Alive and flourishing 50 years ago, as...


April 01, 1992

SEXISM WAS alive and flourishing 50 years ago, as witnessed by this commentary in The Evening Sun of March, 1942:

"Having campaigned for years, in a quiet, horticultural way, for the substitution of 'kings' for 'queens' in the agricultural festivals, but without notable success, The Evening Sun is rocked back on its editorial heels today by the announcement at Martinsburg, W. Va., that Charles D. Catrow has been officially recognized as king of the cherry orchardists of his section and presented with a gold watch.

"Hitherto it has been a custom to install a pretty girl as queen -- queen of the apple blossom festival, queen of the tomato carnival, queen of the stringbean revels, and so on. Our contention has always been that the place for the pretty girls is the beauty contest or the home, and that the honors should go, instead, to the horny-handed practical men who really accomplish horticultural improvements. As we pointed out at the time, the absolute nadir of common sense was reached at the Michigan peach festival last season, when a damsel who, it turned out, was allergic to peaches, was selected as queen. (Peaches gave her the hives, and she had to get away from there as soon as the ceremonies were over.)

"But now, out of Martinsburg, W. Va., comes a glimmer of common sense. Perhaps we shouldn't take any credit for it. . . . Nevertheless, we feel encouraged. Maybe there is an incipient epidemic of common sense among agricultural folks with regard to whom to honor; maybe this is the beginning of a trend to pick men who actually know the art of pruning, selecting and grafting, rather than sweet young things who don't know the difference between an insecticide and a fungicide.

"One thought disturbs us slightly, however. After all, this is the cold and dormant season. Come spring, and fruit trees blossom, even sensible folks up around Martinsburg, W. Va., may get giddy and decide to hold a festival, with a pretty little city gal in a pink tulle costume and a gilded paper crown getting all the attention."

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