Friday, March 30, 2018

My Grandmother & the Progressive Farmer

After my paternal grandmother Rosa Mae Wright died in January 1996, mom and dad cleaned out the house in Gadsden and brought lots of items home to Huntsville, from furniture to stacks of old letters and photographs. In that material was the envelope below. Let's investigate.

The Progressive Farmer was founded as a newspaper in North Carolina in 1886 with the aim of bringing the latest crop and agriculture information to farmers in the Southeast. Various changes ended in the creation of a magazine in 1908 and the establishment of a central office in Birmingham in 1911. 

In 1966 Southern Living magazine was created from the lifestyle section, and various other publications and products and ownership followed over the years. In 2007 The Progressive Farmer was sold to former advertiser DTN and continues publication with headquarters still in Birmingham. 

Many of those changes occurred after my grandmother received the pattern for these "good looking glass towels." The pattern came to her home in Gadsden; I wonder if she actually made the towels. Like many women of her generation she sewed often, so perhaps she did.

I contacted the current Progressive Farmer in hopes of finding more information about this pattern, but was told this sort of magazine history has not survived. We can assume the mailing was done before the U.S. Post Office adopted zip codes in 1963. The 1.5 cent Martha Washington stamp was issued in 1938 and used extensively into the late 1950's. I would thus suppose my grandmother received this pattern before 1960. She kept the pattern and noted "Kitchen Design" on the envelope; i recognize her writing. 

Can we imagine a time when a magazine offered free or very low cost patterns? And when they only cost a penny and a half to mail? I wonder if they were offered to subscribers only or anyone? There is no indication in this material of any charge, and I don't remember ever seeing issues of the magazine at my grandparents' house.

I did run across this site which describes women's clothing patterns once offered by The Progressive Farmer. 

Novelist L.P. Hartley began his work The Go-Between, "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." Isn't that the truth.

Amos J. and Rosa Mae Wright

50th wedding anniversary October 1966; they were married on Halloween 1916

Living room of their home at 1313 Chandler Street, Gadsden

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