“I didn’t know that!”

I spoke at the Fountain Park Chautauqua in Remington, Indian on July 17 on the topic From Cradle to Grave: The Impact of Sears Roebuck on Rural America. My goal was to get the audience to say, “I didn’t know that.” It didn’t take long. Sears and Roebuck was engaged in numerous activities to benefit rural America that few people know about such as paying the salaries of county agents, buying furs from trappers, producing movies about agriculture, providing scholarships to rural youth, promoting victory gardens, starting adult farmer short courses, establishing livestock chains, and the list goes on and on.

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Twelfth Presentation at Chautauqua

My first presentation at the Chautauqua Institute in New York was in 2011. They invited me back this year for my 12th presentation (in 2015 I made two presentations but missed one year because of the Pandemic). They must be hard up for speakers.

This year I spoke about From the New Deal to a Raw Deal: The Experiences of Japanese American Farmers During World War II. One of the audience members had grandparents who were in a relocation camp during the war. It was interesting talking to him. This presentation was based on a series of Friday Footnotes I wrote in May of 2022 https://footnote.wordpress.ncsu.edu/2022/05/19/a-raw-deal-part-1-5-20-2022/

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Whomp, Whomp, Whomp

Do you know what a pool noodle sounds like when you hit it on the floor? I discovered the sound they make recently while attending the Area 1 FFA Convention in Canyon, Texas. Nine hundred plus FFA members and guests were at the convention. The FFA members bang the pool noodles together or on the floor instead of applauding. It was neat!

I had the privilege of speaking to this group about developing leadership. The presentation “C You at the Top” looked at characteristics of leaders such as commitment, caring for others, comprehending the issues, communicating, complimenting and several other C words.

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Coming Full Circle

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Temple Beth Or for their University Senior Day last week. I spoke about the Rosenwald School program. Julius Rosenwald, the one time president of Sears and Roebuck, had established a foundation to benefit mankind. One of the projects was to build schools in the South for African American children. Over, 5000 schools were built.

In 1928 the 4,000th school was built in Raleigh, NC. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Julius Rosenwald came to the dedication of the school. While in Raleigh he spoke at Temple Beth Or. So my presentation about Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools at Temple Beth Or somewhat completed the circle.

An excerpt from The Raleigh News and Observer dated April 4, 1928 is below.

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I Keep Learning

Yesterday I spoke to the NCSU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute about Sears, Roebuck and Company. While I educated the group, I was in turn educated by several attendees. One person had worked in the Sears Tower in Chicago in an IT role and said the employees looking forward to the new catalogs every year because Cheryl Tiegs was the featured swim suit model. I didn’t know that. The ad below was in the 1984 Sears Catalog.

Another attendee was a stamp collector and told how Sears used pre-cancelled stamps to save the post office the time and expense of cancelling the stamps. The precancelled stamps had two lines across the face of the stamp, the mailing location, and the initials of the mailing firm (SRC for Sears, Roebuck and Company) and the time period in which the stamp was valid. He said some collectors specialize in these types of stamps.

A Precancelled stamp used by Sears

So I often learn a good bit from the audience.

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Fur sure!

Yesterday I spoke at the upscale retirement community The Cardinal at North Hills. My presentation was titled “From Cradle to Grave: The Impact of Sears and Roebuck on Rural America.” The audience learned a lot about Sears they didn’t know. Perhaps the most interesting unknown fact was that Sears bought raw fur from trappers between 1925 and 1958. Trappers would mail their pelts to Sears. Sears also sponsored a national fur show between 1929 and 1958 in various cities. Trappers, often just farm boys, could win nice prizes with their entries in the fur show. Sears even had a magazine that contained trapping tips they sent to the trappers. Medals were sent sent to trappers who did a good job of preparing their furs.

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A Good Question

Earlier this week I spoke to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at North Carolina State University about The History of Toilet Paper and SUCH! The audience had lots of good questions. One was why is toilet paper white and why don’t we have colored toilet paper. The first answer is in the manufacturing of toilet paper chlorine or hydrogen peroxide is used to make the lignin in the wood pulp white and to also to get recycled fibers white.

During the 1950s it was trendy to have colored toilet paper and many households had color coordinated bathrooms. However, adding a dye to toilet paper is costly and there is concern about the safety of some of the dyes; so the use of colored toilet paper faded away in America. However, one can find colored toilet paper (even black) in South America and Europe.

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What Happens in Vegas….

I hope the saying what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas isn’t true! Last week I had the privilege of conducting two workshops at the annual meeting of the American Association of Agricultural Educators. I hope the teachers take what I said back to their home states.

The first workshop was No Regrets: How to Balance Your Professional and Personal Life. The second workshop was Bitter or Better? Eight Steps to Becoming a Resilient Teacher. It was a pleasure interacting with the teachers on these two important topics.

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Four of a Kind

In poker, four of a kind is a strong hand. I recently experienced something similar, four presentations in four consecutive business days. However, unlike four of a kind in poker, each presentation was totally different. They were:

Transforming Education for African American Children in the South – The Story of the Rosenwald School Program, Presentation to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. November 14.

Land Grant Colleges and the Cooperative Extension Service. Presentation to the Rurally Engaged Agricultural Leaders cohort. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, November 11.

Growing Our Future: As We Mingle With Others. Podcast for the Texas FFA Foundation. November 10

Early and Forgotten Leaders in Agricultural Education. Presentation to Graduate Students in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation, Louisiana State University, November 9.

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I Didn’t Know That!

When I speak to audiences about the impact of Sears and Roebuck on rural America most audiences are acquainted with the Sears catalogs and the Sears House Kits. However, my goal is to get them to say “I didn’t know that!” and that is the response I received from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members when I spoke to them on September 16 about the Sears sponsored fur buying program, the livestock chains, the WLS radio station, the paying of extension agent salaries, the farmers markets, the barn kits, college scholarships for agriculture students plus much more, The image below is of the mailing label used to ship furs to Sears.

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