With the entry in April, 1917 of the United States into World War One, for security reasons the Navy prohibited all private ownership of radio receivers, for the duration of the war. One of the unfortunate side effects of this policy was to shut down the weather report reception reported on in this article.
The Electrical Experimenter, July, 1917, page 189:
How Radio Brought the News to the Farm
WEATHER reports, market quotations and world news daily by wireless telegraph, such is the innovation which makes the farm and the work of Archie Banks, of Delmar, Iowa, of more than ordinary interest. The last vestige of isolation and aloofness from the world has been banished from the farm by this young Iowan. Back of his achievements lies a story of determination which should be an inspiration to all.
Eight years ago Archie Banks was a sixteen-year-old boy, living on the farm of his father, a well-known live stock farmer. The boy had always been interested in machinery and mechanical matters, but met with little encouragement along this line from his parents. He might never have had an opportunity to develop his latent talents had it not been for an accident. One day, in working about her household task, the boy's mother knocked off the telephone batteries.
"Central told her how to connect them up again and she did so," says Mr. Banks. "I happened to come in then and she told me what she had done. Of course, I wanted to see if she did it right. I was promptly told to run along and that what I knew about telephone batteries wouldn't bother anyone. Well, I made up my mind I would know something about them, and I set to work studying everything I could get hold of--books, magazines and catalogs. In a year I had the house wired from cellar to garret, and lighted with electric lights run from batteries. Two years afterward I had a small wireless built, but it would not work well. All I could do was to talk to Delmar, a mile away. I determined to do better, and so I set to work again."
This second time the boy was more successful, so that today he has installed in the twelve-room farmhouse, a mile from Delmar and about eight miles from Maquoketa, a complete wireless telegraph outfit, by which he receives weather forecasts and news bulletins twice a day from the wireless stations connected with the Illinois State Agricultural College, at Springfield, and the Iowa State Agricultural College, at Ames. (Prior to the war of course). Weather reports are sent out by these stations every day at noon, while news bulletins and the events of the world are sent twice a day--at noon and again at 8:30 in the evening.
But Mr. Banks did not stop with this. He did not believe in being selfish. He had this news service himself; why not share it with friends, neighbors and passers-by? Accordingly, the weather forecasts and the news bulletin were telephoned from his farmhouse to whoever desired to receive them, the climatic changes being known for a radius of ten or fifteen miles, long in advance, by means of this excellent service. Farmers who live near Mr. Banks did not have to wait for the belated newspaper which the R. F. D. carrier delivered to see what the weather would likely be the next few hours; they were not caught unprepared by any sudden and unpredicted change in temperature; a minute at the rural telephone, to secure proper connections with the Banks farmhouse, and the weather forecast was known by them as promptly as it was known by the man in the city, with the daily paper laid on his desk but a few minutes after it had left the press.
This is not all, however. As one drives toward or from Delmar, along the road which leads by the Banks home, he comes suddenly upon a large sign stretched across the road, a board sign eight feet long and two feet high, upon which is painted, in large words, this placard: "Eat honey, For sale here. Today's weather report by wireless on next curve. Archie Banks." A few rods further on, at the first turn in the road stands the large bulletin board, eight feet high by five feet broad. Up on it Mr. Banks used to post the weather forecasts and the news bulletin, each day, just as soon as they were received. Whoever drove by the Banks' home got the news of the world as promptly and as accurately as the city man got it from reading the bulletin board of the metropolitan newspaper office.
All this is not without its business effect. Mr. Banks (now twenty-four years of age and farming for himself) owns and operates a farm of 160 acres, carrying on a general farming business. He has two particular hobbies, however--electricity and bees. Prior to December 10, he had sold almost 3,000 pounds of honey last year; he could sell much more if he had it, for his honey is of good uniform quality, and Delmar is in the midst of a rich honey section, many carloads being shipt from there to all points east and west. Passers-by who would stop at the Banks' home to read the bulletin board, or to inspect the wireless plant, bought honey and thus came to be regular customers of the apiary, adding to a sideline income, which has already begun to assume large proportions. There was no thought of the business possibilities of his wireless service when it was first inaugurated, but there is a close connection between the two, without a shade of doubt.
Nor must it be thought that Archie Banks is not a genuine farmer; he is in love today with farm life and with the beautiful farm which he bought of his father, with the big twelve-room house set in its grove of maples and elms 100 feet back from the road, with one room given over to the wireless outfit, which brings that particular farm into touch with all the outside world.
"The wireless station is about as complete as I can make it," says Mr. Banks. "I have copied messages from Darien, Panama; Hanover, Germany; Mare Island, and San Diego, California; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Arlington, Virginia; New York City, and all over the world. I received New York messages so loud that the signals could be heard all over my house, which is of twelve rooms."