Saturday, February 15, 2020

Vintage Kids

It's time for vintage kids! The pictures are old, but the kids are (were) young. You get it!

Photo #1: An undated (but 1950's, I think it's safe to say) snap of three children playing on a mysterious old piece of farm machinery. After a bit of Googlin', it appears that the machine is a mule-drawn mower for cutting hay. I am guessing that these are city kids (or at least suburban kids) for whom life on a farm was mysterious and romantic. My Great Aunt had a farm in Wisconsin, and it was always fun to explore the big barn and silo, the swim in the swimmin' hole (it had an island in the middle of it) or float on an inner tube down the creek that passed through the property.

We once spent the night in the barn, and I couldn't sleep because of the chirping bats flying overhead, and the mysterious thumps and other noises coming from the level below us (where the sheep were kept overnight). But we loved catching frogs and king snakes, and even chores like cutting down volunteer saplings seemed like fun - for a little while.

Photo #2: Some lucky buckaroo poses in his brand-new cowboy getup - maybe a gift from Grandma and Grandpa? He looks a little derpy, as if he's overloaded on cookies and candy canes. Or else he helped himself to some of Dad's eggnog. Behind him a shiny red scooter is on its side, I guess the kid is a little too young for a pony. But pretty soon he can head out to the range and earn his keep!

I hope you have enjoyed these vintage kids.


Nanook said...

I was gonna say those kids in the first image look as if they're from the 1940's - or even earlier. (Extra points for that fabulous babushka-!)

I think the young buckaroo standing by the Xmas tree is merely high on eggnog-!

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, experiencing farm life should be mandatory for all kids. My mom's childhood friend grew up and married someone who owned a farm in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I remember going up there as a little kid - but was only about 4 years old, so my memories are faint. I do remember hanging around the cows, early one morning. I think they were being milked, for our breakfast(?).

My husband's aunt owns a farm that's been in the family for years, in Central Illinois, and we (my husband & I) went there a number of times in our teens (back when we were dating before we got married) and then over the years, as adults, for family reunions and celebrations. They have a huge pond stocked with fish. Kids swim in the pond - jumping off the pier, and the men like to fish. (I remember the cat fish would make an awful crying sound when they were out of the water - ugh!) The kids ride mini-bikes and tractors all around the property. The nights are sooo quiet that it's hard to sleep - all you hear is breathing. But it's a must-do-experience, especially for kids!

"Derpy" - I learned a new word! I'll start using it everyday, now. If that 2nd picture was our house, years ago, the lampshades would all still have their plastic (cellophane?) wrap still on them. And plastic covers on the couches.

Fun picture, Major - thank you! And don't look derpy, today.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Fun pictures I meant.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I can't sleep, so I'm going to ramble on some more . . .

Major, when I mentioned how quiet it is sleeping at the farm, I should've mentioned that we sleep inside the farmhouse; we aren't brave and sleep in the barn - which does sound fun! For me it's so strange not to hear cars, ambulances, police cars and fire trucks driving by at night, and people walking by and talking (or, occasionally, arguing loudly). As I mentioned, all you hear is breathing (and snoring). The best part is waking up to the smell of coffee brewing and home-made coffee cake in the oven . . .

Now, I think I'm going to skip sleeping and put on a pot of freshly-ground coffee, squeeze some fresh orange juice, and start baking a coffee cake. Feel free to stop by for breakfast, everybody's welcome! :)

JC Shannon said...

The first pic reminds me of little Russian kids on the steppes. Little been-in -the-sauce reminds me of when my friends and I all wanted to be cowboys like Roy Rogers...until John Glenn orbited the earth. Then it was silver suits and space helmets all around. It was A OK. Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will get a freeze dried hot dog and a glass of Tang. Yum. Thanks Major.

Chuck said...

My dad was just (re)telling me the other day about how he would spend a week every summer out at a cousin's farm (his parents had like 13 siblings total, and about 8 of them farmed). The cousin's family would build mazes into the haybales when they stacked them in the barn, and they would always build a big room somewhere in the complex. They would spend hours crawling around in the dark, having a blast.

I don't know if they were still using anything as old as that haycutter, but my dad was reminiscing about the first piece of machinery he ever operated, a Farmall-C tractor at that same farm when he was around 12. He popped it into gear with a big jolt, and he nearly dumped his cousin in a pile of manure. They also had a larger Farmall-M, but he wasn't allowed to drive that.

The Christmas picture reminds me of my oldest when he was almost 3; my wife's brother and his wife gave my then-cowboy-mad boy a cowboy suit that included a similar set of chaps. And then, like Andy and J.C., he flipped for Buzz Lightyear (although he's always had a soft spot for Woody).

Thanks again, Major!

Melissa said...


The boy jn the red hat looks a bit more farmy than the others; maybe he's the host.

zach said...

From the comments it looks like we all had a friend or relative with a farm. For me it was my Uncle (Dad's brother) who still farmed the original Zacher farm (My G-Grandfather arrived in the 1880's) in South Dakota. It had grown to 3000 acres, mostly grazing, Sunflowers and some wheat.

I spent a couple of weeks when I was 15 and they put me to work. I plowed fields on a John Deere tractor, following my Uncle over acres of land, into the evening on some days. Once I dipped into a gully and snapped the hydraulics. A long drive to the barn to find the part (that's why they don't throw anything away) and back to work. I love/hated it at the time. From today's perspective I loved it.

Thanks for rekindling the memories. Dad, Uncle and the farm are all gone now but the memories are crystal clear.


K. Martinez said...

I thought the same thing as Shannon about the first pic being Russian children. It's a beautiful photo. In fact it comes off as quite cinematic to me.

I'm a firm believer that one should visit a farm to see what goes on with the animals and future food we eat. I even think visiting a slaughter house is something young people should do. We as a society are so removed from what it takes to get our meat and that killing animals is part of the process.

I've seen pigs slaughtered and gutted, rabbits, chickens and birds killed for food. My dad used to slaughter rabbits and chickens for my grandmother as she had a small suburban/rural farm. I watched the whole thing. It's a reality that is hidden to most people in our sanitized world. And even though I've witnessed the full reality of how we get our meat, I still eat meat. I guess to me, maybe people would not waste so much food if they saw what it takes and to realize an animal's life was taken so we could eat and survive.

Anyway, that's the farm reality I experienced and I'm glad I did. It has made me grateful to have food on the table and to not be so careless and wasteful. Thanks for the pics today, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I might have guessed “1940’s” as well, except that the Kodachrome mount that they are in dates to the early 50’s (according to my research, anyway).

Lou and Sue, I do value my time on my Aunt’s farm, and my dad’s family had farmers too, so we spent a number of summers seeing what farm life was like, if only for a few days at a time. I sure miss the days when we’d go to the Midwest all the time. Now I hardly ever go. My aunt raised sheep with colored wool (in other words, anything but white), but she didn’t have a huge flock. She rented out most of her land to neighboring farmers. “Derpy” is a good word, sort of “silly/dumb”.

Lou and Sue, we only tried to spend the night in the barn once, otherwise they had a “bunk house” with bunk beds (3-high) because there were so many boys in the families that gathered there. Once in a rare while it would get cold at night, but usually in the summer it was warm enough to not be a problem. I always wanted to drive the tractor, but was judged to be too little. Maybe my feet wouldn’t have reached the pedals, I have no idea. Oconomowoc (Wisconsin) used to be all farms, but it has been the target of developers for decades now, I feel like they’ve ruined the cute little town it used to be.

Jonathan, ha ha, you are right - there is a Viewmaster reel from the 1950’s with scenes from Russia, that photo would fit right in. Cowboys are great and all, but how can they compete with real astronauts?? “Freeze dried hot dog”, yuck!

Chuck, my dad had lots of stories of working on his uncle’s farm, getting up in the dark, baling hay, eating a gigantic “dinner” (which was the afternoon meal) of steak and biscuits with butter and all kinds of good things, but everyone in the family was thin because they worked so hard. My dad also had to go to school of course, so he had to fit homework in there somewhere too. I know that I had some cowboy gear when I was a little kid (the red felt hat with the white stitching, just like Jesse the Cowgirl), but we switched to Batman, or monsters, even though I loved NASA and the space program.

Melissa, somehow I imagine that it was a very windy day when photo #1 was taken!

dzacher, 3000 acres! Now that’s a farm. My aunt’s farm seemed big to me, but I’m sure in the scheme of things it was not. But we loved it - after she died her kids sold the place, which is such a shame. They tore down her beautiful old house, the barn, the silo, the bunk house, and everything else, and some rich person built a big ugly home. One of my memories of the pond at my aunt’s farm was that somebody said there were snapping turtles in it, and after that I didn’t want to swim anymore. I have no idea if it was even true!

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, oops, sorry! Your story about visiting a slaughter house brought back vivid memories. Not of farming though; my grandpa worked at the Hormel factory in Austin, Minnesota. We got a tour. I will never forget it! It was pretty graphic and smelly and messy. To this day I wonder if they thought much as you said, “These kids should know where their food comes from”, or if they just took us and didn’t think much about it? I was really surprised when my young nephew went up to Oregon to visit his paternal grandparents, and his Uncle took him deer hunting. I guess he was a real trouper, and didn’t get upset when they field-dressed the deer. I agree with you about trying to waste less food. BUT… as I get older, I also feel like I’d like to reduce my meat consumption. Not stop eating meat, just try to get more veggies and healthy stuff. We’ll see if I can actually commit to it though!

K. Martinez said...


I believe that as a nation, we do consume too much meat. Eating more fruit and vegetables is definitely key to a healthier lifestyle. I also, think we eat too much starch. Saying that, I don't have issues with eating meat, but have issues with needless waste. And I actually eat way more vegetables than meat or anything else.

What I was mainly driving at was understanding where our food comes from and learning to appreciate what it takes. Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox.

Melissa said...

I grew up in farm country and worked in agricultural education for a decade - my one trip to Disneyland was during a conference sponsored by our sister ag ed program in California. So I'm loving all the childhood farm stories!

Steve DeGaetano said...

No tinsel on the Christmas tree?


"Lou and Sue" said...

My aunt raised sheep with colored wool

Major, when I read that line, I instantly picture big wooly sheep with tartan plaid patterns on them.

Sunday Night said...

Really enjoying all the farm stories. I was a city kid that never visited a farm (other than Knott's Berry Farm!) I remember going to Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores in the 60s and seeing the pictures of the dairies that they used to display on the back wall. Cows and silos. I always liked the serene feeling they gave me but it wasn't until many years later that I actually drove through part of Wisconsin and saw actual farm life.

"Lou and Sue" said...

One of my memories of the pond at my aunt’s farm was that somebody said there were snapping turtles in it, and after that I didn’t want to swim anymore. I have no idea if it was even true!

Major, trust me, there are snapping turtles in Wisconsin - and Illinois - as I've seen one myself. We have different types of turtles that snap, and I rescued one a few years back that was in the middle of the road by my bank. It was over a foot long and was heading towards a busy intersection, so I stopped and grabbed a box out of my trunk, scooped him up and relocated him to a creek near my house. He was doing his best to bite me - lightning fast and chomping away. I knew to be careful because they usually sit real still and try to surprise and bite you. Their necks really are long and can reach back, pretty far. I didn't get my hands anywhere near him.

The largest turtle I've seen in Illinois, walking on the sidewalk at a train depot, was about one foot high and two feet long. He was headed to a pond that was next to the depot. I wouldn't want to step on him in a murky pond. Ouch!

"Lou and Sue" said...

A good YouTube video of snapping turtles:

Anonymous said...

I grew up on a farm, but California farms are not as cool as those back east. No big barn, no silo, etc. no pond, just fields and orchards.

Dad had sold all the livestock years before I was born, all we had were dogs and cats.

We lived near a river, so I spent a lot of time on the banks doing kid stuff. But the water wasn't year around, and some years, none at all. Too shallow to swim.

Drove the tractor, worked outside etc. Hated it then, nostalgic now, but would not want to return to it. I like living in town where the garbage is taken away by others, not by me, the water and sewer always work, and the rain goes down the storm drain instead of ponding in the driveway. Farm work is horrible when you have hay fever, which I did. Summers cutting hay and weeds were misery for me. I was glad to go to school and learn a trade where I could work indoors.

Dad had a hay cutter much like the one in the picture, he farmed with horses until after WWII, when he could afford a small tractor, then another bigger one, and another still bigger one. As noted above, nothing is ever thrown away on a farm, so ours sat in the corner of the yard, rusting in place.

I miss it all so much and would never return if I could.

Fun pics, Major. Thank you.