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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • JOSHUA'S COLUMN — Signs of spring, 1888-style

  • An antique issue of the Gazette shows how you would have known it was spring if you 125 years ago....
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  • Mayor Gary Revier sent me the following note along with a clipping from an antique newspaper:
    “Here is an article I found in an early March 1888 Redwood Gazette listing the signs of spring at the end of that very difficult winter of 1887-88.  
    Trains were still stranded in the snow and bodies were being found after the January blizzard.  It truly was a trying time for the pioneers of our area.  
    “We complain about our weather this spring but it was much worse a hundred plus years ago.”
    And here is the 1888 list of signs of spring. It was originally written for March, but in 2013 it seems appropriate for mid-April, too. I like how the list gets more elaborate as the writer went on, as if he had to fill the space somehow:
    • Wild geese have been seen.
    • Squirrels are getting frisky.
    • Farmers are buying their seed wheat.
    • The coal bins are down to the last ton.
    • There is more daylight than there used to be.
    • Implement dealers are setting up their seeders.
    • Seed catalogues are as thick as leaves in autumn.
    • The ice has commenced to break up in the Redwood.
    • Money loaners are doing a brisk trade in small loans.
    • Merchants are knocking down prices on winter goods.
    • The housewife is fetching out that everlasting rag carpet.
    • Tree peddlers are opening up their books of gorgeous colors.
    • The sons of rest are leaving the stoves and basking in the sunshine.
    • The real estate men are setting up the pics for a big spring’s business.
    • Township statesmen are fixing up slates for the approaching town meetings.
    • Old winter is sprucing up for a flirtation with the coy and vixenish Miss Spring.
    • The hens are responding to the sun-shiny weather, and the small boy hideth Easter hen fruit.
    • The impecunious citizen speculateth on the problem of whether his arctics will hold out another month or not.
    . . . . .
    Several weeks ago the Redwood Falls Rotary Club donated dictionaries to the town’s  third graders.
    I got a photo of one boy who got my attention as he was handed his new paperback. The first thing he did — even before looking up any words — was flip open the pages, bury his nose in the book, and take a deep whiff of that new book smell.
    Now there’s a true book lover. New car lovers must experience the same thing the first time they sit in their new vehicle.
    Page 2 of 2 - Whenever the Friends of the Library hold one of their used-book sale fundraisers I have to stop by and browse the books.
    Last week it occurred to me to think about how much is going to be lost when everyone reads everything on Kindles, iPads, and Nooks.
    They’re wonderful devices in many ways, but they just don’t smell right.

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