The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "FULL MOON, FOXES, SCHOOL DAYS AND RFD"

Greetings to everyone in western Illinois.

I'm a hope'n this column finds ya fit as a fiddle and with an attitude of gratitude and high spirits.

Did any of youn's see the lunar eclipse last week? Those things are sure enterest'n if'n you wants to be up and watch them. Personally I've seen enough of em in my lifetime that I don't have a strong enterest in lose'n any sleep over em.

However, whilst look'n outdoors the other night, enjoy'n the sight of the full moon, I spotted a big ole red fox meander'n betwixt the barn and the house as if'n he owned the place. It was a very pretty sight watch'n him maneuver in the moonlight and snow a look'n for something to eat.

I have seen coyotes work their route in this same area. I'm a wonder'n what would happen if'n they would show up on the same spot, on the same night, at the same time. I reckon they wouldn't get along well and the fox might come up on the short end of the stick or at least have a fast run fer it to escape.

Are ya take'n in any of your children and/or grandchildrens or neighbors children's Christmas programs of late. Life is pretty short at its best and you are miss'n out on some special gems if'n you're a stay'n at home in lieu of the special treat those programs have to offer. Those young'n are at that tender age for only a short while and they really appreciate and notice your support.

It kinda reminds me of my one room school days. We had Christmas programs back then and they was a lot of fun. I can still remember some of the verses I memorized even after all these years.

Speak'n of memorize'n, back in those days, we memorized our multiplication table. One school mate, Jim, was a have'n a difficult time after study'n the tables over and over and backward and forward.

Jim just couldn't remember the correct answer for six times nine and he didn't know what to do. I told him finally not to bother his head on the matter but when he got home and begins play'n with his farm dog, "Ole Blue", call it fifty four a spell and he'll learn it by heart.

So Jim started call'n "Ole Blue" fifty four even though it didn't seem to him a fitt'n name for a good dog. He called his "Ole" fifty four a hundred times or more till he knew the answer of six times nine as well as the answer of two times two.

Dure'n school the next day our teacher called on Elizabeth Wigglesworth, who always acted so proud, the answer of six times nine. She answered fifty-two and Jim laughed aloud.

He later wished he hadn't when the teacher said, "Now, Jim, tell me the answer if you can." Jim instantly thought of his dog for the easy answer and -sakes alive! He answered, "Ole Blue!"

There's a lot of talk of the mail service cutt'n back on deliveries and shudder'n some rural post offices. Country folk look forward to the mailman pull'n up to their mailboxes as much today as they did when the first mail carrier came by, drive'n a team of horses.

Some folk claim the Rural Free Delivery (RFD) was the second most important innovation (after the railroad), link'n farmers with the outside world. With RFD, a farm family could receive mail six days a week, delivered to a mailbox at the end of his driveway. Previously he received mail only when he picked it up at a nearby village post office, often located in a country store.

Farmers, especially those who were active member of the Grange, lobbied for free mail delivery start'n in the late 1800's. A Georgia congressman, Tom Watson, drafted legislation for a permanent rural free delivery in 1893.

Congress approved the proposal, but the then-postmaster general rejected it. Reintroduced, RFD became law in 1896. In that year the first five official rural delivery routes began operate'n in Jefferson County, West Virginia. By 1899 forty states had rural delivery routes.

Once the rural mail carrier started make'n rounds, farmers began subscribe'n to magazines and to daily newspapers. No more was news from the outside world a week or more late. They also began receive'n mail-order catalogs such as Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. Rural folk could order goods from the catalog and have them delivered to their door. Before RFD, catalog orders were delivered to the local railroad depot.

I remember our old mail carrier would arrive at the post office at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday, sort the mail and leave the post office about 9:30 to deliver the mail. He completed his route and was back in the post office between 2:30 and 3:00 each afternoon. You could set your watch by him. He had 430 customers.

Rural mail carriers depended on their cars, some trade'n twice a year after drive'n around 20,000 miles every six months. When much of their roads were dirt and gravel the cars were pretty well shot when traded.

The carriers would keep two spare tires as it was not uncommon to get nails in their tires. Sometimes when changen a tire, the brakes would be so hot you couldn't take the lug nuts off easily.

Winter and spring were the worst times for those early mail carriers. Winter because of snowdrifts and spring because of mud. Some of those early carriers had 100-mile mail routes. That was quite a distance in the early days, for the poor quality roads they had in comparison to todays roads. But, the old motto was, "The mail must always get delivered".

With the change'n of times it looks like rural folk may be lose'n this additional rural service due to economics. With internet, UPS, and Fed Ex. I suppose everyone will get by. We'll just have to figure out some other way to set our clocks!

Best wishes to ya fer the rest of the week.

Keep on Smile'n

Catch ya Later

Barnyard Bruke