My Memoirs


| July/August 1963



Swedish families, direct from Sweden, lived among us then, and they loved the Swedish black rye bread. Father ground rye for them, and a Swede wife taught mother to make it. The crust was hard; but that soft center!! I could make a meal on it with butter alone.

The heavy cast bed plate on our engine, (bolted to a couple of walnut logs bedded in the ground) extended only back to the front end of the cylinder leaving the cylinder over hang, so that the condensation from the cylinder cocks dropped on the ground, in warming the engine and getting under load the water and steam dug little holes in the earth beneath about six inches or so deep and a couple of inches in diameter. They would sometimes stand almost full of oily water from one grinding day to the next. Seemed the oil made the holes sort of water proof.

The pastor of our small rural Methodist Church owned 3 or 4 nice Jersey cows, and as father was one of his parishioners, he brought us his grain to grind.

One day he arrived, just as we were ready to start. I noticed, as he helped father mix his grain for grinding that he had on his Sunday white shirt and collar and black tie, and over them a cover-all suit open down the front, so that the shirt front was mostly exposed. I already had the engine running slowly to warm it, when the Reverend started back toward me and father signaled to bring it up to speed.

When our preacher got just opposite me at the throttle the cylinder cocks still open he reached out, touched the sawyers lever with his fingers, saying, 'And this is the little governor.' and right then it happened. In that same instant father tightened down and started the mill to grinding. The governor opened and as the engine took its load a sheet of that dirty, muddy water shot up and covered that poor man's white shirt front. He left the building before I had time to say a word; (though what could I have said) probably to give vent to thoughts that he would hardly be using in his next Sunday sermon.

After we began grinding for table use we realized we were not set up too good for that. It should be cleaner around the mill and we had no bins to store the corn meal and flours. So father decided to rearrange the whole plant. He built to the south a room to place the engine and boiler, then floored the entire buggy shed and mounted a brand new Nordyke and Marmon 'Plantation' stone burr mill, (the old one had developed a crack in one of the stones) on the floor. The bolting equipment fit the new mill also. We built bins for the table meals. Put up a line shaft, driven from a pulley on the other end of the engine crank shaft, to drive the corn sheller, a fanning mill, and a huge grind stone, to sharpen the picks we sharpened the stone burrs with; and an elevator to fill bins up stairs. Dad had a mightily nice, clean, handy layout. He could keep quantities of grain stored in the added space it gave him, on a strong floor also.