By Dolores Bader

It all started with what I considered huge statistics about hot dogs and T-shirts. A Courier article July 1 claims that the number of custom printed T shirts in the U.S. today is triple the nation’s population. Add to that the off-the rack and shelf variety and you are into enourmous numbers. Then came a Today Show report saying Americans would consume 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July. It was Google time; time to check a few statistics.

In November of 2012 the population of the United States was 314.69 million people. Take that  times three for the T-shirts and you have Big Business. The hot dog figure doesn’t seem so bad in comparison, but it should still keep pork and chicken producers happy. One of the things that surprised me was the comparison to population figures from July of 2000. At that time the figure stood at 286.16 million. That’s a pretty good jump in a short span of time.

Actually had it not been for the great picture of Keith Sandvold, a ball playing buddy of my sons in the “good old days” I probably wouldn’t have read the story about the 100th birthday of the T-shirt. Did you know that it was first produced by the U.S. Navy in 1913 to be worn under the uniforms of sailors? That sounds like a quiz show question! Here is another thought: think what the yearly pile of new T-shirts means to the cotton farmers of this country! Mid-westerners tend to think of farming in terms of com and beans, beef and hot dogs. We forget what our lives would be like without fruit, vegetables, peanuts and cotton. Sugar, honey and salt don’t get to market on their own either.

As I put these words in print, across the drive they are baling hay. The path from field to market is long and complex, even when a satellite programs the machinery. The burger or steak on your grill has a complicated history. The bun you are about to butter is evidence of a western wheat field. Count your blessings: the year the T-shirt was created would probably have found you in the barn…and not with a milking machine, just a pail.