I happened across this essay at the Canadian National Post site:
This piece brought back memories. For some reason I was fascinated by the Old Farmer’s Almanac during my adolescence. Why did a suburban youth, an asocial geeky type devoted to literature and astronomy, read such a curmudgeonly compilation of New England folklore, stories, and weather prognostication? Somehow the archaic-looking filigreed cover of the pulpy little booklet exerted a pull on me, and I bought a new copy every year. It was like a glimpse into another world. Little did I know that I would be living in a thoroughly rural environment within a few years — but as we all know, earlier years are much longer than later ones. Ironically enough I never bought the Almanac once I had moved out into the sticks.
Two quotes from the essay linked above:
In the early days Thomas drilled a hole through each copy so that it could be hung on a hook in an outhouse, providing both reading material and toilet paper. By the 1990s, when punching the hole was costing $40,000 a year, the editors decided to eliminate it. After outraged traditionalists demanded it be restored, the editors bowed to history and put it back. It’s still there. So is Robert Thomas. A drawing of him appears on the cover and his signature on the editorial page.
The secret of the Almanac writers is poise. They know their worth and take a quiet pride in their heritage. They believe in their knowledge and believe in spreading it, just like Robert Thomas. The anonymous author of the 2011 Farmer’s Calendar describes his habits and outlook with a sense of authority no one would think of defying.
I really ought to buy a current edition of the Almanac, just to see how the publication has changed during the past forty years!