An Unforgettable Day

| July/August 1998

15420 S.E. 20th Place Bellevue, Washington 98007-6333

It was a hot dry summer in 1934 in southwestern Idaho, no rain for months. In a reclaimed desert that is not very surprising. The grain threshing was about half over, all bundle wagon, everything by hand. This particular farmer had a lot of livestock and wanted his straw pile in the same corral as his barn. This made it a bit difficult, as the corral was large but not really large enough for all that had to be there with the straw pile.

We threshed from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in those days and were running about 2000 bushels of wheat a day. We had run two full days and had to move the rig several times, as even with the extension blower on the Red River Special, the straw pile was too big to blow the straw over. The corral was getting very crowded.

On the third day about 11:00 a.m. my father, who was tending the separator, noticed a small flame right under the blower hood with the wind blowing the sparks around. He immediately pulled the hood up and stopped the pitchers and told the water hauler to throw a five gallon bucket of water into the blower. Instead of throwing the water into the blower, he threw it into the grain pan. The fan blew a little water into the blower and we thought it was out, but a few little sparks were still burning.

By now the grain hauler had gotten so excited that he started to pull out, upset the grain box wagon and the horses were falling all over themselves trying to get away and that blocked the bundle wagons. The pitchers got excited and scared the horses. Confusion reigned!

It was obvious now that there was no way to put out the fire, and the separator was a wooden machine, so it was time to get it out. My father threw the belt and tried to back the engine up to the separator but still the wagons were bogged down. The fire, by now, was raging in the powder dry straw. My father had to help get the wagons out and finally got the separator out and the grain wagon. Someone called the fire department from town, about four and a half miles away.


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