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 borrowed guitar.
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 yard.
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 afternoon.
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!