News & Politics

From the Crap Archives: Trailblazer’s Almanac and Pioneer Book


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Trailblazer’s Almanac and Pioneer Book
Date: 1975
Discovered at: Antique Mall
The Cover Promises: In America, the tree bark peels like banana skin.
Representative Quote: Page 23, “Moles have an extremely remarkable sense of precision.”

A compendium of forecasts, horoscopes, oddball facts and advertisements for only the most embarrassing of products, the 1975 edition of Trailblazer’s Almanac and Pioneer Book is hardly designed for hardy folk hero-types like the buckskinned elf on the cover. Instead, it’s aimed squarely at a vanishing demographic: depressed, trivia-collecting farmers who pay as much attention to moon phases as Catholic newlyweds of the 1950s.

Today, it stands as a chilling portrait of the hardships afflicting family farmers even in the 1970s, perhaps the last decade in which they had a chance.

A typical ad suggests the difficulties of soil cultivation…

…but also the all-American belief that new products will make the difference.

The difference between joy and torture: the Troy-Bilt 2-in-1 Roto-Tiller Power Composter.

Between the ads, Trailblazer’s Almanac gets down to the business of prognostication. Sometimes, it’s undeniably helpful.

Sometimes, it misses the mark.

Between forecasts, Trailblazer’s Almanac offers icebreakers perfect for the moments after you and your kind have squatted down on your hams but before you feel up to puzzling over how the country turned mean. Here are “Strange Facts Which Are Little Known.”

Mostly, this makes farm-life seem like hell. Ads for pep pills, mail-order wives and funeral insurance abound. Among other things, the advertisers assume the following about Trailblazer’s Almanac and Pioneer Book readers:

• Flat-chestedness.

• Loneliness, with an anti-miscegenationist tinge.

• A fear of man and beast.

• Incontinence.

• But not, like, girly incontinence.

• And depressing dreams.

Highlight: A full page ad titled “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” opens with a boast of how it will trick you — the incontinent, wifeless, under-developed, whites-only farmer dreaming of saw-sharpening– into mailing ten dollars to Joe Karbo.

… this ad took about 2 hours to write. With a little luck, it should earn me 50, maybe a hundred thousand dollars. What’s more, I’m going to ask you to send me 10 dollars for something that’ll cost me no more than 50 cents. And I’ll try to make it so irresistible that you’d be a darned fool not to do it.

Karbo goes on to brag that his home is worth $100,000, that he only works 8 or 9 months a year, that he has stocks, bonds, two boats, a Cadillac and time to spend with his family. The he guarantees that, without even quitting your job, you can do it, too. He vows that his “Lazy Man’s Secret” doesn’t require “education.”

Or “capital.”

Or “luck,” “talent” or “youth.”

It demands just one thing: belief.

In Joe Karbo and his accountant, whose name is available upon request.


Archive Highlights