Dress Rehearsal

| November/December 1990

  • Double Keck Gonnerman
    Moving out, morning of threshing day with the 20 HP double Keck Gonnerman.
  • Big and li' l threshers
    Big and li' l threshers getting ready to pose.

  • Double Keck Gonnerman
  • Big and li' l threshers

Rt #2, Box 30 Tremont, Illinois 61568

Everyone enjoys looking at those old-time threshing pictures from the good old days the engine belted to the separator before a house-sized straw stack, the patient horses wait-ing for the racks to be unloaded, and the ever-present kids with water jugs posed in front of the whole works.

For years we had kicked around the idea of recreating an old-time threshing scene as accurately as possible. We always had a dress rehearsal the weekend before our show why not make it the real thing?

It was surprising how much enthusiasm there was! 'Where can we find the old wide brim straw hats?' A trip to the local Wal-Mart solved the problem. Everyone showed up wearing regulation bib overalls or suspenders and bandanas, and carry-ing pitch forks, some veterans of actual threshing runs in their grandpa's day!

Saturday dawned a picture-perfect, cool sunny day the kind of day you never seem to get for your show. (It doesn't sound as if the old-timers got too many like that either!) Engineer Lloyd Lehman had arrived a couple of hours before to get up steam on the 20 horse Keck-Gonnerman steam engine. It was a funny feeling, alone on the farmstead, not a sound save for the birds and the hiss of the plumbing, watching the gauge creep towards 100 lbs. Then across the field overall-clad figures carrying forks walking along beside horse-drawn rack wagons appeared, and work began.

A local newspaper photographer captured the historical re-creation, from lining up the separator, the 'hold your horses!' holler, and the rhythmic whine as the threshing machine whirred up to speed and the first bundle hit the cylinder. The atmosphere was pure nostalgia, some-thing that cannot be recreated amid parked cars, crowds and flea markets. We made reprint pictures available to all who participated, so they could pick out their favorites featuring them or their friends. Finally, everyone got an 8x10 of the classic 'All done, ready to move on' picture with everyone lined up, including kids and water jugs.


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