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Celebrating History: Russell food administration paintings in the news

 


By Emily Mayer

The news in the July 6, 1918, edition of The Havre Plaindealer was interesting in many ways. The now-normal pleas from U.S. Food Administrator Herbert Hoover to further reduce food consumption were made, and housewives were encouraged to can fruits and vegetables to get through the winter ahead. The two pictures Charlie Russell painted for the Montana Food Administration also were making news.

The “Russell” Pictures

The food administration in Montana for whom the “cowboy artist,” Charles M. Russell, has painted two color posters, is informed now that the posters will be sold at auction this summer after the food administration has had copies made. The proceeds from the sale of the two paintings and a few Russell sketches will be turned over to the Red Cross. It is estimated that Mr. Russell’s “bit” will by this means mount to a very good sum.

A couple of weeks ago, I contacted the Montana Historical Society to see if these two paintings were part of their collection. Unfortunately, they are not but are at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

According to Russell expert Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney, MHS Senior Curator and art historian, the official name for “Hooverizin’” is “Partners” or sometimes spelled “Padners.” “Meat Makes Fighters” is officially “Beef for Fighters” and also called “Helping to Win” or “Old Biscuit Joe of the Matador.”

A special thanks goes out to the Montana Historical Society and Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney for their time and expertise in tracking down these two great pieces of art. If you are interested, I can send you links to the artwork — just give me a call!

Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games 100 years ago. Seems like people were smuggling more than illegal hooch from our neighbors to the north.

CANNOT IMPORT CANADIAN BREAD

The Montana office of the United States Food Administration has been notified that n o bread, pastry or rolls may be exported from Canada into the United States. Considerable Canadian bread ha been coming across the line into Montana in the past, but this new ruling will stop such shipments.

So much for neighbor helping neighbor.

We could, however, send dandelion roots to an exporting house in New York, as they were buying them for 23 cents a pound. Dandelion root is used for botanical drugs, and prior to the war Germany was the number one source for the crop, followed by several European nations. Too bad we can’t do that now, even at 23 cents a pound we could make a tidy sum here in beautiful, historic Havre, Montana!

News was also not so great on the weather front. According to local meteorologist Ling, June was “unusually warm” with only half of the normal precipitation. Another article found in the “legal” section of the Plaindealer also hit an ominous note:

SPECIAL MEETING TO PREPARE FOR CROP FAILURE

July tenth is designated “Save Montana Day.” Farmers who need feed and seed, those requiring labor or have stock for sale, etc., should report at their respective school houses. Those who can take additional stock for pasturage, and wish to help serve in other ways should also report.

On July 6th the Hill county farm bureau will meet with the defense council representatives of the government to plan for handling the crop failure situation, and draft resolutions for government assistance such as Toole county already has done.

PAUL B. BANKER, County Agent.

Locally, Havre enjoyed the Great Northern Montana Stampede on July 4th. Horse and stage coach races, bucking contests, and bulldogging were all events where cowboys competed for prizes. The Red Cross was given a buffalo, which was ridden by Tex Smith in the rodeo.

Last week, it was announced the new editor of the Plaindealer had arrived in Havre. This week, we learned the previous owner and editor, Sam Y. B. Williams, had succumbed to his illness in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been interred in Helena, where the Knights of Pythias, Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks took part in his funeral service. The Plaindealer had this to say about their fellow newsman in its editorial section:

Sam Y. B. Williams

It is the sad duty of The Plaindealer this week to pay its final tribute to its late owner and publisher who died in Colorado a week ago. He had gone away in search of healing in vain, and there, far from his friends he kept his “rendezvous with Death.” He had but a scant two-score of his allotted years and many are the friends that mourn his early death.

On every hand are heard regrets and expressions of sorrow at the loss of Mr. Williams to this community and The Plaindealer shares in the regret and sorry it extends, its deepest sympathy to his family in their great loss. His personality made a deeper impression upon his friends and associates than he would have believed or than they would have realized but for his passing.

Mr. Williams had always at heart the best interests of Havre and Hill county and in their service his influence was always felt and his efforts generously given.

 

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