FROM HAY TO SPACE


| September/October 1967



Oil Pull, a 20-35'

The Old Boy is caught doing a bit of whitling by Mrs. Burris. Note the shop on the left, and the canopy outside work space on the right back, as depicted in Mr. Glessner's cartoon. The last type of the heavy-duty Oil Pull, a 20-35, also peeks around the g

Mrs. Iva Burris

Rt. 1, Box 1015, Yucaipa, Cal. 92399

Dear Elmer, Aunt 'Lene, Anna Mae, Kitty, and all others of your wonderful family who publish and edit the Iron Men Album and Gas Engines.

While my good hubby has had too many other tasks on his mind for the past few years to continue his series 'Gossip from the Back Shop' I thought maybe I might put in a few words and perhaps entitle it 'From Hay to Space, as seen from the kitchen window.' It is very seldom that I can catch him sitting down for even a few brief moments of rest, but I did manage to get him to pose for fun doing a bit of whittling and philosophically meditating and the enclosed snapshot is intended to show that your resourceful cartoonist Mr. Roy Glessner may be endowed with clairvoyant powers. For 'Bizzer's' shop is much like that in the cartoon, with a canopy workspace on the right hand side under which dwell a Case 22 x 38 thresher and a 20-35 Oil pull tractor. He is still hopeful of procuring a small steam engine with which to stage an old time threshing demonstration in this part of the country. So that is the way I see the back yard whenever I happen to glance out of the back kitchen window. When he is not pursuing some electronic or mechanical problem in his shop, he is cultivating the yard in an attempt to grow fruit trees and garden varieties in a type of soil which was surely intended for manufacturing concrete or some other such thing.

For, while California may have an ideal climate for growing almost anything under the sun, good soil is actually quite a scarcity. Most of it is either decomposed granite or adobe. Often has he wished for a few carloads of that real earth from back in Iowa, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. But he does not really bemoan his efforts, for he says it does keep him young and closest to heaven.

Now I had better get on with the title of this episode. Bizzer, as his favorite aunt nick-named him, was born in Flandreau, South Dakota, almost up against the Minnesota state line. A wonderful threshermans' country in those days. His grandfather published the Moody County Enterprise, as I recall, bless his soul, and declared that Bizzer was born with a monkey wrench in his hands. At any rate, while he was still in his baby buggy, his aunt Grace relates how he would cry if someone would not wheel him down to the railway depot at the sound of a whistle, so he could watch the 'choo-choo' come into town. Biz has told me that his earliest recollection of threshing engines was when he was about two years old. He was playing on the upstairs back porch of Mrs. Wilson's building which also housed the printing office. Very distinctly he recalls that two 'Iron-Men' came along the back road with a steam engine, apparently on their way home and low on fuel. The engine stopped a moment, and one of the men stepped down and picked up a stray board along the roadside. He immediately placed it under the front wheels of the engine, crosswise, so as to divide it into sections which he then put into the firebox. His remarkable memory recalls some other of his toddling days with which I shall not burden you here. But a few years later his uncles were tied to the task of taking him to the real old 5 & 10 stores to look at the great variety of toy Weeden steam engines. Toys like those are not made anymore. About eight years after the turn of the century, the capitol city location fight was ended with the designation of Pierre for the center of affairs of state. At this time his grandfather moved his newspaper to Pierre as the Weekly Free Press. And but a short time after this Bizzer's family moved to the farm in the western part of the state.

Power machinery was rather scarce in that particular section, and threshing and harvesting was done with horsepower. Hence his first contact with such work as pitching hay and grain right along with the rest of the fellows brought him into play with the old Dingee-Woodbury sweep to drive the hand-fed conveyor stacker thresher. I do believe that he can still hear the noisy murmur of all those connecting tumbling rods about which he speaks. This threshing rig was owned by the Young brothers, who later purchased a new Case steel separator and an Advance steam engine which they indicated to be of a 20-72 horsepower rating. Shortly after that, and an era with a little old Russell steamer of about 1898 vintage with a Birdsell huller, the farmers shared in the purchase of a new Case 20-40 gas tractor and a 28 x 50 separator to match. This was during the first stages of World War Number One. For Heaven's sake, is it not something when we must start numbering world wars in sequence, and having to get into every one of them! At any rate, Bizzer was in his very first teens when he was allowed to help with engine work. Oh, he hadn't taken over yet, of course. But his father had formerly worked on the railroad, and at this time moved back to town.