Edgar Bergen on the job recording a TV Hobby Show at Chris Busch's Annual Old Steam Threshing Day near Colton, Wash., Sept. 20, 1953. Photo by F. Hal Higgins
3-RING CIRCUS AT BUSCH RANCH
Out at President Busch's ranch, 3 miles from Colton, the next day, visiting Fiends and between 3,500 and 4,500 neighbors and steam equipment sightseers gathered. There were three main attractions:
1. The Chris Busch collection of some 29 old steam threshing and plowing engines, water tank wagon, cook wagon, threshers, etc.
2. Working models brought in and demonstrated by their builders.
3. The actual threshing of two stacks of grain by Case separator powered by the under mounted Avery engine.
As a special extra feature, there was Edgar Bergen and his cameraman making a program for his coming TV show. Watch for it, for Bergen did a real job in interviewing the model builders and catching their pets in action. Also, he interviewed several of the old steam thresher engineers present to catch their colorful recollections of the old days. Bergen also climbed aboard the big Avery, tooted the whistle and then pitched bundles from stack to Case separator as the threshing got under way.
It was interesting to visiting editors to study the wide appeal to every lawyer of humanity present from toddlers who wanted to play with the steam models to grizzled old timers in their 80's-agricultural college engineers and students, farm equipment dealers, teachers from local schools, and the pioneer farmers who had worked around such machines. Now and then a westerner asked where were the seven or eight combines built in the Pendleton-Spokane-Portland triangle before World War I: Northwest, Idaho, McRae, Blewett, Brown and Lewis, Savage, Harrington, Quinell, and maybe another or two. And the pride of Washington, a separator built at Walla Walla and used effectively in the Northwest for some years over a quarter century ago. The crowd had a good time and enjoyed the day from the first sight of the Busch collection of steam engines to the genuine cook wagon from which lunch was handed out the side-drop doors. One old time thresher fan whose boyhood in Iowa went back to circling horse power dropped a nostalgic tear or two as he remarked he thought Busch had captured everything but the swarms of flies that went with horses and the clouds of dog pecker gnats that hovered around the water jug corncob stopper. A California visitor who could recall the world's record for a day's threshing on the 'Doc' Glenn ranch in the Sacramento Valley, reminisced about the flock of buzzards that trailed the meat wagon coming from town to bring fresh meat for the threshing crews dinner and supper.
One Oregon man was noted with a big pad of paper circulating in the crowd as he gathered signatures calling on the State to set up a museum at Albany, Oregon, to house the pioneer steam, horse and man powered farm equipment. This is a worthy move that our Canadian neighbors have already started with considerable success, I understand from correspondence with E. R. Potter at Saskatoon. Several county museums have been started in California by the local historical societies, and the recent conference of California Historical Societies at Columbia State Park would indicate that interest is growing to the point where both the museum and the action show such as Busch has been putting on at Colton and the Midwest and East from Pennsylvania to Kansas will join hands to give us something in which high school teams can take part to re-create accurately the mechanization of the United States that has lifted the nation to its present so-called 'American standard of living.'