Once in awhile, maybe, twenty-five or thirty years ago, they used to pack you off during the holidays for a visit on Somebody's Farm. Have you forgotten? You went with your little round head close clipped till all the scar places showed white and you came back with a mat of sunbleached hair, your face and hands and legs brown as a nut.
Probably you treasure recollections of those boyhood days when a raw field turnip, peeled with a "toad-stabber," was mighty good eatin'. You remember the cows and chickens, the horses, pigs and sheep, the old corn-crib where generally you could scare up a chipmunk, the gnarled old orchard—the Eastern rail-fenced farm of a hundred-acres-or-so. You remember Wilson's Emporium at the Corners where you went for the mail—the place where the overalled legs of the whole community drummed idly against the cracker boxes and where dried prunes, acquired with due caution, furnished the juvenile substitute for a chew of tobacco!
Or perhaps you did not know even this much about country life—you of the Big Cities. To you, it may be, the Farmer has been little more than the caricatures of the theatres. You have seen him wearing blue jeans or a long linen duster in "The Old Homestead," wiping his eyes with a big red bandana from his hip pocket. You have seen him dance eccentric steps in wrinkled cowhide boots, his hands beneath flapping coat-tails, his chewing jaws constantly moving "the little bunch of spinach on his chin!" You have heard him fiddle away like two-sixty at "Pop Goes the Weasel!" You have grinned while he sang through his nose about the great big hat with the great big brim, "All Ba-ound Ra-ound With a Woolen String!"
Yes, and you used to read about the Farmer, too—Will Carleton's farm ballads and legends; Riley's fine verses about the frost on the pumpkin and "Little Orphant Annie" and "Over the Hill to the Poorhouse!" And when Cousin Letty took you to the Harvest Home Supper and Grand Entertainment in the Town Hall you may have heard the village choir wail: "Oh, Shall We Mortgage the Farm?"
Perhaps even yet, now that you are man grown—business or professional man of the great cities—perhaps even yet, although you long have studied the market reports and faithfully have read the papers every day—perhaps that first impression of what a farmer was like still lingers in a more or less modified way. So that to you pretty much of an "Old Hayseed" he remains. Thus, while you have been busy with other things, the New Farmer has come striding along until he has "arrived in our midst" and to you he is a stranger.
Remember the old shiny black mohair sofa and the wheezy, yellow-keyed melodeon or the little roller hand-organ that used to play "Old Hundred"? They have given place to new styles of furniture, upright pianos and cabinet gramophones. Coffin-handles and wax flowers are not framed in walnut and hung in the Farmer's front parlor any more; you will find the grotesque crayon portrait superseded by photo enlargements and the up-to-date kodak....