Baling Hay in the 1940s: Hay Baler Earned Its Vicious Reputation
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That was emergency time. Jump up from the blocker’s seat, run back, wrestle, pry and kick the block loose just in time to fly back and ram it home while Dad watched with limited confidence.
Stepping up to the plate
Did I ever do those things? I’ll never forget the first time. We had a deep belly hunger as kids – not only for meat and gravy and potatoes, but for anything, anything that would mark us as ready to be men.
When I was asked as a young teenager to take one of those seats at the side of the baler, I didn’t hesitate. I was tying wires! I was determined to do it, and do it well. I’d watched others, so why not me?
There was no pause between being asked and sitting down. The wires came sliding through the blocks; I grabbed and pulled and tied, and did it again and again until my hands felt hot and sticky. Looking down, I saw my skin torn and bloody. The wires had sharp ends where the machine-made loops ended. The wire itself, if handled barehanded long enough, could cut.
I’d never owned a good pair of leather gloves, an absolute must for a tie man. In my enthusiasm to do a man’s work, I didn’t think of gloves. I went away bloody and shamed, but proud to have been there. FCDale Geise is a retired educator who grew up on a farm near Underwood in southwest Iowa. Contact him at 1051 X Ave., Boone, IA 50036; (515) 292-5533; e-mail: email@example.com. Reprinted with permission from the September 1998 issue of Looking Back magazine, House of White Birches publishers, Berne, IN 46711.
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