Evidently Karl slipped on giving us the complete name and address of the writer, or the writer did. It is an interesting article anyway. Ed.
'Here's to the cooks God bless them, May Never ever distress them'
THE BOSS HAD JUST brought a new cook from town and the next morning at 2 A. M., he pounded on the side of the car to get her awake. In a few minutes she came out the door with suitcase in hand. The boss asked her 'Where she was going?' and she replied 'Someplace to stay all night.' When asked if she knew what steam was, Cookie replied 'It's water gone crazy with the heat.'
Kook Kar Kicker Is this the apple pie you made last week?
Kook It's the pie you'll eat this week or you will get a chance to eat it next week.
Back in the days of the cook car most of the threshers had two girls for the cooking job. One was the cook at 4 or 5 dollars a day and her helper got $2.50 to $3.00. Their day started at 3:45 A. M., and they hardly ever got through with the supper dishes until 9 P. M., just about 18 hours each day. Breakfast at 5:30 A. M., lunch at the machine at 9 A. M., dinner at noon, lunch at 4 P. M., and supper at 7:30 P. M. Many of the cooks were members of the boss's family, perhaps his wife or daughter, but many were neighbor women or out of the state girls who came back each year for the cooking jobs. Many romances developed in the cook cars, and some turned into marriages. The boys would pitch bundles during the day and pitched some 'Woo' in the evening by moonlight and no time was lost. When the threshing season was over they got their license and a minister to tie the knot. In 1915 our spike pitchers married our two cooks, Anna and Mary and both lived in Minneapolis.
All supplies were brought to the cook car each day by the boss or a 'Flunky' and it was their job to see that the cooks had a supply of fresh clear water for cooking, as well as keep drinking water to the crew. Some of the farmers would give the cooks a room in their home, but otherwise the cooks had to bed down on the folding bed set up in the car, at any rate they did not have much time for sleeping.
I engineered for Ness Bros. for nine seasons and their cook car was kept as clean as any good kitchen, but I have seen some cook cars that you would hate to let your dog eat or sleep in. These were the thresher men that had so much trouble with their crews. They generally had three crews, one that they had just fired, one working, and ready to quit, and one just hired. One thresher had a cook car with no screens on either door or windows. Flies were everywhere and food was of the cheapest quality and very poorly prepared, and the hoboes had to really fight to get some of it away from the flies. If someone complained the boss would ask, 'If he thought he was at the Waldorf?' This particular thresher never believed in taking lunch to the crews between regular meal periods and imagined he could make money by feeding the men as little food as possible. Believe me that coffee or lemonade and a sandwich between meals always paid good dividends, I know as I have worked for both types. Now that the cook car days are past and the cooks are cooking in hotels or restaurants and the old cars made into chicken coops or play houses for the girls, they are all a part of the past. It is nice to think and dream of the old days and I will never forget a minute of it and I hops the old timers and our combining generation will enjoy my story.