Antique Farm Display Helped Fair Goers Remember the Good Old Days

The tools pictured are, from left to right, are: a toaster, an apple peeler, and a cake tester.The 2014 Monroe County Fair has come and gone and good times were had by all in the Antique Farm Equipment Building. We had over two hundred visitors over the 6 days and talked 85 into guessing how many Jolly Ranchers were in the candy jar.  We also had 53 guesses on the three tool items we had on display.  It was wonderful to see so many families come in with their children and grandchildren and talk to them about the antique farm tools. Many remembered using some of the tools with their parents and grandparents and some remembered using things themselves. We even had a few who still use some of the items on display today.

Our winner for the candy guess was Thad Indermuhle. He guessed 203 and the actual number of Jolly Ranchers was 202. There were 3 other young people who guessed 200. Over all, children had better  estimates than the adults.  Mark that up to a current third grade standard in math.

Our tool guesses were varied and some just downright creative.  The  item for guess for adults was a whisk broom like object that was created by a broom maker especially for ladies to use as a cake tester. The cake baker would pull off one of the straws of the small broom and insert it in the cake when she thought it was done. If the straw came out dry the cake was done, if wet when pulled out the cake needed to bake longer. Today most of us use a tooth pick for this test. These broom-like cake testers are still available today in kitchen gadget catalogues and stores. Now are you thinking what this writer is thinking?  I wonder how many might have just used a straw from their floor brooms. Shirley Pfalzgraf was the first to guess it as a cake tester. Also guessing correctly were Angela Kerce and Marlene Moose.  Some interesting uses for the tester were for sweeping off table crumbs, ashes out of fireplaces and chimneys, dusting off hats or wool clothes, pastry brush, burr remover, early loofah, and corn silk cleaner. Undoubtedly if it works for another task, so be it.

The other two guesses were limited to those 20 years and younger.  We put this stipulation on the items because it is becoming harder and harder to find items to guess that no one is familiar with. Item number two was an apple peeler. Mary Brooks was the first to guess it correctly and Makenna Indermuhle, Micah Roberts, and Kylie Piatt were also among the youngsters who guessed correctly. At times we were rather busy so rather than miss someone under 20 I will list the other names who guesed correctly before I got the age limit explained.  Thelma Forshey, Angela Kerce, and Dale Stewart also guessed the apple peeler correctly.  Some creative guesses for the peeler were vegetable peeler, potato peeler, mixer, potato masher, can opener, and something used to make applesauce. Ironically, the front cover of the fall/winter Lehman's Catalogue showed their current apple peeler with a partially peeled apple in place.

Guess number three was a Knoblock Pyramid Toaster.  These toasters were made early in the 1900's with some still being on the market in 1929. Research showed that  women were unwilling to trust electricity when it first came to their kitchens and so these woodstove toasters were still selling for 87 cents in the late 20's. Makenna, Thelma, Micah, and Angela again had the correct guess.  Hands down most young guessers said it was a cheese grater, while other guesses were a candle snuffer, candle holder,  grilled cheese cooker, and a fish scaler. This item too is still produced today for outdoor camping ware. By the way this item was a four slice toaster that sat on the woodstove burner. The toast browned on the inside and then had to be turned to brown the other side.

The Monroe County Historical Society wishes to thank all who visited the display, shared memories, guessed, and contributed to preserving history. We will see you next year and are looking forward to some new equipment promised as a result of the 2014 fair.

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