First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid

By the time you receive this issue, the morel
mushroom season should be underway, at least in the Midwest.
Mushrooming is an old farm-country tradition, one of the few that
endures. Community threshing, square dances at the Grange hall and
township-wide wolf hunts are, for the most part, victims of
progress. But mushrooms exert a powerful pull. After the first
stretch of warm days and nights, on a sunny day following a gentle
May shower, folks of the mushroom persuasion tend to disappear for
hours at a time.

Many try to cover their tracks with fairly lame alibis. Others,
particularly those who’ve found enough fungus to fill a few bread
bags, will actually admit what they were up to. (“We were
swimming in them
,” crowed one hunter as he described a
respectable haul.) But none will divulge the location of the
hunting grounds. Marry into a mushroom-hunting family, and years
could pass before the family patriarch stops transporting you to
the site blindfolded. This is serious business, the kind of thing
prenuptial agreements were designed for.

During mushroom season, friends of long-standing can become
rivals. I recall a pair I once knew, two men, practically blood
brothers, and both mushroom hunters. One season, one of the men was
awash in morels. His pal, however, struck out. The first fellow,
feeling as flush as the guy with the winning lottery ticket,
invited a dozen friends – including his hapless buddy – to a
mushroom fry. Just before the guests arrived, the host selected a
half dozen of the largest mushrooms from his haul – the kind that
are about six inches tall – and “planted” them under a tree just
off his patio. Space and propriety do not allow me to relate the
entirety of the buddy’s reaction as he first spotted the fungus,
went on point, and then realized he’d been had. Suffice to say he
found perhaps less humor in the scene than did his fellow
guests.

What’s that have to do with antique farm equipment? Not a lot …
unless you’re one of the lucky few who’ve stumbled onto one of
those exceptionally rare antique mushroom harvesters. We’ve just
about completed restoration on ours and are looking forward to
trying it out any day now. So if you call and no one picks up: Be
patient. We’re just doing some field research!

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment