CHRISTMAS CHIMES

Mendon, Utah

TWILIGHT WAS SOFTLY gathering on a late Autumn evening. The
Harvest Moon was slowly rising above the Wasatch range to mingle
its gorgeous colors with the crimson sky which indicated the days
of summer were over and an early winter was about to be ushered in.
My anxious father stood gazing in the distance and listened as he
sat the pail of fresh milk down on the back step where mother
appeared in the open door and the fumes from a wholesome cooked
supper filled the night air with an appetizing odor. It was no
small task to cook for a hungry lot of threshers and the spirit of
rivalry prevailing in the neighborhood. So each woman tried to
outdo the neighbor women in cooking.

Consequently, the meals for the hungry and dusty lot were almost
banquets, and mother was obliged to call in a neighbor girl to
assist with the supper which had been so carefully prepared for the
expectant crew that were due an hour previous. ‘I wonder what
is keeping them so late,’ mother said and a worried look shown
on her face as she feared the meal would be cold and spoiled after
their big task of preparing the same. Our threshing job was the
last on the route and that old machine been grinding since August
first and it was now late in November. We had to wait our turn. The
hands were all engaged as well as paid for as no money was in
circulation. It was necessary to exchange work and the thresher
took up toll. The good board they received and the common
hospitality made it an easy matter to get plenty of men to work. In
fact a job on a thresher was coveted and engaged many months ahead.
While we youngsters look forward from one year to the next for the
happy event and the chance to watch a threshing job generally came
by invitation and especially to be permitted to push the wheat back
in the bin and eat at the second table after the big men were
through. To run around the track the horses had made with the sweep
power after the machine had gone was also quite a privilege. So
naturally my youthful heart was filled with rapture at the thought
of the threshers coming. My father and mother were no more anxious
than I was as we waited for the approach of the coming machine.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the rumbling of wide iron
tires over the frozen ground. ‘That’s them,’ father
said, ‘Better open the big gate.’ Which command I eagerly
obeyed and watched the big red monster drawn inside the lot with
two span of horses, followed by the horse power trap wagon and toll
wagon and the men all in a jolly mood, laughing and shouting, to me
it was the crowning feature of the day. Father designated the way
to set and assisted with the horse, the jumbling of tumbling rods,
equalizers and chains was all music to me, and I felt honored to
walk up to the house with the real boss. A tub of warm water was
waiting outside and soon it was surrounded by the dusty and hungry
threshing crew, laughing and cutting their little pranks. Around
the table which was heavily laden with wholesome food they all sat.
While Grace was being said I was praying in my own heart that
mother wouldn’t ask me to wait. And sure enough there was a
vacant place right next to the boss feeder and share holder and I
was allowed to occupy it. I felt honored and somewhat embarrassed
among all the big men who were heroes in my young eyes and I
marveled that they could operate such a great machine and hoped
that someday I might be like them. The usual jest and jovial humor
continued during the meal. Hey! you straw monkey, some one over
here wants potatoes too. The old man referred to followed the
machine to stack straw for a bushel of wheat a day and of course
felt entitled to his board and there was nothing dainty about him
after bucking straw all day. Happenings of the days and plans for
the morrow were talked over. Finally the last man had filed out
after hearing instructions for breakfast next morning at six.

I didn’t sleep much that night and before the first man was
on the job the next morning, I was out looking over that machine.
Got a liberal supply of dust on me to look and smell like a real
thresherman. At seven o’clock breakfast was all over and the
horses were all hitched. The crack of the whip and the cogs on the
power began to rumble, the face wheel on the separator began its
familiar grind and soon the hum of the cylinder sent out strains of
music through the keen morning air. Pitchers were dropping bundles
in all shapes from the top of the stack until an old experienced
feeder let out a yell at a red faced husky who was fresh on the
job. The clean wheat began to pour out in the half bushel measures
with father, my uncle and even a third party was called to assist
carrying the bags on their shoulders to the granny.

Everything was running nicely and it seemed assured our grain
would be threshed in good shape before winter, even though we were
the last on the string.

Suddenly the driver shouted ‘Whoa’, as he saw the green
hand drop a fork and it was headed straight for the cylinder just
missing the band cutter’s hand. But too late!-It crashed in the
cylinder before the horses could be stopped. A concave was broken,
a casting that held the cam with a number of cylinder teeth being
bent. We’re done for now (the main boss said) unless
they’ve got extras in town.

Soon the best driving horse was hitched to a buggy and a share
holder was on his way to Logan (several miles away) for new repairs
while the rest of the men straightened and replaced broken
teeth.

By eleven o’clock the man came driving back, but all to no
avail. Not an extra this side of Racine, Wisconsin. Well, what does
that mean? It means she’ll sit right there until we get one
from the east. And there she sat, stacks half threshed. The order
was telegraphed but even at that, day after day we waited and
several weeks before the treasured part would arrive. Winter was
approaching. The first snow had already covered the open stacks and
a disabled threshing rig.

It was the day before Christmas when the main boss came and
announced he had a Christmas gift for us. No better gift could it
be. The part for the machine had come and was soon placed and the
snow shoveled off the stacks.

Soon the old familiar hum was piercing the winter air and no
better music or Christmas chimes were ever sounded. When the last
bundle was put through and the idling machine seemed to ring out
clearer and louder A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A HAPPY NEW
YEAR

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