Letter

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Andy
The Andy Winter's Threshing Outfit. Picture taken by Andy September 1913, six miles west of Yellow Grass, Sask., Canada. Cock 'o the North Engine and Case separator. Archie Wanamaker, separator man; Martin Miller, water hauler; Chas. Genter, engineer.

Box 10, Byron, Oklahoma

In a previous letter, I once expressed the wish that someone
would write a book on the part hobos played in the harvesting and
threshing of grain on the great plains. Since then, I got
‘Beggars of Life’ by Jim Tully, a well-written book but he
deals practically altogether with bums and tramps. The working
hobos usually resented being called a bum or tramp. As a rule they
were good workers and some were entertaining companions.

Among my dearest wishes is one that I might meet once again,
some of those hobos and spend a few hours of chinfest. I’m
enclosing some chaff from the old straw pile, on the hobos.

To be frank, it’s not the kind of word picture I wanted to
paint of the old-time hobos, but it was the only thing that would
come out of my mental blower. I feel that it’s too sentimental
and repetitious, but can’t improve it.

All of us old timers have nostalgic memories of seasons long
gone. To me, the best picture that hangs on memory’s wall is
the season of 1913. I worked through harvest for Wilbur Perkins,
southeast of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada. After harvest, I
ran an engine through threshing for Andy Winters, who lived west of
the town.

The engine was a Cock ‘O’ The North, built by the
American-Ables Co. and pulling a 40′ Case Separator.

Andy didn’t run a cook shack and we boarded with the farmers
and did they feed us!-I think everyone butchered a hog just before
threshing. Practically always, for dinner and supper there were two
kinds of pie and often the same of cake, then too a lunch was
brought out mid A. M. and that was a meal in itself.

There was a bunk car, but as I had to have an alarm clock to get
me out at 4o’clock, I slept in the haymows.

Archie Wanamaker, the separator man, carried a violin and many a
night I was lulled to sleep by the rhythm of old time tunes. Archie
was a quiet, soft spoken chap who always called a separator a
‘mill’ and pronounced in away that sounded something like
‘mwill’, but in a way that gave the word a pleasing,
melodious sound.

Another pleasant memory is carrying the ever needed lantern and
trudging across prairie or stubble to the engine and watch the play
of the Northern Lights. (No Honey, I didn’t carry the lantern
in order to see the lights).

Perkins and Andy were fine fellows to work for one couldn’t
ask for better. I have a very pleasant memory of the Canadian
people I met, and liked them fine.

Now I could go on and on in regard to that season, but better
leave the space for someone else, so will close with this
toast:

Here’s to the smell of cylinder oil, The odor of smoke and
steam, And here’s to a snack in the old cook shack And the
ghost of a thresher’s dream! 

Farm Collector Magazine
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