BIG NICK ARRIVES ON THE EASTERN SHORE


| March/April 1974



Purchasing of the land

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I was born and raised, the wheat fields averaged from about 40 to 60 acres, as most of the farms here were of 160 acres more or less.

As I recall, my first association with a steam threshing rig was around the age of 8 or 9. My first job at threshing time was hauling wood to the engine long before daylight. Around sunup several of the boys my age and I would start to haul water in old wooden barrels, by horse cart from the nearest stream for the engine. Threshing usually began about sunup or shortly thereafter. Invariably, we boys would stop loading water from the stream and take a swim; before long we would hear three shrill blasts from the engine whistle which meant the engineer needed water right away.

In this area the threshing rigs usually belonged to one or two owners. Six or seven farmers in the same neighborhood joined together and formed a threshing run. Each farmer furnished a team and wagon and two men. One man pitched the bundles of wheat from the shocks to the man on the wagon who loaded the bundles and took them to the thresher. As each farmer's crop was finished the rig moved to the next adjoining farm until all of the farmers wheat on the run had been threshed. It would be a very grave injustice indeed, not to give credit to the farmer's wives who toiled so hard to prepare the wonderful threshermen's meals these tireless ladies put before us. Believe me these meals were something you could never forget.

As each threshing run was completed the rig would move on to another run, etc. until all the wheat had been threshed, usually by late July or August.

Around the middle thirties the gas tractors began to replace the faithful old steamers never again the same. In the late thirties I was married and left the farm. Shortly thereafter the combine began to replace the gas threshing rigs and the nostalgia of wheat threshing was lost.

During the late sixties I had the privilege of attending several of the old time steam reunions which brought back some long forgotten boyhood memories.