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Between the Bookends: An Interview with Harold Brock and Memories of a Farm Kitchen

Author Photo
By Farm Collector | Sep 30, 2010

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An Interview with Harold Brock, Chief Designer for the 9N Tractor, by Rob Rinaldi, DVD, two-hour interview plus bonus slide show. 
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Memories of a Farm Kitchen, by Bob Artley and Rob Artley.
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“Every farm kitchen of the late 1800s and early 1900s was dominated by a large cook stove or range that had a prominent position in the spacious kitchen. This friendly monster had its ‘tenders’ who fed the fuel into the firebox and shook the grate on which the fire burned to clear the ash and clinkers down into the ash pan. … And of course these ‘tenders’ to the range were expected to carry in split wood, corncobs and coal to satisfy the voracious appetite of this friendly monster that in turn cooked meals to satisfy appetites.”

First-person accounts of the early days of farm equipment manufacture are very hard to come by. That’s what makes an interview with Harold Brock especially remarkable. Brock was a student in the Ford Trade & Apprentice School in 1929 when he chose an engineering curriculum. His instructor? Henry Ford, his apprentice foreman.
Brock’s amazing career as chief designer of the 9N tractor and later work at Deere & Co. is recounted in a video interview produced by Rob Rinaldi of N-News. The casual, relaxed interview format allows Brock ample opportunity to recall career highlights and historic moments.
Afforded a front row seat during a historically significant period, Brock won a unique view of the evolution of farm equipment manufacture in America. He worked for a man who counted Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver among his contemporaries, and even witnessed the famous handshake agreement between Ford and Harry Ferguson.
Brock recalls Ford as a master mechanic, a brilliant inventor and a stern taskmaster who saw little reason for engineers and designers to earn more than factory workers. He resisted the use of paper documentation, believed in experimentation (“Don’t believe everything you read in books,” he’d say) and had an insatiable desire to eliminate animal power from agriculture.
An Interview with Harold Brock is an easy way to zoom in on a fascinating chapter in the history of mechanized agriculture. Look forward to hearing stories you’ve not heard before!
An Interview with Harold Brock, Chief Designer for the 9N Tractor, by Rob Rinaldi, DVD, two-hour interview plus bonus slide show, $26.95, available through Farm Collector Books.

Bob Artley’s newest book, Memories of a Farm Kitchen, celebrates the heart of the farm home of yesteryear in the same warm style that is the trademark of his earlier books. Presented as a sort of oversize sketchbook interspersed with his watercolor paintings, the book reminisces and reflects on the kitchen in an era predating the microwave oven, the electric mixer and the bread machine (not to mention running water and electricity).
Detailing every aspect of the Midwestern farm season by season, Once Upon a Farm surely remains Artley’s masterpiece. In Memories of a Farm Kitchen, the artist (whose cartoon Memories of a Former Kid is featured on page 2 of each issue of Farm Collector) remembers the many and varied operations that took place in the kitchen. Not limited to food preparation and preservation, the humble space also served as emergency clinic, nursery for newborn livestock and fowl, laundry headquarters, desk and family gathering place.
“It was the time of year before the heating stove had been set up in the living room, so we were all gathered in the kitchen, made cozy by the crackling fire in the range,” Artley writes. “Dean and I were doing our homework under Mom’s supervision; Dad was reading to our younger brother, Dan. A big dishpan of popcorn sat on the table … I remember the feeling of security in our cozy kitchen on that particular stormy night.”
Memories of a Farm Kitchen summons up the past in detailed notes and drawings. But if you’d like a more tangible experience, try out the old-time recipes in the book’s appendix. Bake up a sweet memory of the good old days!
Memories of a Farm Kitchen, by Bob Artley and Rob Artley, hard cover, 96 pages, color illustrations, Pelican Publishing Co., $22.95, available through Farm Collector Books. FC

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