1923. Original manuscript. Hardcover. Four volumes (9.5" x 6.25") in uniform cloth bindings, spines and covers imprinted "Farm Diary / A Business Record & Account Book" with zodiac signs. Each page contains the date and up to 14 lines of diary entries, below which are 10 lines for ledger-style account. All entries are written in ink in a neat hand. Laid in are many tax forms, calculations, etc. Very Good. Item #040140
Homer E. Bush ran a large farm with two locations in Hampton County, Massachusetts. His major crop is tobacco. Other crops grown in abundance are corn, potatoes, hay, rye, straw, cabbage, beans, and carrots. Homer also runs an active dairy farm, selling milk, calves and heifers. He owns two teams of horses, and he describes the 1925 death of "Old Bob" with an emotion he rarely displays elsewhere (including the birth of his third son). Taken together, the Homer Bush diaries conjure a detailed picture of the ins and outs of running a large farm, employing 14 or 15 day laborers for seasonal work nearly 100 years ago. Homer is a careful record-keeper, so nearly all diary pages are filled with entries, along with records income and expenses. By late 1926, he is too busy and exhausted to continue. ~~ The ledger shows daily payments to workers, e.g., "Polish women," "tramp," "Connelly's boy," etc. Also noted are groceries bought, money paid to "the girl" who helps at home, equipment bought or repaired, shoeing of horses, crop-loss insurance, clothing, etc. The four diaries yield a daily account of what farm work has been done, how many crops are ready, fields plowed and manured, bushels gathered, day laborers, etc. Farmer Bush stands between eras, using horse teams as well as threshing machines, cultivators, and manure spreaders. While he details the work involved in growing all his crops, the tobacco crop gets star treatment. In January, 1926, for example, he "draws" 20,920 pounds of tobacco to his warehouse, along with 2,170 pounds of stalks. Homer documents all the cycles of work that tobacco requires: sowing starter, fertilizing, drawing stalks, raking beds, cutting, hanging, and stripping. He also must maintain tobacco sheds and stables for horses, deal with the cut-worm problem, hire (and fire) workers, keep track of finances, etc. Besides tobacco, he sells significant quantities of hay and straw to the Coal Company and to the US Whip Company in Westfield. ~~ Besides the details of running his farm, Homer's diaries shine sidelights on family and community life, including the activities of his wife, daughter, and four sons, along with those of his relatives and in-laws. He takes his kids to Sunday School. He traces their battles with scarlet fever, mumps, measles, etc. He makes ice cream for them on holidays, and takes them to town for errands, haircuts, and movies. The diaries do not mention birthdays or anniversaries, although funerals are noted. ~~ Tobacco-farmer Bush is also active in the community of Westfield, attending church, Men's Club, town meetings, political and literary lectures by Angelo Patri, Count Tolstoi, Dr. Charles Findlay ("the great colored preacher"), and Rabbi Wise on "Evolution and the Bible" (a few months after the Scopes trial. In 1925, he is elected to Town Council and serves on several committees. Besides adopting the use of various modern farm machines, Homer dreams of having his own automobile. He equips his "crystal radio" with an outdoor aeriai, listing the stations he receives and often listens to until midnight. He and wife Edna sometimes attend "the pictures," go to the circus when it's in town, join the audience at minstrel shows, etc. Bush is fascinated by flying machines. In October, 1923 he takes his family to the dedication of an aviation field, observing "nine airplanes here from Boston...and fine flying exhibitions." The next month, the Navy dirigible "Shenandoah...passes almost over us....Left NJ in morn and sailed to Boston by way of coast and back by way of Northampton, Holyoke, Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, and New York, 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Was visible from here for about half a mile."