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“The Exorcist” October Creature Feature

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OCTOBER CREATURE FEATURE

 

THE EXORCIST

 

The film that transformed an obscure Church ritual into a sought after global profession

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

In my lifetime from October 1955 through mid-December 1973,in the United States, if you needed an “Exorcist”, you would have few real options.

 

You could buy a plane ticket to go to the Vatican and try to convince a priest or the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

 

You could try and find someone who knew a root worker or conjurer in New Orleans, Louisiana, who might be willing to help you.

 

You could try and contact someone who had a friend, who lived out in San Francisco, California and was into “The New Age Movement.”

 

If you seriously needed an “Exorcist” before 1973, in the United States, you really had to look under every stone to find one and hope you could find someone who had an understanding priest in the Roman Catholic Church, who would take you seriously enough to actually look for an “exorcist.”

 

The Real Deal Exorcists

 

William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel, “The Exorcist,” had aspects that were inspired by the actual Exorcism of Roland Doe in Maryland in 1949. Jesuit Priest, Father William S. Bowdern and Father Walter Halloran were the real exorcists.

 

There have been television shows that talked about the original exorcism and one fact all seemed to agree on is the family basically had to beg the church for an exorcism. The practice of exorcisms had become essentially a ritual that had been left in the past.

 

The “resurrected” ritual of exorcism did much not only for The Church, but for all churches. William Friedkin’s film, “The Exorcist” based on Blatty’s novel put God back up on the marquee that got people going back to all kinds of churches, temples, synagogues and mosque because Satan was real again.

 

Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen” were child demonic films of the late 1960s and early 1970s that also got people’s attention.

 

What always got me about “The Exorcist” was how such a “normal” little girl could be possessed ?

 

Effective Evil Effects

 

There were no Hollywood Computer Generated Images for movies in the 1970s, production and special effects people had to do create the effects the old fashioned way ‘– “They had to be creative.” Now, people smile at the “pea soup” that gets shot out of Regan’s mouth in the movie, but, it was one of those “Wow” moments in theaters in the 1970s.

 

The fashion sense, or lack there of, of the 1970s does much to make a film look dated, but, the story, the actors, actresses and effects did such a magnificent job Regan MacNeil, the possessed girl, is one of those Halloween characters in the shadow between vampires, mummies, Frankenstein and zombies that no one wants to think about because she just might be “The Real Deal after all.”

 

Face it, no one wants to have to tell their father or mother, “We won’t be coming home for Christmas because your granddaughter is possessed by Satan.”

 

The real fear of The Exorcist movie is that maybe, just maybe, your child could be possessed by Evil. The movie really does turn that parental fear into the worst case scenario by the use of suspense and the creative use of effects. It is little wonder why this movie has become an American Cult Classic.

 

You factor in the notion that you have a veteran priest, who has dealt with and faced Evil at various times and is ready for the battle. Then, you add the young doubting priest to the mix, who believes he is more “a man of science” than “a man of the cloth.” Basically, he let the Church pay for his education, so he could become a successful psychiatrist. Stepping into the ring, Satan has the upper hand and the odds are all in His favor.

 

Temptation Of Teenagers ?

 

Ellen Burstyn, who plays the actress mother, wants the best for her daughter. Linda Blair, who plays Regan Mac Neil, the daughter, is the average All-American Girl for the 1970s.

 

I grew up on a hog farm in the conservative Midwest of the United States of America, known as the Ozarks, right smack dab in “The Bible Belt.” My family, friends and neighbors went to the Baptists and Pentecostal churches. Some crossed the line into Taney County to go to Branson or into Greene County to go to Catholic churches, Lutheran, Methodists and Presbyterians.

 

The preachers and pastors of Stone County, Missouri took their “hellfire and damnation” lessons to heart and knew they were the First Line Of Defense against Satan and His Demonic Legions.

 

Thus, in the Ozarks and the Midwest, you never expected to see Satan walking down the highway or shopping for groceries in the local supermarket. But, in the 1960s or 1970s, if you are writing a story, script or play – how would you get Satan or any of his demons to realistically appear in the literary work ?

 

Demon Dare

 

As decadent and liberal minded as New York City was suppose to be in the 1960s and 1970s; there had to be a way to get Evil into the script and the movie. The All-American Fall Guy – the Ouija Board.

 

In the US, in the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed there were only two real ways for Evil to show up. Teenagers had to figure out some way to do “Satanic Rituals” or go to the store and pretend to be nave enough to buy and use a Ouija Board.

 

In this film, the Ouija Board is the culprit that is “The Three Mile Island” incident that starts demonic radiation leaking into the MacNeil home and poor Regan glows with it.

 

Use of the Ouija Board, helps explain how an East African demon gets through US Customs without a passport and visa. Then, again The Department Of Homeland Security is a story that doesn’t happen until the beginning of the 21st Century.

 

Max von Sydow, who stars in the role of Father Lankester Merrin really does come across as the devout veteran priest, who is ready to stare the demon in the eye and send it back to Hell.

 

Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras does an excellent job as the young priest, who really believes he is a long lost psychiatrist in his soul. One of the story twist is suppose to have the young priest broken up about his mother’s death. I didn’t get the message in 1973 and I haven’t gotten it since.

 

On screen the first time you see the aging, invalid mother, the film mom is sort of already a citizen of “The Twilight Zone” looking to move into “The Outer Limits.” Without more details or a back story to show the mother and son relationship, that story line to me wastes film. I’m a Momma’s Boy, so I’m critical.

 

Actor Titos Vandis, in the role of the young priest’s uncle works with Miller to pull off the story line, but, that is an area where I believe the movie falters and probably gets forgotten about in the overall bouts with the demon. In this movie, the mom character was dead before she was written into the script and she seems just as dead up on the screen.

 

Exorcist Era Excitement

 

This is the movie that “Really Did Start It All.” The obscure term, “exorcist” smoldering in the Vatican archives, “purified” the way for an American religious revival in Catholic and Protestant Churches and created battalions of televangelists and legions of lay (and lame) exorcists throughout the globe.

 

Satanic Seventies ?

 

The ongoing, relentless, never-ending Vietnam War had made young Americans jaded, cynical and skeptical. Grandparents and parents looked at the grandchildren and children and wondered if maybe “alien astronauts” had abducted” and switched their kids because “The Generation Gap” was the real deal.

 

Generations of Americans spoke English to one another in their homes and yet the message was like “A Day At The United Nations Without Translators “ – No one understood ‘nuthin’.

 

America’s politicians in the 1960s were the kind of leaders that people rushed to build statues to. By the 1970s, Americans politicians seemed to be like “used car dealers that you couldn’t get rid of.”

 

The Godfathers

 

America had the traditional movie and sports celebrities of their generation in the early 1970s, but, the “Godfather” movies did “the kinder, gentler dance” for Organized Crime. J. Edgar Hoover had gotten long in the tooth and the organized crime bosses of America had their own brash, public style that had to be the envy of America’s “stale bread politicians of the early 1970s.”

 

While American underworld figures weren’t holding their daily press conferences at their mansions, they were out and about and people couldn’t get enough of their exploits in the streets of America. The irony is the Crime Rate in America was pushing people to believe “Vigilante Justice” might not be such a bad solution as long as you don’t get caught. “Dirty Harry” had become the ideal lawman of America.

 

Nix on Nixon

 

Nixon had no use for the American news media and the American news media had no use for Nixon, other than the political cartoonists, who thrived on daily demonizing his facial features.

 

After Watergate, nothing Nixon said really mattered. The press didn’t seem to believe a word he said and his approval rating with the American public dropped faster than a bad day in the stock market.

 

 

 

Then, of course, Men in America actually got to wear something other than white shirts and black ties. Unfortunately, the Men’s Fashion Scene of the 1970s “overdosed” America’s fashion sense – too much, too soon. Wide ties, wide lapels, bright colors for men’s suits, white belts, white shoes, hounds tooth sport coats thrown into the mix with polyester and wide collars on mien’s shirts. Plus, there was the jogging suits to wear, even if you never intended to go jogging. And denim flared jeans and denim flared bell bottoms were still on the drawing board for the seventies fashion scene.

 

The early 1970s had America’s scurrying like mice on an exercise wheel – they just weren’t sure where they were suppose to be running to.

 

Demonic Days

 

If you look back at 1973, you wonder if someone on Satan’s staff had decided to literally “set the stage” leading up to the release of “The Exorcist.”

 

January 22, 1973 – US Supreme Court rules on Roe versus Wade and overturns states’ bans on abortion.

 

The Vietnam War “Officially Ends” January 27, 1973 with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Nixon tries to take credit for the peace agreement. The American news media and many Americans actually see Dr. Henry Kissinger, America’s First Jewish Secretary Of State as the man who got the deal.

 

November 5, 1973, the term, “Shuttle Diplomacy” entered the American culture and described the efforts that Secretary of State Kissinger made in the Middle East at the end of the Yom Kippur War to help keep the region stable.

 

Despite Secretary Kissinger’s hard work to keep the Arab states and Israel living in a somewhat peaceful existence – some religious critics started shouting that Secretary Kissinger could be, “The Anti-Christ.”

 

March 29, 1973, the last United States soldier leaves Vietnam.

 

May 17, 1973, I wear the cap and gown and graduate from Galena High School, Galena, Missouri. It should have been a proud moment for God and Satan. It was a proud moment for me. By June, I was in college at the School Of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri.,

 

The US bombing of Cambodia ends June 1.

 

July 12, 1973 – The National Archives Fire – The entire 6th floor of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis Missouri is destroyed by a fire. Countless US Navy and US Army records are lost, which will affect World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War military people and their families for generations to come in the area of honorable discharges, military retirement pay and documentation of earned and awarded military decorations.

 

Egyptian and Syrian military forces attack Israel, September 11, 1973, to start the “Yom Kippur War,” in the Sinai Pennisula and the Golan Heights. I am working at KSOZ-FM, to work my way through college. I look through the large plastic window at the huge gray Associated Press teletype thrusting down the keys to announce the start of the War. I’m excited about the story.

 

I rip off the yellow sheet of news copy and hand it to someone in the newsroom. They nod and comment, “Another War in the Middle East.”

 

I understand now, why no one rushed to get it “on air” as breaking news. It was the 1970s, and there was always bad news coming out of the Middle East.

 

I saw the War as a possible start to “Armageddon.” Everyone else in the newsroom just saw it as more bad news from the Middle East to be read after the day’s latest Watergate story.

 

The Yom Kippur War ends October 26, 1973.

 

October 10, 1973, “The Saturday Night Massacre,” Richard Milhouse “Tricky Dick” Nixon fires Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus.

 

No matter What Nixon did – The Watergate Break-In June 17, 1972 – would not go away and each day’s newspaper brought a new “Watergate” headline in the continuing scandal.

By December 23, 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, had doubled the price of crude oil at the pumps – just in time for “Christmas.”

 

American theaters flip the switch and Warner Brothers “The Exorcist “ flickers on to movie screens December 26, 1973.

 

By November 1979, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini labeled “America, The Great Satan: in a speech. Khomeini was the 1970s version of Al Quaeda’s Osama bin Laden.

 

In the early 1960s, Khomeini used his criticism of the Shah of Iran Pahlavi to rise to power among his Muslim followers. The Shah exiled him and he spent more than 14 years in exile between Paris, Turkey and Iraq. Khomeini did not like that the United States Government had close relations with Iran and that the Shah had moved to modernize Iran.

 

When you look back at 1973, it seems like God had gotten dropped off for church bingo and Americans weren’t sure if they were going to pick Him up or hand Him His “Pink Slip.”

 

Satan At The Box Office

 

The film brought in $66.3 million from theaters in the United States and Canada. It currently stands as “The Top Grossing R Rated Film Of All Time.”

 

The Exorcist” movie proved to be the “shakeup” that got God back in His penthouse and kept Him on as the CEO Of Heaven. “The Exorcist” woke up and scared Americans.

 

Before the movie appeared in theaters, many Americans were like Actor Lee J. Cobb in the role of New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, something is wrong and you just can’t put your finger on it.

 

The approach worked for Cobb’s detective’s role in the movie and outside the theater in the streets of America, “something was wrong and no one knew how to put a finger on it.”

 

The Medical Men

 

Arthur Storch, in the role of the psychiatrist and Barton Haymen as Dr. Samuel Klein are the classic American “Medical Men” of the 1970s, “Of course, Science has an answer for it.” But, when Regan’s condition doesn’t respond to medical treatment, one of the doctors blurts out something about an “exorcist.”

The time devoted to the “Science” and “Medicine”approach in the movie is smart because by the 1970s doctors and scientists had taken to their academic pulpits and “preached” to anyone who would listen that science and medicine would find the cure for all the ills of humanity.

America’s New Prophets

America’s Psychiatrist were on a roll. Sigmund Freud had got them out into the limelight. People seemed hungry for the latest development from the psychiatric world. Hollywood didn’t let the fad pass by; they cranked out movies as fast as they could about doctors and psychiatrist saving the day.

Psychiatrists were America’s New Prophets. It did seem doctors, scientists and psychiatrist had an answer for everything.

The Supernatural” remained the chink in the psychiatrist’s armor. The responses of : “superstition”, “imagination”, and “all in your mind” worked until something happened before your eyes.

Find An Exorcist In The Yellow Pages

Before the movie, your best bet to find an “exorcist” would be to seek permission to search the Vatican archives for a vague reference to an “exorcist.”

After the movie, “Exorcists In America were thicker than hairs on a dog’s back.” At the current rate of growth in a few years America will probably be turning out as many exorcists as we do lawyers and doctors.

No doubt, none of the televangelists of the 1970s and 1980s will ever give “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Omen,” or any of the other religious horror TV or movie spin-offs an honorable mention, but without “The Hounding Hell Horror Of The Satanic Silver Screen,” some of those preachers would of stayed on cable TV and still be going through the Ozarks trying to arrange “Brush Arbor Revivals” and church pie suppers.

A 21st Century Exorcist ?

Hollywood is silly if they don’t already have plans to do an updated version to compliment, but not compete with the original movie.

A new version could not compete because Linda Blair’s Regan MacNeil character had her unique unspoken, “I’m not going away. . .ever” look, near the end of the movie.

The silly 1970s wardrobe makes “The Exorcist” dated, but, hey, even in the 1970s, “We had to wear clothes.”

Casting Directors – Stellan Skarsgard has earned the right to be Father Merrin in an updated version. In Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist,” Mr. Skarsgard became the role. In “Exorcist:The Beginning”, he became Father Lankester Merrin, Roman Catholic Archaeologist Priest.

Now, if the Department of Motor Vehicles could just get Mr. Skarsgard ‘s name on his new license right and the Vatican would quit sending him offers for another exorcism overseas.

Darling Demonologists”

In another more contemporary version, it would be nice if the screenwriter could write in a way to bring in a senior ranking demon with more established credentials in religious history, which would allow for even more suspense, special effects and (probably) a bigger budget.

And, since the “Name Of The Game Is Horror”, a senior ranking demon could up the on screen body count to stress the possibility that today’s dog walker shouldn’t count on being tomorrow’s “Darling Demonologist.”

Exorcist 2013 Script Session

Quick, get Warner Brothers on the phone. I’ve got it.

Camera Fade In: Regan’s granddaughter graduates from Oxford and returns to the US to visit “granny.” They are doing the girl, “shoot the breeze” conversation routine. Suddenly, Regan’s youngest granddaughter comes up out of the basement with something in her hands.

You guessed it, America!

Sometimes the old literary devices are the best. All together now, “Ouija Board !”

They chuckle. Of course, granny has had a wonderful life and completely forgot about the initial possession (and probably The Exorcist” spin-off movies after the original).

They open the box, take out the board and begin to play.

Too late “Granny” remembers.

The granddaughter is now “possessed.”

Granny whips out her cell phone hoping that she still has an exorcist priest on speed dial.

The granddaughter does her contortions routine, while the youngest granddaughter jumps up and down screaming.

From here on out. . .it is up to the Hollywood screen writers. You guys and gals run with it. But, go for a demon, who usually gets top billing, with “name recognition.”

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St. Peter’s Basilica from Castel Sant’Angelo showing the dome rising behind Maderno’s facade. Public Domain Photograph

 

Exorcists Resurrection

The Vatican is now admitting, “Exorcists exist” and is training them. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a group of British school girls seem to be blurring the line between Fact,Faith, Fantasy and Fiction.

Based on the “Darling Demonologists” ages, someone should hand them an old mystic text and point to the section on teenagers,hormones and, “Oh, Look ! Puberty and Poltergeist ?”

Five Star Rating

The Exorcist” is an American Cult Classic, as it should be. Hands down I give it a Five Star Rating and remind viewers it carries an R rating.

For your Halloween viewing this is definitely a movie to watch on All Hollow’s Eve or the night before.

Incidentally, when you swing by Wal-Mart to pick up your Twizler’s and Junior Mints, you might want to make a quick stop at the church to make sure you have a crucifix and rosary beads handy. May, as well pick up a little Holy Water. . .to be safe.

Sam

 

 

Exorcist Information Links

 

Exorcism of Roland Doe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exorcism_of_Roland_Doe

Father Walter Halloran

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Halloran

The Story of a Modern-Day Exorcist

By Gilbert Cruz Monday, Mar. 16, 2009

 

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1885372,00.html


British School Girls Exorcists

We’re not like normal teenagers’: Meet the exorcist schoolgirls who spend their time casting out DEMONS around the world


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024621/Meet-exorcist-schoolgirls-spend-time-casting-demons-worldwide.html

 

 

 

 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

October 18, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Creature Feature, Editorial, Movies, Opinion

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EDITORIAL: America’s 1970s Health Craze: Death For Dinner

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 Editorial: America’s 1970’s Health Craze: Death For Dinner

America’s

Poison

Food ?

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Consider the possibility, for a moment, that Society’s efforts in the 1970s to “get America healthy” may have inadvertently poisoned our food.

Did we create stronger diseases by misunderstanding nature’s processes?

Then, America’s Health Craze of the 1970s becomes a social fad, rather than a movement. And, the issue of changes in farming practices and the preservatives added to extend the lives of fruits, vegetables and meats should make us wonder what we are really eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

America’s Health Craze in the 1970s took off like a brush fire in a high wind. But, America’s Health Craze spread like an infectious disease that could not be stopped. Time and again people were told if they got “healthy” they would live longer.

1960s’ Bad Health Habits

Rewind to the 1960s. In 1960, many adults smoked cigarettes like choo choo trains and they drank like fish. By the 1960s, it was fairly common knowledge that a chemical known as “Red Dye Number 2” was routinely added to meat to give off a color that shoppers expected their fresh meat in the butcher shop to have.

DDT Outlawed

In the 1960s, DDT had been a popular pesticide that was used to kill insect pests in farm crops. By the 1970s, the serious concerns about the after effects of DDT was getting it off the market quickly and farmers would have to rely on pharmaceutical companies to come up with a safer pesticide.

The 1970s arrived and the American Health Franchises sprang up like Texas oil wells belching crude sky high. As the Ecology Movement and the First Earth Day was gearing up in America, the idea of organic farming and gardening was catching on quickly. Americans wanted “natural” methods used to treat the crops and feed the livestock, which would end up in their supermarkets and on their dinner tables.

From The Soil To The Table

Spade and Seeds – Organic Gardening became popular in the 1970s as Americans sought for natural ways to control insect pests in their gardens without running the risk of endangering the vegetables for the supper table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

While people in the cities were wondering how to “safely” grow their food. Small family farms kept planting their “truck patch” gardens and kept “fattening” up a calf or feeder pig like they had done for generations. The majority of their food came straight from the soil of their gardens to the dinner table.  

Corn in the garden – Home gardeners in Stone County, Missouri use their skill and knowledge of the soil, insects, local wildlife and weather conditions to grow “roasting ears” for the dinner table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.



A farm family’s meat was usually a calf or feeder pig that had been penned up and fed to a given weight. In the fall or the winter, the calf or pig would, then, be “processed” with the pieces of meat being “sugar cured” and hung up in the smokehouse.

Red Angus calf in a pasture on Warren Land – In the 1960s, in Stone County, Missouri, rural farm families would usually select a calf to fatten up and a pig to be a feeder pig for their beef and pork for the winter. By fall or early winter, the animal would be taken to either Crane or Highlandville to the packing plant. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

By the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, the fattened calf or feeder pig would be taken to the Crane or Highlandville packing plants. The meat would be wrapped in paper and readied for families to pick up to put in the freezer until ready for use.

Meanwhile, in American cities in the 1970s, gymnasiums sprouted up like weeds. The enthusiasts were pushing “Running” like carnival barkers at an amusement park. “Jogging” quickly became the fad of the day and by 1973, it seemed everyone in America had a gym membership, polyester headbands, wristbands, jogging suits and sneakers.

Even before critics and legislators went after cigarette smokers and breweries, the health entrepreneurs were churning out everything from powdered health drinks to the “No Pain, No Gain” T Shirts.

The American Health Craze Theory of the 1970s

The theory was America was going to get healthy. Americans would live longer. Some optimists even claimed that most major diseases would be a thing of the past.

In 2011, it seems “America’s Health Craze” was simply a “craze,” that flashed like lightning and disappeared like white shoes, white belts and platform shoes of the 1970s.

American Health Craze Significant Results ?

Americans are still dropping dead of Heart Attacks, Heart Disease and Strokes. Cancer seems even more vicious now than in 1960, or, perhaps, we have felt the need to “segregate” the different types of Cancer into specialized categories

I remember some adults in the 1960s had diabetes, but no one ever said “Type II Diabetes.”

I remember a few overweight people in the 1960s, but, in 2011, it seems “Every American alive has a weight issue from kids to adults.”

Old Timers or Alzheimer ?

In the 1960s, I remember, there were some elderly people who were said to be going senile or had a case of “Old Timers.” The name Alzheimer had not been used yet. I remember very few people who became so stricken that they would be helpless and bed-ridden until death. “Hospice” and “Home Health Care” were unknown terms in the 1960s, especially in southwest Missouri, where rural families looked after one another.

In 2011, Alzheimer seems to have become an accepted step on the road to an elderly death.

If Americans health is getting worse in 2011; what really happened in the 1970s ?

I suspect, two major changes: (1) A Significant Change In Farming Procedures and (2) Preservatives allowed more foods to be stocked on grocery store shelves

In the 1970s, the first heart transplant was performed. It would seem the American Medical Community was on the right track. Where did the American Health Craze Train slam into the mountain?

Why The Change In Farming Procedures ?

The healthy ideas to improve America’s Food Supply may have poisoned it. A farming idea to improve poultry and livestock in the 1970s may have backfired.

Livestock Logic

Livestock gets their nutrients from the soil. Cows eat grass and the nutrients get absorbed into their bodies. Hogs root their noses in the dirt and you can watch them smacking away at insects in the soil. Chickens scratch at the soil and peck their beaks in the dirt. But, the concept of “Confinement Farming of the 1970s” was aimed at changing the traditional approach.

A Red Angus and a Polled Hereford cow in the old tomato field pasture on Warren Land. These cattle are in the pasture that in the 1970s bloomed with “Red Gold of Stone County, Missouri ” – tomatoes. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Poultry Penitentiaries

The poultry change seemed to happen quickly. Chickens and turkeys were no longer free to roam around outside and peck and scratch in the dirt. Suddenly, they were confined into long poultry houses that became Maximum Security Prisons For Poultry. Rows of cages in a controlled environment of heating and cooling. They either laid eggs or remained in their cages until plump enough to be shipped off for “processing.”

Since chickens and turkeys were no longer free to scratch in the soil and absorb minerals into their bodies that would mean that those minerals would have to be artificially induced, either through feed or vaccinations. Nature quit feeding the chickens and the turkeys, who were being raised in controlled “cradle to the grave” environments with no access to nature.

Confinement Farming

My 1970s Ag Ring. Hand model- Samuel E. Warren Jr. Photo by Christy Warren.

I was in the Future Farmers of America and the vocational agriculture courses in the early 1970s. I remember in 1972 information was everywhere about “Confinement Farming,” especially beef cattle. farmers were being encouraged to “confine” their cattle into new styles of barns to restrict and eventually eliminate the livestock’s movement into the outdoors.

On the surface, the idea seemed logical. Data was being distributed that a single cow could eat X amount of pasture that translated into significant amounts of money in terms of acres of pasture needed to feed a cow.

Plus, in the fall and winter, when pasture dies, farmers had to have the money to supply bales of hay to feed their cattle through the winter. A dry spring or summer in southwest Missouri meant local farmers would try to contact farmers in Arkansas or Texas for hay, which then added the cost of transportation to the cost of the hay.

Thus, Confinement Farming would be cheaper and reap more profits faster if cattle were taken out of the field and imprisoned in these barns. It was a hard sell issue. I remember, farm magazine after farm magazine seemed to applaud the ideology because it was aimed at cutting expenses and increasing profits. The obvious size difference of cattle in comparison to chickens was one of the drawbacks to trying to confine cattle into barns from the cradle to the grave production cycle.

In southwest Missouri, in Stone County, cattle are still allowed to graze in pastures. There are no large cattle beef farms or factory farms in southwest Missouri.  In 2011, the majority of Stone County farmers are part-time farmers, who have to have a “day job” to make a living and supply money for farming.

I’ve heard local farmers complain that it seems the state and federal governments are constantly coming up with new laws to force farmers to increase record keeping and vaccinations of beef cattle. The Mad Cow Scare of the 1990s is the supposed justification for the mandated government changes, but the rise in cattle vaccinations began in the 1970s in Stone County, Missouri.  

My mother, a hog farmer, who had a herd of 25 Hampshire, Yorkshire and Duroc hogs in the 1960s and 1970s had begun to complain in the late 1970s that there were fewer “feeder pig” buyers coming to farms to buy the pigs

And, the rumors of hog farmers being forced by the government to adopt the practices of “confinement farming” for hogs was a persistent rumor and concern in the late 1970s.  By the early 1980s, my mother  had sold off the swine and “gotten out of the hog business.”

Beefing Up The Beef”

As a kid, a Black Angus bull normally weighed in about 400 to 500 pounds. In 2011, they seem to look more like 800 pounds. That might not be a problem if the cattle are naturally evolving into bigger beef physiques, but if government regulations are forcing the “beefing up” of bulls, then, essentially you may have the “bodybuilder using steroids issue” being forced on cattle through official channels.

The increased weight could also cause a problem for farmers. If the bigger bulls are being used to service the cows then there is the possibility that the cows will be unable to breed.

Like a woman, it takes a cow nine months to deliver. If a farmer has a cow that does not give birth to a calf or the calf dies then that is a year’s time plus a year’s food and water is wasted. In a herd of 25 or more cattle, you multiply the sterile or still births and the outcome is a farmer is facing the real possibility of bankruptcy.

The irony is that Black Angus was always a favored breed among local farmers because the calves were born small and naturally and quickly grew to a respectable size for beef to be taken to the market in a short period of time in comparison to other breeds of cattle.

Pork Prisons

Once the move to imprison turkeys and chickens had caught on and the idea to confine cattle seemed to be catching on , then, the experts focused on hogs. Again, the solution was essentially the same as with cattle. Confine the hogs to a building to reduce the amount of pasture needed and increase profits quickly by fattening up the hogs and getting them processed quicker.

While a cow chews the grass in a pasture, a hog roots their snout deep into the dirt and enthusiastically consumes the minerals in their mouths. Experts may not have realized the importance of the minerals being naturally consumed. Hogs will also find a shade in a hollow and lie on beds of dead leaves or root up the dirt to create a hog wallow, where they can roll in the dirt to refresh themselves.

After a rain, they will wallow in these ruts and cover themselves with mud to stay cool, during a hot day. Since hogs root under fences in search of earthworms, grub worms and plant roots, farmers would put a ring in their noses to keep the swine in their own pastures. Hogs always seemed committed to making a major environmental impact on nature.

Experts’ theory was that hogs could be kept in buildings with concrete floors that would be easy to clean. No longer able to root around over acres of land, the cradle to grave production cycle of hogs would result in savings to farmers who wouldn’t need acres of land to raise herds of hogs.

However, the inability of hogs to root in the ground and wallow in the pasture to interact with nature would mean that the swine would have to receive the minerals artificially in the feed or through shots.

Another benefit of the hog confinement operation over the traditional hog farm was: The Smell. Growing up on a hog farm you learn quickly that hog manure has a distinctive strong odor and if the wind shifts toward your nose, then, you have no doubt you are on a hog farm. Confinement farming of hogs solved the problem of neighbors’ sensitive noses and local planning and zoning regulations.

Vegan Victims ?

Vegans and vegetarians are not immune to the changes in farming. Without livestock in the pasture to continue Nature’s chain of recycling; there has to be a way to replenish the soil. In southwest Missouri in the 1960s, farmers basically relied on the Holy Bible instructions of farming a piece of land for six years and letting it lie “fallow” – unused for the seventh year.

Burning Brush

While the land laid unploughed and unplanted for a year, brush was cut off of the land. Farmers would then choose a calm evening in the fall and stand watch as they burned the brush piles. Burning the brush piles, destroyed winter habitats for snakes, chiggers and ticks, while the burned woods would contribute minerals back into the soil to promote pasture growth in the coming year.

In 2011, in Stone County, Missouri, local farmers haven’t burned any of their brush piles for years. Natural decay of dead leaves and rotting wood takes years to return the minerals to the soil. Spring and Summer of 2011, I have noticed several snakes on the land and the number of ticks seem overwhelming just by walking through the yard.

Without brush being burned to put minerals back into the soil, some local farmers have to resort to buying chemical fertilizers to spread on their pastures to promote the growth of grasses. Thus, minerals have to be artificially replaced into the soil for livestock to consume.

Usually cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, and goats would digest the nutrients in their bodies and return the digested waste in the form of manure to the pasture, thus, Nature’s fertilizer would break down and naturally feed the plants and grasses.

Once poultry and livestock were taken out of pastures and confined on concrete floor rather than the earth, then, of course, alternative fertilizers had to be added to the soil. Plus, without getting the minerals naturally from nature meant that the poultry and livestock would have to receive the nutrients through either feed or shots.

Vaccinations for Disease not Vitamins

In the 1960s, farmers usually vaccinated their livestock to prevent or quickly stop the spread of a possible disease. In 2011, I’ve noticed that farmers seem to be required to give their cattle a series of seemingly never ending vaccinations.

Danger of Preservatives ?

The real issue of the distances of geography in the United States means that businesses have to have a solution to keep food “fresh” from the pastures to the market. While the government seemed to support the “confinement farming” concept, there would also have to be a way to try and preserve “freshness” in the foods until they reach their destinations.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is the agency that is charged with trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work when it comes to food and drugs. The fanatic push of health enthusiasts of the 1970s had to have FDA officials and Department of Agriculture inspectors under the gun to get healthy produce on the shelves quickly.

In the 1970s it seemed almost every week there was a new powdered health drink going on the shelves that suggested it could turn 98-pound weaklings into buff bodybuilders and do it healthy. Perhaps, rigorous testing was done, but, the persistent push for healthy foods quickly expanded the ingredients labels on boxes to include a plethora of words that read more like the periodic table of elements rather than natural ingredients.

Personal Conclusion

The claims of the American Health Craze of the 1970s were that by living healthy and eating healthy fruits, meat and vegetables, Americans would live longer and not have the debilitating diseases and health problems of their parents and grandparents.

Yet, in 2011, I notice that virtually every American wrestles with weight issues in their lives. Middle age and senior Americans visit their doctors to be put on diets to control their blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, calories, weight and the amount of salt in their diets. I don’t remember hearing adults in the 1960s routinely going to their doctors for diets.

Vegetables Grow In The Garden – In the 1960s, Stone County farm families usually picked their vegetables straight out of the garden and took them into the kitchen to wash, clean and cook for the evening’s dinner table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Personally, my parents and grandmother seemed healthier physically than middle age, senior and, even the younger people that I see on the sidewalk.

Vegetable Row In The Garden – In 2011, Americans and Missourians, who live in major metropolitan cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson City, Springfield, Republic,Nixa and Branson may have to rely on supermarkets for fresh fruits, meats and vegetables. In rural communities like Galena, Abesville, Crane and Reeds Spring, southwest Missouri residents can “go to the garden” and pick their produce. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

There is even news stories in 2011 of how medical officials are suggesting to legislators to pass laws to remove children from their parents because the kids are “obese.” The irony is the issue may be that Society is responsible for the childrens’ weight gain overall and not necessarily the parents.

In the 1900s, arsenic was used to kill pests on tomato plants. A buildup of arsenic in the body leads to death, thus, people quit using arsenic to kill off tomato plant pests.

Buying bottled water, counting calories, watching the cholesterol number, jogging and working out on a regular basis to live longer may not mean much if we are all eating poisoned food on a regular basis that have added preservatives and artificially substituted synthetic minerals rather than natural minerals from the earth.

The irony of America’s Health Craze of the 1970s is in our enthusiasm to get healthy and live longer, we may have created new health problems, increased old ones and essentially “poisoned our own food supply” by trying to take short cuts to produce healthier meat, fruits and vegetables while trying to make more money quicker for businesses within the overall food processing system.

Bon Appetite !

Sam

Story Sources

Confinement Farming – Factory Farming – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_farming

DDT – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT

Mad Cow Disease – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_spongiform_encephalopathy

Written by samwarren55

July 18, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Posted in Editorial, Family, HEALTH, Opinion, Photos

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