11834 Park Ct. Maryland Heights, Missouri 63043
Others before me used these columns too, in the Iron Men Album, to spread the word about their liking for threshing wheat, sawing lumber or what have you.
Passing years have a way of mellowing the unpleasant, leaving behind our liking for some thing or things that become precious memories. Recollections from the early years of my life when I was joyfully involved with the steam traction engine are now precious memories. Contributing factors were: I was raised on a farm and my father was a thresherman.
I had little in common with the farm, but I did have a strong liking for the summertime harvest of small grain like wheat and oats. I endured the winters. I almost hated school, but I have since come to see that those were the most trouble-free years of my life. It was after winter, when its snow and cold had passed, that I began to shine. The warm sunshine in late spring and early summer gave me a shot in the arm. It became 'glory' for me as the grain ripened in the warm sun.
Cutting wheat was most likely just another farm chore for most people, but I welcomed it with open arms. As the binder made its rounds, the sickle cutting a wide swath of ripened straw and grain, the land became smaller as the shocks grew in number until shocks were everywhere. Those were the great days for me and joy was everywhere. Hallelujah! Soon wheat cutting would be over and as the grain stood drying in the shock I was pretty near living 'on high.' There was then a kind of farm folks' vacation. Everywhere, everyone was in a jolly good mood. For me then life was like living 'high on the hog.' That summer's threshing season was about to begin.
When the starting day was at hand I was up before the chickens. I had waited a whole year for that day. My father, a long time thresherman, furnished everything for the farmer's threshing job except the coal and feed for the teams so the farmers had fun too. No fuss. No bother. Just haul the threshed kernels of grain to the mill.
I remember how the whole countryside was gleeful with no one displaying a frown. What a day it was, especially for the kids, when the threshing crew came to their farm. Even their dogs ran out to bark. Well the years came and went and, to my sorrow, the combine became the victor and one day my most cherished endeavor was no more. Let's face it, though. The steam traction engine had a tremendous fascination. Many were caught in its fold. Most were never quite able to forget. The threshing scene was more of a frolic. Many came just to watch and talk. They were mostly farm people. They probably talked about most things in their life and they had a good time. Have you ever known of people driving out to a combining to have a visit and a frolic? A few times I have seen one in operation, in a field adjacent to the roadway along which I was traveling, and it mostly reminded me of a nineteen-thirties Kansas dust storm.
I am now at the 83rd milepost along my life's way. I have never been able to quite find anything, of a material nature, as fascinating as the reciprocating steam engine. To date there has never been a method of small grain harvest as colorful and as fascinating as the grain binder, the stationary thresher and the steam traction engine. One day I will be forced to give up the ghost and bid this life farewell, but I still remember how I loved 'threshing out the sheaves.'