GRANDMA'S DIARIES • April 1952–New Sewing Machine, Tractor


April 1952 begins with leftover winter weather, but by the end of the month, Grandma is sowing garden seed. Big happenings during the month include the purchase of a new sewing machine for Grandma and a new tractor for Grandpa. That John Deere tractor is still in the family, all restored and shiny sitting proudly in my son's machine shed. I think it is a 1949 model. A mysterious hog disease sweeps through Uncle Wayne's pigs that requires a serious response. Grandpa's hearing has gotten worse, so he begins to consider buying a hearing aid. As I recall he was never satisfied with it for the rest of his life. Saturday night wrestling on television is so popular. Perhaps these professional wrestlers were the first popular television hero and villain personalities. I am amazed that even seven years after the end of WW II the biggest villain is the Great Togo, a Japanese wrestler. 

Tuesday, April 1, 1952–Clear. Thundered and rained last night. I went to Mrs. Keith's for a sack of quilt scraps that Ada Belle (Keith) gave me. Carl had a second treatment from Dr. Krause at ten. Charlie Campbell was here all day working on a hedge. Gave John Keith $5 for Red Cross.

Wednesday, April 2, 1952–Partly cloudy. Chilly. Campbell couldn't come. Carl burned some hedge brush, got the car stuck, so we had to take the tractor and pull it out. I went to Hillsboro and got an "ad" ready for our lunch at Fish's sale. I ironed some after supper.

Friday, April 4, 1952–Rained all day and about all the night before. It was Carl's day to go to Dr. Duncan. Wayne took us as he wanted to consult a state veterinarian. He still loses pigs. They have a disease that the vets have no cure for. I got wax fruit for my bowl Wayne's gave me for Christmas, and Dorothy Ward gave me the money to buy it. She thought she owed it to me for preparing and seeing that a quilt of hers got quilted. She gave me three dollars. I bound her quilt and turned in one dollar of it to the Helping Hand which I did not tell Dorothy. So windy in Springfield.

Saturday, April 5, 1952–Ice. Few flakes of snow. So chilly. Carl took another treatment. After dinner I went to a very small sale of household goods by the side of Elmer Henry's store. I didn't stay long and went to Hillsboro to take a notice to the Journal office advertising the lunch for next Saturday at Fish's sale. Later Carl and I went to the John Deere place at Morrisonville. He thinks he wants a tractor with a starter and lights on it. I went with Wayne's at 6:30 to Litchfield to see "Pa and Ma Kettle Go to the Fair." Carl didn't want to go. He drove over to Wayne's at 8:30, and we all watched the wrestling matches. The Great Togo was a wicked one.

Sunday, April 6, 1952–Clear, but chilly. We went to church and Sunday school. Palm Sunday and the Rev. Johnson, Hillsboro Methodist minister, took seven into the church: Paul Berry, Henry Lawson, two Allen Smith's children, Carole Sue, and Mary and Jeanie Hamilton into the Presbyterian church.

Tuesday, April 8, 1952–Carl took a treatment from Dr. Krause. We came back to Butler and voted in the primary. Ate dinner with the Methodist ladies. Merle and Carl went to Morrisonville on a tractor deal. Margaret and Connie stayed with me. The Sonotone man fitted Carl with a hearing aid. It cost about $200. He didn't buy. Wayne and Hobbie (Turner) vaccinated their pigs and took the sows away. He thinks maybe they have found a remedy for the "Neco." Larry's 4-H sheep had a lamb. The ponies got the end gate out of a load of corn and ate a lot. Dr. Hayworth said if they were stiff this morning to wrap their legs in cloths soaked in warm water. They don't seem to be stiff on Wednesday morning. 

Wednesday, April 9, 1952–Clear and warm. Carl took the car to McDavid's to get the radiator cleaned. Charles Campbell went after him. I cleaned off and burned the trash on the garden. Geraldine took me to Hillsboro to get the car. Mary Ann Ward fell unconscious at school. Her folks took her to a child specialist in Springfield. She had to stay there.

Saturday, April 12, 1952–Raining. At it at 3 a.m. We served hot chicken sandwiches, wieners, pie, coffee, baked beans, potato salad. Mr. McCammon was cashier. He took in $77. We had lots of help. I cut the pies. Mrs. McCammon sold the chicken sandwiches, Mary Nimmons, the wieners. Eliza Turner washed dishes and so on. After supper Carl and I went to Merle's to the wrestling matches. The Great Togo was in. I don't like to watch him. He is Japanese and he is mean.

Sunday, April 13, 1952–Still raining. Went to Sunday school and church. There were 108 at Sunday school. Went to Merle's for dinner. Lovely dinner. Carole went to the doctor. She has a bad stye on her right eye.

Monday, April 14, 1952–Today is the birthday of Ida May Unger, Wilbur Foster and Wayne and Geraldine's 12th wedding anniversary. Still raining. Floods in Pierre, SD, and Minnesota are very bad.

Tuesday, April 15, 1952–Heavy frost, sunshine. I washed. The wind is very chilly. Carl drove the John Deere to Butler where Merle loaded it in his truck and took it to Randy's in Litchfield to be overhauled. We went to W. Shears east of Irving to look at a bunch of shoats, $92. He wouldn't sell part of them.

Wednesday, April 16, 1952–Frost. Sunshine. Merle took the John Deere tractor to Randy's in Litchfield to either be repaired or traded in on a later model. Roy Kessinger brought ten shoats which Carl bought for $140.

Friday, April 18, 1952–Part cloudy and warmer. I went to the church at nine, and Florence Robinson and I put my quilt (the Mrs. Pyatt one) in the frames. We worked on Mrs. Robinson's basket quilt until after noon. More ladies came, so Mildred Taylor and I set patterns on mine. I took Mrs. Mabel Cooper a setting of eggs. I planted snap dragon, petunias, lettuce and tomato seed in the rose garden. Carl paid John Keith $90 for seed wheat he got last fall.

Saturday, April 19, 1952–Nice day. We went to Hillsboro before noon. Carl wanted to talk to Whitlock about the width of our road–required width. Carl went to Wayne's after dinner to a plowing demonstration. Howard Turner, who sells Case tractors, had a new gang plow to show that has no wheels. It is attached to the tractor. Randy's man brought the John Deere that Carl traded his tractor for. We searched for some time before we found the starter. Tractor Serial No. 114154. Carl and Wayne castrated the ten shoats he bought on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 20, 1952–Beautiful day. We went to church and Sunday school. Jimmy went to church with us. He didn't get done playing, so he said he would come back again next Saturday.

Monday, April 21, 1952–Sprinkling. Was undecided as to what the weather would be but decided to go to Litchfield with Carl. He took another treatment and then bought a Zenith hearing aid from Dr. Henderson. It was $75, but he got a different earpiece and that was $10 more.

Tuesday, April 22, 1952–Raining yet. Mary Nimmons and I went to Springfield on the bus, $1.21 one way. Didn't rain after we got up there about 12:30. I bought a Raico portable sewing machine at the Bruce Co. They delivered it to the bus depot, and the driver let us off at Nimmons, $71. Carl had a flat hind tire on the tractor. Randy's man came after it. They fixed it.

Wednesday, April 23, 1952–Rainy yet. Chilly. My machine isn't satisfactory. It binds and then locks. The length of the stitch is not good, and the foot doesn't set straight. I have tried everything I can think of. I finished mowing the yard. Carl cleaned out after the cows. Merle's were here about six a short time. Carl and I took Henry Eckhoff, and we went to an officers' meeting. We decided to hire Rev. Johnson for another year. An agreement with the Methodists last April said we are to pay $300 each church for the minister's salary beginning June 1, 1952. Ida Brown, Floyd Karrick, Mildred Taylor, Henry Eckhoff, George and May Stein, Minnie G. and Carl and I present.

Thursday, April 24, 1952–Still cloudy and chilly. Merle, Margaret, Luella and I went to Springfield after noon. Margaret got a new lens for her glasses. Luella had shopping to do for Mary Lou. Merle went with me when I took my Raico sewing machine back. It took the lady who sold it and a mechanic to put it into running order. They gave me a 20-year guarantee on it. 

Saturday, April 26, 1952–Sunshine. We left at eight for Litchfield. Stopped at Merle's to leave eggs and see how Connie was. She is better. Henderson adjusted the new earpiece on Carl's Zenith hearing aid. We drove to Henry Boder's for information on oil for the tractor. He was the former owner. Wayne is using Carl's tractor, so Carl went to see it work.

Sunday, April 27, 1952–We went to a Union meeting at M.E. church at 9:30 a.m. Max Fronknect and A.P. Berry only Methodists attended and they couldn't agree. Max wanted to cut Rev. Johnson's salary. A.P. didn't want to. Motion tabled until they could have a meeting of their finance committee, which they say they can't get them together.

Tuesday, April 29, 1952–Very nice day. I took the living room stove down and moved furniture so I could open the front door. Mrs. Robinson and I put away the two quilts and cleaned up the church for the Presbyterial meeting to be held tonight, 14 present. Rev. Koen will moderate. We voted to pay $115 in a period of 30 months to the building fund of the U.S. Presbyterian church fund. Following the rotary system of electing officers, three elders were elected… Carl Best, one year; Edith Best for two years; and George Stein for three years. Church treasurer, Ida Brown elected for one year. Elders cannot serve but six years, then must be off for at least one year. Floyd Karrack elected as representative from our church to Larger Parish. Youth advisor, May Stein.

Wednesday, April 30, 1952–Today is the birthday of Carl Best and Elmer Barry. Carl and I went to Litchfield where he took one of his treatments. I bought a pint of fresh strawberries and the cakes that go with them. I gave him a work shirt.

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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