironically, the opposite page has an ad for the movie “Pollyanna” starring Mary Pickford.     
    A story titled “Good News For Taxpayers” states that President Coolidge foresaw further tax cuts if the federal government could cap its total expenditures at $3 billion. Wow. Nowadays, $3 billion is approximately what Bezos and Branson spent for their seven-minute suborbital rocket rides.     
    Another “spare the rod, spoil the child” story reads, “When Misses Ruth Potter and Molly Luster walked into the Pikeville, Kentucky, police court wearing knickers, Judge Marrs promptly sent them to jail for 10 hours each for contempt of court.”    
    First of all, what, exactly, are knickers? And second, what would happen if the New York Knickerbockers showed up in that particular court? Would the entire team be held in contempt?     
    The editor of a newspaper called Farmer And Breeder noted that at Steen, Minnesota, a team of 2-year-old sorrel grade colts had recently sold for the lofty price of $310. “It doesn’t look as though the tractor was chasing the horse off the farm,” concluded the editor with obvious satisfaction.     
    An article titled “Silos For The Stock Farm” remarked that silos seem to be increasing in popularity, but that “unless one is keeping at least 10 cows, the cost of the silo is usually not justified.” It further states that the expenses associated with producing corn silage – the value of the corn, the cost of hiring of a cutter, extra labor, the whole shebang – could add up to a whopping $2.75 per ton.  
    If you think that is a bargain, in that same publication, the Hotel Lorraine of Chicago placed an ad that trumpeted “250 outside rooms, with shower or tub, $2.50 and up. For reservations, write or wire.” Cool, book me now.     
    The old advertisements are actually my favorite part. I was chuckling over a vintage ad when my wife asked, “What’s so funny?”     
    “Listen to this ad copy,” I replied, stifling a giggle. “‘It will give their systems a spring house-cleaning – loosens up the bowels, tones up the liver and kidneys, enriches the blood, drives out the worms. Will help them shed their winter coat.’ Isn’t that a hoot?”
    “Not really. Where can I get some of that stuff?”     
     “But this ad is for something called Dr. Hess Horse Tonic. We don’t even own a horse.”     
    “Who’s talking about using it on a horse?” she asked, looking right at me. “You know that old saying: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You look a bit wormy, and I’ve noticed that your hair isn’t nearly as shiny as it used to be.”     
    Humph. I hope she gets lost on her way to the Debenham & Freebody Millinery.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.