The Farm is a Dangerous Place

Iowa man recalls horrific encounter with bluegress stripper

Duane King sits approximately where he and his brother, Dean, were sitting when a bluegrass stripper violently jerked and sent Duane flying over the stripper which then ran over him, the spinning drum of nails chewing his body to shreds. The strippers were manufactured in Maryville, Mo. Photograph taken in Rush Museum, Griswold, Iowa

In June 2019, Farm Collector published an article by Don McKinley on bluegrass strippers. It was an article that resonated with many of our readers, but none more than Duane King. 

Just looking at one of the machines would convince a person that there is no way to live through such an experience. More than 200 spike nails grinding on a body at high speed should mark the end of life. Yes, it should, but I believe God did a miracle that day.

A simple movement magnified into tragedy

It was probably 1945. I think I was 7 years old. My brother, Dean (8 years older than me) and I had joined our dad to strip bluegrass seed just north of our farmhouse west of Skidmore, Missouri. Bill Coston was the entrepreneur who loaned us three bluegrass strippers that Dad fastened in tandem behind our John Deere tractor.

The three made quite a wide swath through the field. When time came to empty the strippers, Dean and I helped Dad so that time was not wasted. Rain or darkness would put a sudden stop to bluegrass stripping. We needed the 5 to 10 cents per pound that we might receive from the seed; the amount depended upon the year.

Duane as a boy, before his tragic encounter with the bluegrass stripper.


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