Robert Morril Adams was an extension teacher in upstate New York for Cornell State University in the first part of the 20th century. He also wrote funny poetry which was astoundingly successful. As a result of it he was syndicated by newspapers in the United States and Canada. Hs career was cut short by a premature death from surgery on his ear, probably due to chronic mastoiditis.
Not only are these poems often funny, they also were meant to educate communities on the latest advances in farming, science and public health. In these poems, Bob Adams talks about the need for septic tanks, paved sidewalks, rotating crops, planting trees, evolution, etc. There are also some poems that are commentaries on morals and politics, along with descriptions of the pastoral delights of living in small towns in farming communities.
The poems give plenty of local color for the times. There is discussion about fashions in clothing, coal-heating, how bad the razors were before the invention of the safety razor, tirades about licensing car drivers and labor squabbles — and so on, and so on. With over 70 poems, a lot of ground is covered detailing rural live after WWI in America.
Two of Adams’ poems talked about Mazda lamps: Morpheus And Me, and Biddy Protests. I had no idea what he was talking about. There was just a little about them on google. It turns out that these were the names of the first commercially practical electric light bulbs, made by Thomas Edison. One of the biggest hints was given in a snippet from a textbook called Survey of Instrumentation and Measurement, edited by Stephen A. Dyer. In it, it says that the Mazda Light Company was started in 1891 to find away to monitor electrical usage to be able to charge for it.
Steve Dyer is the department head for Engineering at Kansas State University, and a charming and helpful guy. When he has a chance, he is going to ask a retired teacher of electrical engineering there for some pictures of early Mazda lamps to put online here. Nice!
Some of these poems are really, really funny. The rest are all pleasant reading, too.
So go on and get started! Just click on the title below:
Rude Rural Rhymes