First Steam Thresher in Cache Valley, 1876, near Richmond, Utah, owned by the Merrill Brothers.
About 1907, in the summertime, I answered an ad in the American Thresherman - 'Wanted, an Engineer to operate engine for threshing. Lexington, Nebraska.' I persuaded father and mother to consent. Mother was very reluctant as she feared her boy would get in bad company. I had been taught and raised a good clean boy and especially the true use of prayer. Mother finally consented with my promises to be a good boy. So, I wrote the man to meet me at the railroad station on a certain date.
The train pulled into Lexington about midnight. My feeling as I stepped down from the coach can hardly be described. Alone in a strange place 800 miles from home. Never before had I ventured more than 100 miles in Southern Idaho or South Cottonwood. The vision of mother's tears as she bade me good bye, leaving the shrine of childhood, brought tears to my own now.
I prayed then, more fervently than ever before. Not a soul in sight that warm summer night. The train had sounded the last signal as it disappeared in the distance. I ventured into the station and asked the lone dispatcher where I might get lodging. His tone was far from friendly. The walk was at least a mile through a draw of the Platt River. Frogs croaked with familiarity as I'd so often heard at home. Finally the ascent rose to the town's business section which was all aglow with liquor, tobacco and profanity. It was the night before Independence Day. I was finally entering the lobby of my first experience of a hotel. I didn't sleep much in the hot humid room, four floors high. I was quite relieved when the sun rose from the flat horizon and the barrage of fireworks had subsided.
About 8 o'clock the man came climbing the stairs to my room, a tall man man of unkempt personality and offensive odor introduced himself as my employer. It was quite evident he was a growing bachelor of 40 summers. The man who accompanied him was of the same order. Both had already liquored up for a big celebration. After directing me to the place of his rented quarters, it was quite evident they didn't want to be bothered any more that day with me. This was indeed a relief.
The ranch was two miles south of Lexington. After the Independence Parade which was a credit to any community as it depicted real patriotism, I walked through the swamps of the Platt and was directed to the place. The shack was old and the interior was dirty and the fumes of stale tobacco and liquors were prevalent.
I found some old copies of The American Thresherman and went out under an apple tree and read. I looked over the engine I was to run and was much disappointed. It was a return flue Minneapolis. Night came and I took an old quilt and made my bed under the apple tree.
About day-break I heard drunken voices. The two had really celebrated. It was sunrise before they finished telling their experiences with bad women. Never before had I heard such profanity and vulgarity. Eventually we pulled out to thresh, about 116 degrees in the shade and the heat from that return flue Minneapolis almost melted me. I longed for the mountain air and the cold water from canyon streams. Drinking water there was from cisterns. Board was salt-side, potatoes and black coffee. I stayed until I made enough for my fare home. With such gratitude of my home in the mountains and the loving care that only a mother can bestow, I returned in safety. I might conclude the old bachelor, with all his faults, was human and tried to do the best for my welfare.