Loading the player...


Jack Daniel Farmer, born in 1923, gives a vivid interview of life in Bailey. He was born and raised in Bailey, and has been at the center of town life for decades. He got into township politics as a poll-tender during elections when he was 18, too young to vote, but he did encourage people to support particular candidates. He became a real politician at age 40 when he got on the Town Council and was elected Mayor, a post he held for years. He had been to Wayne Community College to get certification in water management, so while Mayor he also was in charge of the township’s water and sewage systems. One of six children (one brother died early in World War II in a daylight raid over Germany), Farmer grew up mostly in Bailey except for a few years during the Depression when they moved to a farm three miles out of town. They didn’t have much, but would ride to the Methodist Church in town every Sunday in his father’s Model T. He has vivid recollections of Bailey in its “heyday,” from 1930 through the early 1950s. He talks about several of the stores and businesses – mentioning, among others, a market run by one of his Farmer uncles, the grocery markets of W. P. Finch and Hoyt Baker, and the bigger grocery store of D. L. Johnson. He also talks about the Bailey Pharmacy and some dress shops. In those days Bailey was a thriving railroad town, with six passenger trains coming through every day and bringing the mail, and freight trains bringing farm equipment, feed, and other agricultural necessities. He says mules would come in by train, and when let out would follow a horse in a line down the middle of the street to the livery stable. Farmer says he himself was a discipline problem in school (it took him two extra years to graduate). He spent a lot of time in the library as a punishment, where he studied the dictionary. At age 16 he got a job as a school bus driver, earning nine dollar a month, and used a year’s worth of pay to buy his first wooden clarinet (he still plays). He was drafted into the Army in 1948 ( he got training in aerial photography) but never had to serve overseas. He describes his parents as hard-working, though his father had asthma (and also smoked and drank). Farmer enjoyed going to FFA Camp at White Lake except for the sunburn. He mentions his FFA teacher E. E. Howton with gratitude and affection, and also mentions Mrs. Deedee Taylor, the station master, and tells an anecdote about local attorney Willard Stott at the funeral of Boy Bailey, a bootlegger. He has a lot to say about tobacco production, curing techniques, and barn burnings and other mishaps. Farmer seems to have found his years as Mayor rewarding, though stressful. He advice for small-town politicians: prepare to be called on night and day; develop a thick skin because everything that goes wrong in town will be your fault; be ready to handle all kinds of controversies like traffic-impeding planting, front porch issues, and quarrels between neighbors.





Downloads Statistics

Download Full History