Book Release: Harvest Stories of Wheat Threshing

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Illustration: Morphart/Fotolia
Wheat threshing was a collaborative effort, as the harvest stories from Robert Rhode's book show.

The Harvest Story: Recollections of Old-Time Threshermen, by Robert T. Rhode, tells the epic tale of wheat threshing in
turn-of-the-century North America. This book gathers into a
coherent recitation over fifty volumes of harvest stories and other material published in the
Iron Men Album magazine from 1946 until the present. From
this rich mine, the author has distilleda complex, fascinating story about America’s past: of hard but honest
work, of heartfelt cooperation, of triumph not un-marred by tragedy. Readers feel
a child’s excitement as threshing day dawns, participate in the
labor and practical jokes of the crew, and respect the power of the
reliable, but sometimes dangerous, steam engines. With the
author’s skillful arrangement of the material, explanations,
and photographs from his private collection, we come to share the
‘iron men’s’ solid values.

Robert T. Rhode was born on a farm near Pine Village in
northwestern Indiana. Every summer from the time he was one year
old, he went with his parents to the Central States Threshermen’s Reunion at Pontiac, Illinois. There, he came to
appreciate the North American agricultural heritage. His
great-uncle ran steam traction engines; his father grew up during
the steam era and helped his uncle run engines; and his mother
remembered playing on steam engines parked in the factory yard of
the Keck-Gonnerman Company, manufacturers of threshing equipment,
in her hometown of Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

Rhode is a professor of English at Northern Kentucky University
and, for eleven years, he directed NKU’s Honors Program for
gifted students. He has published fifty articles on agricultural
literature and history. He owns a 65-horsepower J. I. Case
agricultural traction engine (serial number 35654) built in 1923,
which he regularly exhibits at threshing reunions. FC

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