Book Review: “Man With Farm Seeks Woman With Tractor, The Best And Worst Personal Ads Of All Time,” by Laura Schaefer


by Kathy Megyeri

Book review: "Man With Farm Seeks Woman With Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time" by Laura Schaefer

This book, “Man With Farm Seeks Woman With Tractor, The Best And Worst Personal Ads Of All Time,” by Laura Schaefer, is hilarious. Personals are a great source of entertainment and they’ve been around since the 18th century. In 1727, a brave young woman in Manchester, England took out the first notice for a husband, and by the end of the 19th century, such ads were common. Whole publications were devoted to romantic and marriage-minded classifieds. Now personal ads are one of the most profitable web applications and ads are mainstream. 

Take out an ad in Lifestyles After 50’s personals section: Seniors Getting Together

Laura Schaefer, also author of “The Teashop Girls,” “The Secret Ingredient,” and “Notes To Self For Young Adults,” collected 200 examples of personal ads from English and American publications including historical newspapers and modern websites. Schaefer divides the ads into 11 chapters by type: self-deprecating or desperate, poetic, bizarre, truly sweet, awfully picky or just plain strange. For example: 

  • A hippie doing time in San Quentin seeks “chicks that aren’t hung up on middle-class American type life.”
  • The parents of a sickly 21-year-old want a benevolent doctor for their daughter.  
  • A 70-year-old German baron who owns a castle wants a 16-20 year-old girl.  
  • A man with a glass eye is looking for a woman “who also has a glass eye or some other deformity not more severe.”  
  • One woman wrote, “Please have all or most of your teeth; hair is optional.” 

Still, my favorite ad supplied author Schaefer with the title of her book, and it actually did appear in the March 5, 1957, Indiana Evening Gazette: “Bachelor with 40 acres of excellent land would like to make acquaintance of lady with tractor, matrimony in mind. Please send picture of tractor.”

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Most people write (or read) personal ads because they’re looking for a date or because they’re curious to know what people around them are looking for. Most ads are a rich source of social history that reflect their times and reveal the social mores of the era.  

One reader admitted to ordering multiple copies of this book because visitors to her home flipped through her copy and read so many entries out loud. The diverse selections are mostly humorous, bittersweet, and romantic, which make the book a perfect Valentine’s Day gift. says, “This book will give you plenty of fun tidbits to throw into a conversation during your next online date.”  

Some things change and others stay the same throughout the years. Personal ads and the media have evolved, and the terminology has changed, but the basic underlying idea that everyone is looking for ultimate happiness with “The One” remains the same. As Shaefer concludes, “Perhaps we can’t yet buy love, but good ad space is probably the next best thing.”

Get “Man With Farm Seeks Woman With Tractor” on Amazon here.