Farm Collector


3501 Bristol Highway Kingsport, Tenn.

A sort of nostalgia comes over me when I think of the grain
threshing days in Tennessee when I was a boy. I think of a few
times when we slept in burns– the sweet smells. the musical
sounds! To fall asleep in the aroma of new mown timothy and clover
and the delightful odor of hot horse flesh–the sweet fragrance of
wood smoke oil and steam–to lie there with those big husky
fellows, men of toil and men of the soil, and to hear the music of
munching animals, and the sizzling, frying, spewing. dozing steam
engine as he, as if animate, would, with the rest, of us. lapse
into a peaceful quiet, a kind of coma, when the steam guage would
register a lowering ‘blood pressure’, the mantle of dark
ness would envelop us, the cool of even tide would caress our
checks and every man would begin to snore, each in his individual
key, and soon, the dreams of working men turned to work, the
silence of night would be broken when someone would yell: ‘Let
her go!’ or ‘More wheat’, or perhaps, ‘Now
everybody, come up with her’! O. beautiful isle of memory!
These thoughts carry me hack beyond what were working days for me,
to child-hood days of boyish play–days when I would beg the
engineer to let me ride from one set to another–riding sometimes
standing on the platform, holding to his monkey jacket: sometimes
on the plat form tank, or even atop a pile of wood stacked on the
water wagon. When threshing, my favorite seat was on top a big
iron-cleated driver that would vibrate with the motion of the
engine. From the sparks of many a day the engineer’s hat and
jacket looked like a sifter, and I even liked that, wishing that my
own had in them the decorative burned holes.

No engineer was ever unkind, even though I may have at times
interfered with his work, but he always acted like he had read
something in an old Book called ‘The Golden Rule,’ and
remembered when he was a boy. Truly, that was the ‘Golden
Age,’ and its spirit warms my heart to this day. One of my
hobbies is making Kodaks of steam engines. I drive miles to run one
down of which I have heard. On one 15-mile highway I found six team
engines, all in use but one. In a radius of three miles I found
five traction engines–one big A. B. Farquhar, and the others big

I understand now what a former teacher meant when speaking to
our Tennysonian literary Society at Cedar Creek Academy, Jonesboro,
R. F D., Tenn., when he, Prof. B. S. Depew said: ‘If I could
afford it, I should like to give every boy a steam engine that he
might pull the whistle cord and fill the land with the sweetest
music this old world as ever known.

‘Backward, turn backward, Oh time in thy flight.

Make me a. boy again, just for tonight.’

  • Published on Jul 1, 1952
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