Scene of the Threshing Bee held at the Slattery Bros. farm near Spearville, Kansas, September of 1958. The engine is a 1911 Case 45 hp. running a 32x54 Case separator. Mr. E. C. (Big Mac) McMillan of Hoisington, Kansas at the throttle. Engine owned by S
AS I DRIVE THROUGH the country and see one man combining or baling, I remember how plentiful help was when we had a Threshing Run. Most every family had from one to a half dozen grown boys and every one traded work and would bring along two or three of the boys for good measure, no mention of pay being made. They were glad to help for their dinners and what fun they could have, and they usually had some, one way or another.
I remember one old fellow who had bought a new Ford car Being over 50 years old before he had ever rode in a car, let alone drive one, hence he was not too good a driver and in those days they would put the car back in the garage soon as they re-turned never leaving it out all night, let alone all the time as they do now. Also at threshing time it meant a trip into town for ice and fresh meats as they had no refrigerators as today. This old fellow would forget and push on the low gear pedal instead of the brake, hence he knocked out the end of the garage a couple of times. He devised a way to prevent this so he thought, as he proceeded to set a big post back away from the entrance and had the local blacksmith make him a big iron hook which he hooked over the back axle and purchased a big heavy rope and measured it out so when his car was in the right place in the garage the rope would stop the car. However, the rope was a bit longer than needed and he wound it around the post rather than cut it off. While he was gone to town for meat and ice one of the boys suggested they should lengthen the rope so when he had returned and unloaded his stuff, he goes to put the car away and pulls the gas and spark down so not to kill his engine and hooks on his rope. All eyes were on him, but no one in sight. There was a loud crash and the air turned blue. At dinner he comes in, looks all around and say: 'Which one you TAM devils lengthened out my rope?' But no one seemed to understand, so he said, 'You don't need to act like you don't know what you do know.'
Another funny one was an old fellow who had a new rubber-tired buggy. He came to where we were threshing to see when the machine would be at his place, also to engage help. Well, he came at dinnertime and of course had to stay for dinner, him and his wife. Well this buggy had real high rear wheels and low front wheels. Someone suggested they should trade the wheels around and luck was with them, as there was a wrench in the buggy. When they were ready to go home after dinner, he had to help his wife in the buggy as the step was three feet off the ground and when they got in and leaned back they were almost lying down with the rims between his knees and as he drove away he said 'What the his the matter with this buggy?' and if you didn't laugh you needed a doctor, but no doubt he soon found out as it took 40 acres to turn around in.
Well, I guess it wouldn't be fair not to tell one on myself. We were threshing for a fellow who lives up the road a mile who had a big job for this country. He promised if the boys would get through the following evening he would get a keg of beer so they all pitched in and was finishing the following evening as he promised he had the keg of ice cold beer. Well, most of the crew stayed until late. Two bundle haulers got in a race going up the road north and created quite a lot of excitement. We had a team of Bronco horses on the water wagon that would work but refused to be ridden, so the water boy started to lead them home. I was pretty full of beer and inclined to show off a bit, so I up and says, 'Why walk when we got horses to ride,' so I jumped on one of them with a big yell which scared the horse and go it running so it wouldn't start bucking. Well, I made that mile in a seconds time as they say a Bronco can outrun a coyote or walk all day in a half bushel. I was so intent on keeping it running I forgot what would happen when I got home. We went right on through the gate, busted every board in a dozen pieces and the old pony slid the last 100 yards to the barn. I managed to get off in fairly good grace. It would have been alright, but the man who furnished the beer was sort of worried as he wanted no one hurt. Having a car he drove down to see if all was OK and saw the gate, so I got the h heckled out of me for the next several days and when it comes to heckling. some were experts, women included Especially at mealtimes some one would say 'Pass Buffalo Bill the meat' or maybe it would be 'Pass Paul Revere the potatoes as he might ride again tonight.' I sure was glad when it died down.
Well, if I had my choice to take my life over again as of now or as it was then, I would still rather it was like then. We didn't work too hard as we had plenty of help and when one does something today, he mostly has to do it himself or pay high wages for what help he can get, and we had lots of fun also.