When I was a child, two things always heralded the impending holiday season: the arrival of Sears Christmas Catalog and Grier’s Almanac. When those things hit the mailbox, we knew the time of the rolling year was nigh whether we were ready or not. Bank calendars and other mailed promotions came and went with the decades. There was something comforting about the dependable continuity of receiving annual publications from Sears and Grier’s. Alas, Sears axed the catalogs in the early 1990s. Then, this year, Grier’s faded into the past as well.
A few weeks ago, I checked the USPS’s Informed Delivery service. One of the few good things Trumpkin Postmaster General DeJoy has done is create a service of scanned letters out for delivery, so you can see what your mail is for the day. It’s an excellent way to check for arriving packages or to prepare yourself for damnation via the mails. I saw one envelope from Grier’s and figured it was my yearly almanac. Instead, it was heartbreaking news.
Now, that made the end of 2021 just a little more awful.
Grier’s started publication in 1807. For 215 years, Grier’s Alamac was distributed free of charge. No matter how far-flung on the frontier, Grier’s boasted the almanac was in every home along with the family Bible. At one time, an almanac was vital to growing crops and keeping time. Farmers used the almanacs to keep track of seasonal planting times, scheduled planting during certain phases of the moon, and when the moon was in a particular sign of the Zodiac in hope of a good crop. The little publication included tide calculation charts and weather predictions for the coming year. It was an indispensable book, usually with a hole in the left top corner for hanging on a nail near the farmhouse door.
Almanacs had another use: mail order. Companies advertised everything from farm equipment, to livestock, to patent medicine cures. Distant homesteads now connected by the mails could make purchases and have them delivered without traveling. Though the decades passed and our agrarian culture dwindled, it remained an enduring, if anachronistic, publication. The arrival of a yearly almanac was a cherished and comforting tradition.
Reading my notice from the Grier’s, I was stunned to find the almanac’s two-century run had abruptly ended. The current owner Dudley Bryan Bachler died unexpectedly of a massive coronary at age 66 in January 2021. His wife’s family owned Grier’s, and she inherited it upon her father’s death. Bryan, a lover of Georgia history, took over the publication to keep the almanac tradition alive. With his death, the family pulled the plug.
I will undoubtedly miss the annual “Church Days and Holidays” column that separates Episcopal and Catholic church days because they are different. The obscure trivia I read daily under “Various Phenomena & Chronological Events” will no longer entertain me. Most of all, I will miss the ads for old-time quack medicines and the mysterious powers offered by various hoodoo curios. Those fascinated me as a child and still give me that comforting feeling of nostalgia.
Below is a gallery of some of Grier’s ads. I’m glad I’ve saved a few vintage copies to look back on occasionally. Thanks for 215 years, Grier’s. I will miss you.