Friday, December 26, 2014

Almanacs of Yore

The Bible and an almanac were the two most frequently owned books in many homes. A reading of both was a nightly ritual before going to bed to learn lessons of life and to discover what the next day's weather might bring and how it would affect their activities.
A famous compiler of almanacs was Benjamin Franklin (1709-1790) who wrote under the non de plume of Poor Richard. The pithy quips with which he laced his pages were heavily "borrowed" from other authors of his day to which he gave his own unique interpretation. These observations have remained in our lexicon for over two centuries. The writers of this blog will be sharing his wit and wisdom throughout the calendar year.
The Harris' Farmer's Almanac was inspired by the original Harris' Almanak that was first published in 1692. It is famous for the hole in the upper-left-hand corner, said hole was put there to give the owner a way to hang it near to the door of the buttery to be easy to hand.
The Farmer's Almanac was first published in 1818 and is familiar by name to many individuals who may never have seen an issue. We were surprised to discover that this one was the only almanac carried by Wal Mart in our area. A few years ago there were four or five different ones on the racks by the checkout stands.
The volumes were saved from year to year as they contained not only weather predictions but information of all kinds including recipes, planting instructions, care of farm animals, etc. You name it and somewhere it will be found in an almanac.
The treasured volumes that were saved from the privy and other uses that will be shown here are from an extensive collection of Osburn Roy of Russell Springs, KY. He overheard us talking about writing an almanac at breakfast and loaned his collection to the authors.
Many of these pamphlet style publications were advertising organs from various suppliers for their wares. The Seven Barks almanac shown here was distributed to the public by A.P Simpson of Jamestown, Russell Co., Ky. in 1885. Seven Barks was a tonic or elixir guaranteed to cure whatever ailed you. The little booklet contains short biographical information about the presidents of the United States, sunrises & sunsets, fan mail for Seven Barks, along with jokes. 

National Cemetery, Shelby Co., Tenn., Nov. 11, 1862.
My Dear Sir:--Please forward me as soon as possible six (6) dozen Seven Barks and books. I sell the Seven Barks without any effort on my part. Yours truly, Herman B. Pass, P.M. & Dealer in Drugs and Groceries.

"I'm so glad you have got back safe," said a Newport wife to her husband as she threw her arms about his neck and kissed him.
"Yes, and paid a quarter for a $3,000 accident ticket; and if anything had happened to the train, and I should have gotten bruised or had an arm or leg broken, I would have got all that money, and if I should have been killed you would have got it."
"Ah, what a pity! But that's just our luck."
Seven Barks, p. 11.