Tazewell County Olde Threshers Association: Three-Way Threshing!

Bound and shocked

Bound and shocked, waiting for the big day.

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Rt #2, Box 30 Tremont, Illinois 61568

Three separators: 22' McCormick-Deering, 28' Wood Bros., and 32' Keck-Gonnerman.

I guess I've gotten a bad reputation around the Tazewell County Olde Threshers Association, especially among the wives. I'm the one who's constantly spotting those rare 'gotta have' machines their hubbys have been dreaming about. I'm sure some actually dread to hear my voice on the phone, thinking, 'Well, Thompson's found another piece of junk!' The result: home repairs have to wait while money is scared up for the one-of-a-kind find, and the wife doesn't see her husband again for a month!

Such was the case when I 'found' Mark Fehr a McCormick-Deering 22' Separator that would perfectly match his F-20. Vernon 'Butch' Koch had purchased a Keck-Gonnerman 32' Thresher some twenty years ago, and after two years of pestering on my part finally got her pulled out and into shape.

With my 28' Wood Bros. Thresher, that made three machines. Someone then got the cockeyed notion of threshing with all three machines at that summer's show (I wonder who!). What an idea! Had it ever been done in Illinois? Three threshers running at once! We had to do it.

After weeks of scraping, patching and mending we were ready to go for a trial run the day before the show. All three ran beautifully with only minor adjustments! What a sight!

Friday night I nearly had a heart failure. We live four miles from the show site on the Alvin Beutel farm.

Imagine my horror when a gigantic storm front crashed down upon us, dumping 4' of rain in hour! I called Al and told him I feared the worst for our four acres of shocked oats, when he said, 'Whattaya mean? We only had a light sprinkle here!' Reprieved!

Saturday dawned hot. Real hot! It was 100 degrees by 11:00 a.m., but the crowd was enthusiastic and the turnout was incredible for such a scorching day. The gas engine people immediately staked out the shady parts of the fruit orchard and shade trees, and soon were shelling corn, running washing machines, pumping water and generally making sweet exhaust music.

The tractor boys turned out in great force and were soon lined up in dazzling rows of John Deere green, IHC & Massey red, Minnie-Mo yellow, AC orange, Case grey, and so on and so on. Soon they were turning over long slabs of black earth with 2 and 3 bottom plows.

The beautiful Belgian draft horses seemed oblivious to the heat as they toyed with the bundle wagons on which the men were loading a mountain of golden shocked oats. Soon the threshing began. Claude Troyer's 22 HP Keck-Gonnerman steamer laid into its work on its counterpart thresher with a vengeance. Bill Mugler belted up his 22-36 onto the Wood Bros., followed by Bob Dietrich's Allis-U.C; then Butch Koch's Minneapolis U settled into the belt to stay. After a few false starts, even the 22' McCormick got into the act. But even the best-laid plans...

We couldn't seem to get all three machines going at once. Soon as one got wound up, a chain would break on the other. Finally about 2:00 p.m., covered with sweat and chaff, we were pitching bundles into all three machines, and how the straw did fly! Soon, however, those ominous clouds returned, and we were treated to a heavenly cool drizzle. The relief was short lived, though, when two machines plugged! Ten more minutes and we would've been done!

We shut down the ol' Keck and started pitching the remaining bundles onto one wagon. It stopped raining. Someone suggested 'Hey, let's finish these up!' And then a typhoon broke loose driving gales of wind and rain everyplace! People scattered and everyone made for tarps to cover exhibits as the heavens opened. Seven or eight of us sought shelter under a small tent and for awhile wondered whether we would be sucked into the sky to the Land of Oz!

Then, suddenly as it came, the sky cleared and things settled down in time for us to hold our annual Threshers' Dinner after the show. I don't know when I've seen folks more ravenously wolf down food such as roast beef, bowls of potatoes and beans, loaves of bread and whole pies, all of which disappeared as if by magic! The old camaraderie of the Threshing Ring was still alive and well. The most amazing thing was, everyone was anxiously making plans to do it all again next year!

Hope to see you the first Saturday of August!