Cleat Tracks In The Sands Of Time

| January/February 1960

127 S. Douglas Street Bronson, Michigan

THERE WAS AT LEAST one incident, brought about by a somewhat peculiar, if not a comic cicumstance whereby, back in the oncoming era of gas power, that gas tractors gave way, for a time to steam. This happened in La Grange County, Indiana.

Mr. brother Walter McManus, had been operating a steam rig, in the vicinity of La Grange for several years using a Reeves, then a Rumely and finally a Baker 21 hp. for power.

It was along about this time that the younger generation of farmers, so my brother thought, were becoming preferential to gas power. Accordingly, he decided that, after the heavy threshing season was over, he would retire his Baker from the road to his sawmill and purchase internal combustion for all his field and custom work. So at the end of the grain threshing season he went to Fort Wayne and purchased the first installment to his anticipated new equipment, a 15-30 Hart Parr internal combustion tractor to use for the fall clover hulling and corn shredding.

All went well with this new job until late one October day in corn shredding time. It seems he had a customer with a small job out in the sticks on a back road a few miles from town. Both the man and his wife had a reputation for not being in the upper bracket so far as cleanliness was concerned, so my brother, realizing the situation, checked the size of the job and very carefully laid his plans so that they would not be obliged to eat a meal at the place. The neighbors, who were to help, had the same idea and so advance plans were made to eat dinner at the next job, a mile or so out on the main road where a more appetizing meal of chicken and noodles would be waiting.

A grand rush was made to get an early start on the day the job was scheduled so as to be sure to get away before dinner time. The teams were trotted to the field and back, the shredder was gorged, and the men worked frantically until they saw they could be through by 11:30. No effort was made to clean up around the machine as was the usual custom when through, but the belt was thrown off, even before the machine stopped, and the tractor was coupled to the shredder post haste. The wagons left on the run on the pretext of doing the home chores, all the time the old farmer was trying to get everybody to stay to eat, saying that dinner would soon be ready. The men in the field left on foot and across lots, but he insisted that my brother and his man stop and eat; and they resolutely rerused saying that they would have to get the machine set up at the next place, would be late as it was and didn't want to hold up on the job any more than absolutely necessary. That excuse was an iron clad one, so they thought, and they, having got the blower pipe folded back, started off on the double.


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