Threshing Outfit

The Andy Winter's Threshing Outfit. Picture taken by Andy September 1913, six miles west of Yellow Grass, Sask., Canada. Cock 'o the North Engine and Case separator. Archie Wanamaker, separator man; Martin Miller, water hauler; Chas. Genter, engineer.


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Box 10, Byron, Oklahoma

In a previous letter, I once expressed the wish that someone would write a book on the part hobos played in the harvesting and threshing of grain on the great plains. Since then, I got 'Beggars of Life' by Jim Tully, a well-written book but he deals practically altogether with bums and tramps. The working hobos usually resented being called a bum or tramp. As a rule they were good workers and some were entertaining companions.

Among my dearest wishes is one that I might meet once again, some of those hobos and spend a few hours of chinfest. I'm enclosing some chaff from the old straw pile, on the hobos.

To be frank, it's not the kind of word picture I wanted to paint of the old-time hobos, but it was the only thing that would come out of my mental blower. I feel that it's too sentimental and repetitious, but can't improve it.

All of us old timers have nostalgic memories of seasons long gone. To me, the best picture that hangs on memory's wall is the season of 1913. I worked through harvest for Wilbur Perkins, southeast of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada. After harvest, I ran an engine through threshing for Andy Winters, who lived west of the town.

The engine was a Cock 'O' The North, built by the American-Ables Co. and pulling a 40' Case Separator.

Andy didn't run a cook shack and we boarded with the farmers and did they feed us!-I think everyone butchered a hog just before threshing. Practically always, for dinner and supper there were two kinds of pie and often the same of cake, then too a lunch was brought out mid A. M. and that was a meal in itself.

There was a bunk car, but as I had to have an alarm clock to get me out at 4o'clock, I slept in the haymows.

Archie Wanamaker, the separator man, carried a violin and many a night I was lulled to sleep by the rhythm of old time tunes. Archie was a quiet, soft spoken chap who always called a separator a 'mill' and pronounced in away that sounded something like 'mwill', but in a way that gave the word a pleasing, melodious sound.

Another pleasant memory is carrying the ever needed lantern and trudging across prairie or stubble to the engine and watch the play of the Northern Lights. (No Honey, I didn't carry the lantern in order to see the lights).

Perkins and Andy were fine fellows to work for one couldn't ask for better. I have a very pleasant memory of the Canadian people I met, and liked them fine.

Now I could go on and on in regard to that season, but better leave the space for someone else, so will close with this toast:

Here's to the smell of cylinder oil, The odor of smoke and steam, And here's to a snack in the old cook shack And the ghost of a thresher's dream!