Local author Sue Glasco has just added copies of her book Down on the Farm: One American Family’s Dream to
the crowded inventory of Josie Brooks’ Book Emporium at the South Commercial Strip Mall in Harrisburg.
When other 1950s parents were settling in suburbia, Glasco and her husband Gerald were dreaming of becoming “real
live dirt farmers.” After her husband completed graduate school in agriculture economics at the University of Illinois,
the family moved to the Mississippi bottoms to start a farming career by leasing a farm there. Unable to secure adequate animal
housing for hog production on leased land, three years later they moved to Columbiana Ranch located on the Illinois River,
and Gerald became livestock manager at the ranch. They had just had their third child, and Sue began writing about their life
as a weekly columnist--another dream she had.
When the family had opportunity to buy a 75-acre hog farm in Williamson County with Gerald’s brother, they excitedly
began their life on a farm of their own. Pregnant with their fourth child, Sue kept writing eventually selling the column
to the Herrin Daily Spokesman.
With stories of their young children and their cousins, their pets, raising hogs and hauling them to market, growing crops
and gardens in bad weather and good, the columns told of their struggles and pleasures with rural life.
When she began teaching speech part time at Marion High School, Sue changed the column’s title from “Just a
Housewife,“ to “A Widening Circle.“ Once again the column reflected and exemplified the social history of
The Spokesman changed owners, and the column was soon dropped.. Now her children were old enough to either resent
or relish being written about, and Sue decided neither reaction was desirable and that it was time to stop the column.
However, in recent years, Sue wanted to share the columns with her adult children and most of all with her grandchildren.
She thought they should know some of their parents’ childhood stories. Thus, the decision was made to create a book
out of the torn and yellowed clippings.
Down on the Farm, a compilation of those columns from 1962-66, will bring not only lumps in the throat but also laughter
and insight into the social history of the 1960s.
The book’s short and complete segments make for easy reading in the car or the bathroom. The humor and the universal
appeal of a young family’s trying to achieve a dream makes Down on the Farm a good gift book for not only those
who lived through the 1960s but also for younger families rearing children now.