| January/February 1975

3196 MacArthur Road, Decatur, Illinois 62526

I am not an old thresherman but a middle-aged ex farm boy. I hope my story will be interesting to you.

I was born in Southern Illinois in my Grandfather's old farm house. The farm was about five miles to the nearest town and all roads were unimproved dirt roads.

Horsedrawn wagons loaded wsith hand-hewn railroad ties often passed the farm, the horses straining to pull the heavy loads which sank deep into the clay mud. These roads turned to dust in the dry summer months and every plant and fence post was coated with the gray dust.

My Father, a country school teacher and farmer, always had a few acres of meadow grass which often went to seed and was of a reddish color and called red top. In the late summer months this grass was cut with a mowing machine, raked into windrows with a sulky rake. Men came along with pitch forks and stacked this hay into small piles about five feet across and about five feet high. I do not recall all the details of the contraption my Father had rigged up to haul this hay but here is what I do remember. A 2 inch pole and about 10 feet in length was poked under the pile of hay, a rope attached to one end thrown over the top and drawn tightly. A single tree was chained to one end of pole and an old plug horse was hitched to this. This is where I came in. I rode the old plug back and forth to the main stack where men were building a large stack of hay. The stack of hay was shaped to turn rain and allowed to cure for a few weeks.

Word came that the threshing machine would soon come to the neighborhood and I watched for it with all the suspense a seven year old boy could stand. I soon saw the black smoke at a nearby farm and soon it came to the Chandler place, only a half mile distant. My Father assured me that our place would be next. But alas, the country school had started and I was at school the day the rig pulled in.