BOUND FOR LEXINGTON, NEBRASKA

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First Steam Thresher in Cache Valley, 1876, near Richmond, Utah, owned by the Merrill Brothers.

Mendon, Utah

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.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment