Farm Collector

GOSSIP FROM THE BACK SHOP

Route 1, Box 1015, Yucaipa, California

A Sad Day comes along.

Not all my stories, taken from true life, are simply humorous,
witty, nor necessarily intended to reveal some little trick or
trait of our vanishing trade. This incident centers around a
passing event one day in late August when I was stepping off my
merry pace homeward for dinner via the board sidewalk that fronted
dear friend Mel’s machine shop of which I have referred so
often. I daresay that were I to be blindfolded upon leaving the
office, I could time off every step like clockwork and tell you at
just what point I was passing the front door of his shop. A
clothespin on my nose could have been included so that I might not
get the scent of a bit of oil, ash and smoke around the old
foundry.

But on this particular day, Nels Lundin with his wife and two
children were all dressed up in dark clothes in spite of the heat
and were sitting in their little surrey with a canopy top, paused
in front of Mel’s shop and talking quite earnestly. As I came
within earshot, I perceived that the subject of the conversation
involved another old friend, Mr. Christopherson, of Amherst,
Nebraska. In the days before Mr. Christopherson had built the
Christopherson Machine Shop in Amherst, Mel had gone down upon
occasion to reflue and make any necessary repairs on Mr.
Christopherson’s 110 Case. And before the 110 had come along, a
much smaller engine had been used to do custom threshing about that
part of Nebraska. And during one of these earlier threshing
seasons, it had been the great misfortune of this kindly gentleman
and engineer to loose his right hand about the wrist in a
belting-up accident. So he came by the 110 with its power steering
and some of the folks about the countryside began calling him
‘Hoke’ after a bit of Norsky parlance, because of his
hook-arm.

Now it seemed that as Mr. Christopherson spent more and more
time in his shop which was growing into quite an institution, his
assistant did most of the engineering on the big threshing rig. But
only a few days ago he had gone out into the countryside to see how
the harvest was coming along. Things were turning at a merry pace,
and quick settings were made between stack setups. As the big 110
was backing around into the belt again after one of these sets, Mr.
Christopherson noted a bunch of tumbleweeds, or Russian Thistles as
they were called then in that part of the country, were becoming
entangled in the front wheels and axle of the old girl. Not that it
would have made much difference in her progress, but he stepped up
close and with the hook fitted to his forearm attempted to clear
the weeds while the engine was still in reverse. Cruel Dame Fate
intervened at the point, and caused his hook to become caught in
the inner side of the front wheel spokes as the front end of the
engine was backing in a large arc towards his position. Some things
happen in a flash, a split second. It is doubtful that his
assistant could have stopped the engine within that half-moment,
especially as he harbored no fears that this old timer could
possibly further jeopardize his life and limb. The cruel result was
that Mr. Christopherson was drug down and under the heavy front
wheel and his body became severed in the pelvic region. All
threshing operations now were brought to a most abrupt halt and the
good fellow lived but several minutes longer. At least Nature had a
kind way of relieving his agony, for she caused numbness to dull
any effects of direct pain. These lessons come hard.

So it was, Nels and his family were driving the little span of
blacks down to the funeral. Doubtless some of you older readers
from down that way may recall some of the unhappy details of this
tragic event. But as I have mentioned, and doubtless you may know,
all is not pleasure and happiness around the threshing crew.

  • Published on Jan 1, 1964
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