On the Road Again With The Old Farmer's Almanac
Welcome to the September 2008 edition of “Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.
On the Road Again With The Old Farmer’s Almanac
“What’s the winter going to be like?” is the usual first question. But my most vivid memories of my past radio and television interviews had nothing to do with the weather.
Well, for the 217th consecutive year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac appears this month on newsstands across the country. September 9th is the official on-sale date for the brand-new 2009 edition, but you’ll be seeing it around before then. For more years that I care to say, I was the 12th (since 1792) editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and, as such, traveled around the country every September promoting the new edition on radio and television. I’ll be out there again this month, but most of the touring is now done by the 13th editor, my friend and colleague Janice Stillman, as well as Yankee Publishing CEO Jamie Trowbridge. But it’ll be a while before they’ve compiled as many bizarre, weird memories as I have.
For instance, I recall attempting to convince Katie Couric on the Today show that the chicken I was holding in my arms wasn’t stuffed but rather hypnotized. (We had a story that year on how to hypnotize a chicken.) She didn’t buy it. She’s pretty sharp, that Katie Couric.
I think it was the next year that I was, at the last minute, told I wouldn’t be going on Good Morning America because the Pope had just died. They scheduled me for a show three months later, and I was bumped off once more because — guess what? The Pope had died again!
There were times on these promotional tours when I had the feeling that some people considered The Old Farmer’s Almanac a little, well, maybe “hokey” would be the word. For example, I was on a live morning show in Cleveland on which I was the third of three guests. The first guest, a man from Pittsburgh, played “America the Beautiful” — with his armpit! (Actually, he was pretty good.) The second guest was the tallest woman in the world. At 7’9″ she was taller than even the late Wilt Chamberlain. As I said, I was the third guest that morning. Later, I began wondering whether there was some sort of message in that grouping of guests. And, if so, just what was that message?
Another odd memory is being interviewed by the ex-wife of the governor of Minnesota in her round wooden hot tub, water right up to our necks. Apparently her daily hot-tub interviews were quite popular in that part of the country. I’m not sure whether she’s still at it. I do recall she was very much on the hefty side. How hefty? Well, let’s put it this way: When she stood up and got out of the hot tub after the show, there were actually only a few inches of water in there.
The most vivid — and saddest — memory I have is sitting in the “the Green Room” — next to Harry Belafonte, incidentally — waiting to go on the Today show with Al Roker, when the second plane hit the World Trade Center’s south tower. Obviously, I never talked with Al that morning. The world had changed forever.
So look for me on the tube this month, although you’ll be more apt to see Janice Stillman and Jamie Trowbridge. (I’ll “do” only New York, Detroit, and Toronto.) And, also, look for that familiar yellow cover on the oldest continuously published periodical in North America. It’s the best issue ever. Am I already overly “promoting”? Shame on me.