529 Elaine Road Columbus, Ohio 43213
When I was thirteen years old my father started me at the job of firing our old Russell engine. My older brother would handle the outfit when on the road but I was responsible for keeping it hot, oiled and watered while stationary. I remember at one neighbor's place we were baling and at dinner time the place where I sat did not have a fork. I was too bashful to ask for one but somehow managed to get enough to eat. When we were leaving the house it seems that some of the women discovered what had happened and I got a 'going over' for not asking for a fork. It did not take me too long to overcome my backwardness at the dinner table and many were the meals that I enjoyed while baling, threshing and silo filling.
When I was about sixteen, we boys talked our father into getting an engine plow. We now had a 16 H.P. compound Russell engine. This was a four bottom P. & O. 14' plow with individual bottoms. It worked O.K. in stubble but in sod a couple of the bottoms would break up the sod and leave it rough. The P. & O people finally sent a man to line it up. If I had known then what I later learned it would not have been necessary for the company to have sent a man. I am sending a couple of pictures of the outfit. It was one of the first, if not the first engine plow in central Ohio. (see pictures)
After father died mother made a sale and when the engine was up for bid, junk men were about the only ones bidding. My brother and I ran up the price to about what it was worth and I ended up with an engine. The other machinery seemed to get better offers, so were sold to neighbors.
The next spring I got a 31' Garr-Scott separator and that summer started out on my own. After the first season 'kid like' I decided that I wanted a tractor. (I had to borrow a team and hire a man to haul water). Well, I managed to get a 30-60 Russell and threshed two seasons.
One of the neighbors boys, who had been in the Marines, and I got the wild idea of going to Canada and plowing prairie sod. We made a scouting trip to Manitoba and in Winnipeg met a man from Newark, Ohio who was in the real estate business. He sold us on the idea of shipping the 30-60 to Marquette, Manitoba and getting an 8 bottom prairie plow. We didn't need much selling. They were paying seven to eight dollars per acre and in our imagination we were going to get rich quick. Well, anyone who has had experience with prairie sod probably knows without me saying so, that it was no snap. Getting stuck in the soft sub-soil, getting the buffalo willow raked up like hay under the plow, using 100 gallons of fuel some days and freezing in a tent at night was not just the way we had figured to begin with. Well, we got a lot of experience which is a high priced teacher but a thorough one. It, no doubt, helped me later on as a Service Man, a short time with the Frick Co., seven years with the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. and about twenty-six years with Massey-Harris (Massey Ferguson).
In spite of my experience with gas and diesel tractors, I have never been able to get Steam out of my blood. I am enclosing a rhyme that I wrote a while back and thought maybe others might enjoy reading it.
Perhaps I should tell some of the amusing incidents that I know of, and that happened to me.
One summer after running a tractor through threshing season a neighbor, who had a steam rig, asked me to fire his 18 H.P. Russell to finish a small job that he still had left- I was glad to help but what did I do but sit on the water tank and let the fire get so low (being used to a tractor) that I had to get some kindling to get it going again. Was my face red!
While on the road for Massey-Harris I was trying to find a Farmer's place in northern Ohio. I stopped to inquire the directions from a man who was near the road and he told me to go to the next cross road, turn left, go to the next road, turn right, cross the bridge and turn right again. Thinking this would be coming back to the road I was already on, I asked, 'Can't I go through on this road?' 'Hell, yes!' he replied 'if you want to drive through the river'.
One of the boys who worked with me at Massey's was delivering a combine south of town and was following a street car track and for some reason a car was stopped waiting. E. F. being in a hurry started to pass the car and the unloading spout of the combine stuck out just enough to hit the car and sounded like a boy with a stick on a picket fence as he passed the windows. He stopped when he heard the clatter but was past the car. The motorman was rather excited and commenced to give E. F. a bit of lip. E. F-looked to see there was not much damage done and said to the motorman, 'Why don't you get your ! old street car out of the road', got back in the cab and took off.
Well that is about all for now, except to say that I enjoy the 'Iron Man' very much and would like to suggest that there ought to be a T. V. show featuring Steam, Threshing, Sawing, Etc. That would seem more romantic to me than some of the shows we now have.
- Now the poem -
Upon my cottage porch I sit
And dream of happy days,
When old steam threshers rolled along
The lanes and dusty ways.
The smoke I see a rolling high
And hear that engine still,
A puffing, hissing, sputtering,
When climbing up the hill.
I liked to watch those clouds of steam,
And loved the whistles tone.
I liked to hear the drive wheels ring
When they would crush a stone.
And when it turned into our lane
With dignity and pomp,
It gave me such a happy thrill
That I would shout and romp
I'd meet it half way up the lane
And walk along beside,
And I'd envy my big brother
As he ran the thing with pride.
The engine seemed to have pride too,
As though it were alive.
It seemed to try to please him,
And would purr when he would drive.
I thought I could not wait until
The time I'd grow to be,
A first class traction engineer,
I hoped as good as he.
But after while the time did pass,
And I have had my day,
But when the little tractor came
The steamer passed away.
The little modern combine has
Replaced the threshing crew,
But modern harvests do not have
The romance that we knew.
So when our task on earth is done
And we are called above,
I hope to meet that threshing crew
That I had learned to love.
And surely, when St. Peter finds
That we are standing by,
He'll send us out to thresh some wheat
Some barley, oats and rye.
And when we get out to the field
I know that we shall find,
An engine with full head of steam
And a thresher hitched behind.
Author: Chester Phalor