2127 Winters Drive, Loves Park, Illinois 61111
Among the 'Old Thresher' award recipients of the 1980 Mt. Pleasant Old Threshers and Settlers show was my father, L.W. Huff of New Sharon, Iowa.
Dad had always been interested in mechanical things 'since I was five years old' as he comments. He was especially crazy about steam railroad locomotives and traction engines. His initial threshing experiences began on his father's farm near Grandview, Iowa in Northern Louisa County when he was 10 or 12 years old. He cut bands on an Ault-man 'American' hand-fed separator. When he was 15 years old, his father put him on the binder at harvest timea Champion six-foot which was used for many years. A used Deering six-foot eventually replaced it.
Dad also recalled stacking grain a season or two when my grandfather decided to thresh from the stack instead of the shock. This may have been when they hired the hand-fed separator.
Sometime after this, my grandfather became a shareholder in a company rig owned by a company of 12 or 14 neighborsi.e. 1/12 or 1/14 interest. At first they owned a 12 horse Frick engine and Nichols and Shepard 28' separator. This engine was shortly replaced by a new Nichols and Shepard 15 horse single engine and a little later the separator was replaced with a new Nichols and Shepard Red River Special 32' separatoraround 1910 or later.
Dad was the water monkey for many seasons using a team of his father's and the water wagon the ring owned. He also operated the 16 horse engine a number of seasons, pulling an Appleton silage cutter filling silos.
One recollection of Dad's is of one fellow on the rig who always wanted pie first at dinnertime. He was afraid he wouldn't have room for it later, he claimed. (Those ample threshing day meals!)
Dad recalls a year when the rig pulled 10 miles west or so to thresh a run near Fredionia where no other rig was available. He was the water monkey on this run. At one farm he slept in an attic on a feather bed. It was a hot night, too, he remembers! Pulling home after completing the run, he and the engineer and separator man slept in the railroad yard at Columbus Junction as dusk overtook them (as they knew it would).
This custom outfit was a complete McCormick Deering rig22' steel separator pulled with a 10-20 tractor. It was owned by two neighbors. For years they did a lot of custom work until displaced by the small combines. Dad recalled that they fed this separator from both sideskept the bundles in linedidn't crowd itthe feeder governor and the steady power of the renowned 10-20 took care of all in good shape.
My grandfather lost the farm in the Depression and after his death we lived near Burlington for three years where Dad rented a farm just west of town and a little east of Highway 34 not far from the Fairgrounds. In this neighborhood Dad hired a McCormick Deering threshing rig similar to the aforementioned except that this 10-20 was on rubber (factory spoke wheelsnot cutdowns).
With the exception of two years, Dad's gas threshing was with McCormick Deering separators. In 1942, we moved to the Newport community close to the Louisa-Des Moines County Line. That year Dad threshed with a ring of neighbors who hired a Case 28' separator pulled with a John Deere D on steel. In 1948 we moved to Jefferson County, northeast of Fairfield. Dad decided to thresh again after combining since '43. He threshed with a neighbor who owned a 28' McCormick Deering separator pulled with a streamlined John Deere A. They threshed with this one three seasons: '48, '49 and '52. At the time we moved there were six custom rigs pulling in this neighborhood. Among these was Pete Bucher's rig33' Port Huron Thresher (now owned by Mt. Pleasant Association) and Hart Parr tractor. Dad's last threshing was in '53.
We traded work that summer baling hay and threshing with another neighbor who owned a 20' Belle City separator (wood frame) pulled with an AC DC. It was a fitting way to climax Dad's threshing experiences.
In 1960 Dad sold his farm to a neighbor and we moved to New Sharon where I rented a farm for three years before selling out and moving to Rockford, Illinois. I worked a couple of falls at the Maasdam Sorghum Mill near Lynnville as general laborer. In 1962, Dad began working there and did so through 1974 as fireman. He fixed a boiler furnishing steam to run an Atlas 10 x 13 stationary engine that powered the machinery in the mill and used steam heat for evaporating the juice. This engine came from the Pella Stacker Company which made the famous Garden City feeders and weighers for threshing machines.
Dad began operating gas tractors in 1916. His tractor experiences were recalled in the March-April 1964 IRON MEN ALBUM article 'Tractor Veteran of 46 Years Experience.'
In 1914, he began with motor cars. The first car Dad drove was a 1914 Overland right-hand drive owned by his father. Then he got a used Ford T of his own and worked on up from that.
He gave up driving and sold his last cara 1962 Chevroletseveral years ago, because of age.
In addition to the Mt. Pleasant show, Dad has attended other shows in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. He enjoys all of them.