Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumn Vintage Photos

 Yesterday my husband and I spent the day in Madison with friends who have come to be known as the Badger Buddies - Two other couples we met when we first married, living in adjacent local apartments.  We started dressing in red and white and attending one UW Badger football game a year together, and have managed an unbroken string since 1976, except that the past two years we sat in bars and watched the game in warmth and relative comfort.  Part of the problem is just finding six tickets together when none of us is a season ticket holder. I remember some very cold and sometimes rainy Saturdays, often sitting in the raucous student section, or in obstructed view seats, where huddling in the stadium bathroom was the one of the best parts of the day, at least for me.  Still the UW band music, the friendship, the brats and beer, all are great fun.  College football, an autumn tradition.

Since I seem to not be getting a whole lot of artwork done this week (I'm blaming it on sniffles and a cough caught on the plane ride home from our cruise), I thought I'd share some autumnal vintage photos from my family archive.

Hunting is a fall tradition in Wisconsin, though I read in the newspapers that fewer and fewer young people are taking it up.  My grandfather, George Earl Pierce, was an avid hunter as a young man.  That's him, standing on the far left.  I know he collected bird eggs as well, because the framed collection was in his cellar for years when I was a child, and is now safe in the Walworth County historical museum in Elkhorn, part of a collection of taxidermy preserved birds from local hunter Howard Cook.  Anyway, I think these men look handsome with their vest, guns and decoys. I'm guessing the studio portrait was taken about 1910.

My dad, Ralph Pierce, also hunted, though he seemed to prefer the fall deer hunt.  Every November he and his buddies would take a road trip to the Rhinelander area for a week of hunting.  He brought home a few trophies, though certainly not every year.  I'm not sure he hunted very seriously.  He mostly liked taking a few days off to spend time with his high school friends, be outside, drink some beer, and play some cards.  I took this photo about 1960.

Fall on the farm and harvest go together.  To tell the truth, I'm not sure who the man is in this photo, though the picture belonged to Grandpa Pierce.  From the iron wheels I'm guessing this photo is from the 1920s or early 1930s, and that the man was a neighbor who was part of a crew who came in to work.  This wouldn't be a corn harvester; I'm guessing it had something to do with oats.  Even in the 1950s when I was a girl individual farmers did not own all their own equipment.  Neighbors went in together, sharing equipment, working in crews to harvest crops.  I especially remember summer haying crews, and my mother making huge noon meals to feed the hungry and thirsty crews of farmers working in our fields.

My grandfather raised and sold hybrid seed corn for a local family.  Here we see him and Sicy Simons, owner of Simons Seed, standing outside with harvested corn, stored in bins made from snow fencing. We also grew field corn that was chopped and blown into the silo for winter feed for cattle, and some was dried and ground into feed. The photo is probably from the 1930s.

This last photo is of me, taken about 1954.  It might be the last time I smiled raking leaves.  Actually, we didn't rake much on the farm.  I imagine that Mother probably handed me a rake to get me outside, hoping I'd get some exercise and maybe make a leaf pile for me and my sister Patty to jump into.  These days my husband rakes the maple leaves that fall into our little back yard, and I manage to stay away from rakes most of the time.

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