Last Stop on the Threshing Ring

"My youthful heart was filled with rapture at the thought of threshers coming. ..."


| November/December 1960



Wheat shock in field

Wheat in Pennsylvania.

John Collier/Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

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 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 fresh pail of 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 woman.

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’s keeping them so late,” Mother said and a worried look shown over her face as she feared the meal would be cold and spoiled after their big task of preparing the same. Our job was the last on the route and that old machine had been grinding since August 1 and 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. In fact a job on the thresher was coveted and engaged many months ahead.

While we youngsters looked forward from one year to the next for the happy event, the chance to watch a threshing job generally came by invitation, especially to be permitted to push the wheat back in the bin and eat at second table after all 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 threshers coming. My father and mother were no more anxious than I as we waited and watched together 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 with two span of horses, followed by the horsepower trap wagon and toll wagon and men, all in a jolly mood, laughing and shouting and, to me, it was the crowning feature of the day. Father designated the way to set and assisted with horses and 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.