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Supplying Information to the Enemy

When a German spy put ashore on Long Island by a U-boat was apprehended by the FBI, a copy of the Almanac was found in his pocket. Our government then decided that either the Almanac should be banned or the word "forecasts" should be eliminated.

Credit: AP/Wide World Photos
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Here's a true story from the The Old Farmer's Almanac archives.

The FBI apprehended a German spy on a train going into New York City's Penn Station sometime during 1942. He'd landed on Long Island from a U-boat the night before. In the German's coat pocket was the 1942 edition of The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Why were the Germans interested in the Almanac?

Who knows? (Maybe they liked the jokes.) But the U.S. government speculated that the Germans might be using it for the weather forecasts. In other words, the Almanac was supplying valuable information to the enemy!

Robb Sagendorph, the eleventh editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac, was always of the opinion that it was the tide tables the Germans had used. "Then again," he'd usually add, "maybe it was the forecasts. After all, the Germans went on to lose the war."

In any event, Sagendorph managed to get the government to agree that there would be no violation of the "Code of Wartime Practices for the American Press" if the Almanac featured weather indications rather than forecasts.

It was a close call that almost ruined the Almanac's perfect record of continuous publication.

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