I Was There


| November/December 1991



James, Scott, Clyde, and John Bearrows'

6013 Judy Lane, R#4, Rochelle, Illinois 61068

It's 6 A.M., pots and pans are rattling downstairs. Better get up, Dad's already doing the chores. Just about time for the 6:15 Burlington passenger to go through. The old engineer has her hooked up real good. A trail of black smoke a mile long. I loved to watch that train go through. The smoothness with which it ran could not be excelled.

After a light breakfast of pancakes and sausage, Dad is ready to get started to cut grain. Four horses on the old McCormick binder, my job was to throw the bundles out as he made the back swath. Click, click, click, out came the bundles. I didn't think that there could be that many. Once in awhile, there would be one that wasn't tied. Dad always had some fellows come in to help shock. After the chores were done and we had supper, the moon would come out and Dad would say, 'Let's go and set up a few,' because it was cool then. We would always take a jug of ginger water with us when it was hot.

We always changed horses at noon. They got pretty tired when it was hot. We had a whip in the whip socket on the old binder, but to my knowledge, the whip was never used.

A couple of years later, Dad bought a 15-25 Emerson-Brantingham tractor. We used it to pull the binder. Guess what! I was promoted to ride the binder. I rode it from the time the dew was off until nearly dark. I had a good pillow on the seat.

Well, the grain has been shocked, time to go to more interesting things. Dad wanted to get the old Advance out. Always a lot of tinkering to be done. We wrapped a hay rope around the flywheel and pulled the engine out with a team of horses. They move real easy this way, as the gearing gives you a lot of leverage. My first job was to clean the flues. Dad backed our old buckboard in front of the engine so I would have a place to stand. I couldn't reach the top of the flues, but the old buckboard did the trick. Then there was brass to polish and general cleaning. We always had a pail of Black Beauty axle grease, it worked wonders on the gearing. In fact, I still have a little of that grease. The next thing, in comes the oil man with a barrel of steam cylinder oil. Loved the smell of that oil. The next job was to clean the grain bins of what was left of last year's grain. We did not have overhead bins or elevators. All we had was a No. 12 or No. 14 scoop shovel. (Not too bad to use once you got the hang of it.) We hauled grain to the elevator in a triple box wagon. We were lucky, we had a spring seat. Those old wooden wheel wagons didn't absorb very much shock. We had a lot of rain after harvest. The shocks still stood in the field, clover grown up about a foot high around the shocks.