Rt. 3, Box 385 Taylorsville, NC 28681
Last July 4, the day dawned cloudy with a misty rain. Everyone
was afraid we would get rained out. A lot of preparation goes into
food to feed the threshers and visitors, so we worried about having
huge amounts of food on hand and no one to eat it. If we had been
rained out, we would have had to buy more food and spend three or
four more days cooking it. So the womenfolk all kept their fingers
crossed and silently prayed.
It must have worked because at 10:30 a.m. the sun began to break
out of the clouds, and Don Gwaltney blew the whistle and turned the
valve to make the flywheels turn. Gene Chatham and Graylen Cook
began feeding the first trailer load to the thresher. They broke
into a sweat within two or three minutes as the humidity was high
and the temperature was too! Still it didn’t seem as hot as in
years past. All in all things went pretty smoothly and soon the
first load was finished. Gene Chatham stayed to supervise and
Graylen Cook headed for the shade trees in front of the Gwaltney
home to help the neighbors ‘pick’ a little music on a
Everyone in the neighborhood who plays music brought his
instrument and they played old folk bluegrass and gospel songs,
some of which pre-date the Revolutionary War. Occasionally a few
folks would buck dance on the wooden porch.
In the meantime, Loy Bost and Gene Chatham’s son started for
the thresher again. With 90 to 95 pounds of pressure showing on the
steam pressure gauge it didn’t take too long to thresh a load
of wheat or oats. By 11:45 a.m. the second load of oats was done
and the threshers and spectators were beginning the short walk to
the picnic area located under the massive oak trees in the Gwaltney
A table four feet wide and forty feet long held the food, while
drinks were located on two smaller sized tables off to the side.
Lemonade was made, thirty gallons at a time, in special trash cans
used only for lemonade. Don Gwaltney’s two daughters, Peggy
Summers and Dell Lambert, served drinks for a while, then were
relieved by his granddaughter, Cindy Summers Bost, and Donna Cook,
wife of his grandson, Graylen Cook
Mr. Gwaltney’s wife, Nannie, and his two sisters, Bonnie
Staton and Gladys Canter, helped with the food preparation and
acted as hostesses to the affair. The food was good old basic ham,
fried chicken and dumplings, green beans, candied yams and the
like. The ladies get really fancy when it comes to desserts: red
velvet cakes, banana puddings, pecan pies, sweet potato pies,
apple, cherry, strawberry pies abound. If you can think of it,
it’s probably there somewhere.
After dinner is taken care of, everyone gathered around the
musician’s tent in the front yard for some serious ‘picking
and grinning.’ Usually after dinner we have about half a dozen
guitars, four or five fiddles, three or four mandolins and a couple
of banjos. Picking usually lasts until about 4 or 4:30 in the
The last load of wheat is threshed by 2:00 p.m., at the latest.
After the threshing is through, all the threshers will be found on
the front porch or under a shade tree enjoying a well deserved
break. Around 3 o’clock the crowd begins to drift off by ones
and twos but you can be sure they have had a good time at a real
family sort of affair.
Odds are they’ll be back next year on the 4th of July!