Short and Sweet: What Happened in 1912?

Postcard from the archives of Grandma Fanny M. Longenecker
Postcard from the archives of Grandma Fanny M. Longenecker

History buffs and Downton Abbey devotées know that 1912 is the year of the sinking of the Titanic.

What Else Happened in 1912?

On the world scene   

Woodrow Wilson elected President

Japan sends 3020 cherry trees to the United States

First neon sign appears in Paris advertising a barber shop


American Inventions

Lysol disinfectant manufactured

General Electric invents and distributes plastics

Electric blanket invented


Whitman’s Sampler creates one of America’s best selling chocolates


Toy surprises are put into Cracker Jack boxes

Lane Company begins manufacturing cedar chests

On the market in 1912: Sun Maid Raisins, Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise



“When Irish Eyes are Smiling”

“My Melancholy Baby”



First Kewpie doll

First Lionel racing cars

A Page from Longenecker History

Vagabond poet Vachel Lindsay encountered the farm of John G. Longenecker, an ancestor who bucked Pennsylvania tradition geographically and moved to Kansas. Here is the poet’s impression of his experience with the Longeneckers, lifted from the pages of Pitchforks and Pitchpipes by Esther Longenecker Heistand:


What do you remember from 1912? (If you send an answer, I’m going to go hide!)

What is your most memorable moment in 2016?


Oh, Beautiful – Amber Grain & Grainy Amber


Did you grow up country? Can you picture a Dad, brother, or uncle toiling under the torrid July sun in the wheat field?

If so, you know that farmers always wore hats with brims. The ruddy-faced farmers I knew in the fifties probably didn’t use Coppertone or any other sunscreen, but they always wore hats with bills, revealing a totally white forehead when the caps came off.

The medieval French farmers in the drawing below in what looks like undies and sandals shield their anonymous faces from the sun with straw hats.

Grain field in Medieval Times: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grain field in Medieval Times: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

(You may be stifling a giggle at their odd attire right now!)

My dad farmed land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, so he was a farmer too, but he was known first as a farm implement dealer. As the owner of Longenecker Farm Supply, he sold farmers tractors, bailers, or combines for grain harvesting, and they called him often in a panic when their equipment broke down: In the middle of the field. At the worst possible time. When storm clouds loomed.

Howard Longenencker, one of Dad’s cousins, and Best Man at Mom and Dad’s wedding, is pictured here in a movie clip taking his new Minneapolis Moline harvesting machinery for a whirl around the field, enjoying every minute. Watch for his jubilant wave! I’ll call the clip “Grainy Amber” because it was filmed in the 1950s with much less sophisticated technology than available now.

Another relative, Esther Mae Longenecker Hiestand, has captured images of her family’s grain harvest in her 489-page book, all about the Longeneckers descended from the line of Ulrich Longenecker, who emigrated from Switzerland to America. She and her family collected over a dozen images of hay and wheat harvesting in her portrait of a Lancaster County family entitled Pitchforks and Pitchpipes (454 – 457).

* * *

So great a blessing was an abundant harvest that the warmth and productivity of the season was interpreted as an allegory of spiritual plenty. The ninth-century theologian Hrabanus Maurus writes that summer sun expresses the heat of God’s love, and that the season signifies the blessedness to come in Heaven (Medieval Book of Seasons, 1992.)

School children of all races and creeds sing lustily about the bounty of harvest in a patriotic song we hear often during the month of July:

Did you grow up country? Share your experience with summer harvesting of all kinds. Or add an impression, a quote. Whatever!

Up next: Purple Passages with Rainbow Colors

Root’s Country Market & Auction: Your Personal Tour

Are you hankering for chocolate-covered bacon, do you want to buy a rooster for your flock? A hat for the next Downton Abbey gala? Welcome to Root’s Country Market and Auction, a fixture from my childhood my sisters, husband, and I re-visit near Manheim, Pennsylvania.


Root’s, with over 200 stand-holders, is the oldest single family-run country market in Lancaster County. Beginning as a poultry auction in 1925, Root’s “has evolved over the years to become a piece of Lancaster County heritage.” Come walk with me along the aisles of stands, some housed in long sheds, others outdoors under awnings.

Did I say you can get all gussied up for next Downton Abbey series? At our first stop, we try on funny Brit hats rivaling those of Princesses Beatrix and Eugenie we remember gasping over at the William and Kate’s royal wedding.

purple hat

From fancy we meet plain at many of the produce stands either selling or buying vine-ripe tomatoes.



Here is a trusting book-selling, my new online friend, Kathy Heistand Brainerd, a distant cousin, whose mother Esther Longenecker is the author of Pitchforks and Pitchpipes, a pictorial and narrative portrait of one branch of the Lancaster County Longeneckers.


Yes, there are household items and books galore, but many stands cater to shoppers wanting fresh meats, produce, deli and bakery items–and flowers. This farmer boasts fresh blooms from his Manheim farm.


I promised you chocolate-covered bacon. Here is a look at a taste-tester. Yes, I had a bite too!


Then on to pickles, funnel cakes, and shoofly pies with wet bottoms satisfying the sweet and sour tastes:


Root’s is a market, and yes, we buy from not just photograph the vendors, but the market is also an auction house. Walking from one of the parking lots, we spy a warning sign urging bidders to uphold the integrity of the auction:


Wanna bid on a coop of roosters?

Our tour ends with Rosa, who graciously invites me to sample and buy one of her multi-colored angel-food cakes, pies, or whoopie pies at Miriams’s Pies. All home-made, of course. That’s the only way in Pennsylvania Dutch land. When I asked her permission to photograph and promote her wares, she admits with shy pride, “One of our customers put us on Facebook!”


I wonder . . . is there a piece of your past you want to re-visit? We are dying to know the “what – where – who” of your story. As always, you are invited to be part of our conversation.