Monday, 16 August 2010 14:41

75 Years Ago Late Summer/Early Autumn 1932

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From the general news sources of the time and the Breeder's Gazettes of that period.)

In spite of the intense heat of July, there was a substantial rally in prices for hogs, cattle, butter, eggs, hides, wool, mutton, etc. … all the things that made up farms in 1932. It was the livestock that brought balance to farming and made it worthwhile, interesting, and (at best) profitable. But farmers were savvy to markets. They knew that markets went both up and down and that surge of Summer 1932 was too late, too shallow and too brief to make a whole lot of difference by and of itself. It was more of a blip than a trend.

There were big dust storms too–lots of them. I can recall grade school being dismissed early because of visibility problems for the bus drivers. My understanding was that a lot of the dust was coming our way from a place called Kansas. I suppose Wes Jackson of the Land Institute would know. I must ask him "why they did that" sometime. It wasn't very neighborly. As for the Gazette, it just kept hammering away at culling the low producing dairy cows and doing likewise for the slow gainers and those who gave birth to them in the feedlot breeds. For the Gazette staff it had to be a little like being a cheerleader for a university team that hadn't won a game for years. After a dozen or so whippings it becomes hard to jump very high.

That is the very situation that the University of Chicago was confronted with in the late '30s. So they just knocked football in the head and went on. That is a lot easier for a university to do than a farmer with a few years on him, a mortgage, a wife and a passel of kids. And a lot of them loved what they were doing … everything except the wages which had just plain disappeared. Those were cruel times.

So cruel that for the first time in our history, emigration exceeded immigration by roughly 3 to 1. That is a very telling statistic. Our reputation as the Land of Opportunity seemed to be damaged at least temporarily. So, where did they go? A few headed to Canada or Australia, but the majority returned to the lands of their birth. There were eleven million jobless people in the U.S. and we had a considerably smaller population at that time.

Grim as those times were, there were millions who kept the faith while everything around them seemed to be running aground. For instance, on August 14, 1932, a crowd of almost 100,000 people turned out for the finale of the 1932 Olympics. Record crowds, record performances and (are you ready for this?) record receipts. That was what marked the 1932 World Olympics in Los Angeles, California. It was amazing.

And just a scant six weeks after the closing of the Olympics, the New York Yankees crushed the Chicago Cubs in a four day shut-out of the World Series. That was the third time that Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth had combined their talents to be a part of a four game World Series sweep. What an inspiration for middle-aged men!

No, games and sports are not frivolous–any more than lungs. I want to salute a different group of athletes who also did and do their share in helping maintain the sanity of the country. They do it by fitting and showing their animals. I'd be brash enough to say the skillful "showing" helped a few talented show jockeys through the rough patches in their lives. Some are old and some are young, some are tall and some are short, some bald, some spavined and some are ladies. They are the artists and artisans of the livestock business. The athletes of the tanbark who make the livestock shows at our great state fairs such wonderful events. I suspect that "show season" kept a few guys from going nuts at the depth of the depression of the '30s. You can think what you like about "showing" … I'm not going to try to prove anything. But I know that some of the finest relationships in the life of my family were born on the tanbark. I'm even going to run this old 1932 advert for the Illinois State Fair in here just as a reminder of "Good Times at Great Shows." That 1932 Illinois entrance looks just like it does today.

Here we are, almost to the end of 75 Years Ago and not a word about Europe. That's okay, we'll catch it next time. But I do think if Adolf Hitler would have had a good pulling team that would have kept him busy at pulling contests and if Benito Mussolini would have had some really good Brown Swiss cows to campaign at the Italian Dairy Show (there MUST BE one) that this world might have been saved a whole lot of grief. See you in "75" next time with a more conventional column featuring mostly elections.

What do you think of that 75-year-old photograph that highlighted the Illinois State Fair ad for their 1932 show? I'd say, "Give the grounds crew some credit for excellent maintenance for the last 75 years" … it looks just exactly the same today. That sign has welcomed, I would say, most of the people who are seriously involved in the breeding, using and showing of Clydesdale horses in North America. The Illinois State Fairgrounds has proven to be a wonderful home to them for their annual meeting and national sale. We intend to go back to that event and place as long as we can. MT & JT
You know what I like best about wind power? You can't mine it, or drill for it, or grow it and it is even hard to steal. It is the ultimate in a truly democratic source of energy.
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