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Rural Life And Grit Magazine Coming To The Rescue

Monday 29 January 2018 at 7:59 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for January 25, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            The old adage, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” seems to hold more and more truth for me the older I get. So many times over the years, rural life has come to my rescue. It was a farm house in the middle of an apple orchard in Mequon, Wisconsin, that rescued us once from no-place-to-live. However, I discovered then, as I do now, that this old country boy has far too little memory of farming and farming methods and almost no ability “to do it” anymore. Yet, I’m not a “fake country boy,” I’m just a faded one who has had far too much exposure to the literati and the aesthetes. And I’m not knocking the literati and the aesthetes either.

            Moving to East Bernard, our town of rural bliss, after the cultural shock of Ann Arbor, rescued me from the fallout of academic intensity. That happened a few years before I re-discovered Grit, which had been a newspaper much loved by rural folks in the 1940’s.

            Living in the rural Utopia of Dime Box in the 1940’s, everyone in my family looked forward to each arrival of this publication. Grit was usually sold door to door for a nickel a copy by a local teenager earning a little pocket money. In those days, it was more a newspaper than a magazine, but it always included dress patterns, quilt patterns, and embroidery designs, a fact that made my mother love the publication. It also had puzzles, cartoons, and how-to-do-it articles on such things as making kites and bird houses. My father enjoyed the tips on gardening and animal care. It always had something for everyone living in a rural town.

            In the 1990’s, while writing for the East Bernard Tribune, I came across an ad or a promotion for Grit Magazine, and thus re-discovered an old, long lost friend. Only, it was no longer a rural newspaper, but a rather sophisticated magazine. It called itself: Grit: American Life and Tradition, and there was still some rural emphasis in the mag, but it seemed to be attempting to expand beyond just “rural.” After a short time of feeling nostalgia, I soon lost track of the publication. Until recently.

            Once again, rural life, as symbolized by, and in the form of, Grit Magazine, rescued me! When I retired from a second career, in late 2017, I launched myself into a third career as a Free Lance Writer, not realizing that free-lance writing was a very difficult way to earn a living, or even make a little extra money!

            In searching for markets for my writing, I once again came across Grit, still a magazine, but now having returned somewhat to its original life as a publication for farmers and other folks living in rural areas. Now, instead of proclaiming to be a magazine of “American Life and Tradition,” it proclaimed itself as “Celebrating Rural America Since 1882,” and under their logo are found the words, “Rural American Know How.” The Editor is now Caleb D. Regan and the Managing Editor, Kellsey Trimble, and they made my day!

            Grit’s website explained: “Today’s GRIT is an upbeat rural title just as it has been since 1882. . . . We still have the same values: Community, Family, Positive Outlook and Sharing.” It was now being proclaimed as the magazine for folks looking to get the most out of country living. Yes! I had to send them a feature article! I sat down and wrote a feature about my daddy making furniture out of old apple box wood, right after the Depression. And I sent it to them as fast as I could. GRIT liked it! They accepted it! They bought it! Yes, I would get MONEY for my writing!

            To make a long story short, I must tell you that Grit (which pays well) and a literary journal (which pays only by the honor of being published) are the only two publications so far who have accepted works which I’ve submitted. I won’t tell you how many rejection slips I have received. I was rescued by Grit, that is, rescued from feeling like a free-lance failure. I’m glad to have found my magazine again, and I’m glad you can’t take the country completely out of the country boy!


Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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