Route 12, Box 331, Statesville, NC
This summer began like summers before. My dad, Don Gwaltney (of Route 3, Taylorsville, NC 28681), planted his wheat, just waiting for harvest time. Finally harvest time arrived and all of our family and friends joined together to cut the wheat with my dad's antique binder. In ninety degree temperatures we began shocking wheat.
At the Gwaltney farm everyone works very hard to complete the threshing. This year was a special year for my dad's threshing, as his only grand-daughter, my niece, announced she would like her wedding to take place at her grandfather's wheat threshing. My dad was very proud of her decision--it seemed to add a special pleasure to the event.
The wedding would take place at 12 o'clock noon on threshing day. The ceremony was to take place on the front steps of the Gwaltney home place, built by the bride's great grandfather.
On Saturday morning, July 7th, we awoke to a very foggy morning and everyone immediately began to worry. This was threshing day and also wedding day. It looked a lot like rain, but we all had work to do, so we began.
My dad started a fire in the firebox of the steam engine to get the pressure high enough to thresh. My mother, sister, aunts, cousins and myself began to prepare the noonday meal. The noon meal is a main event, for threshers are known to have very big appetites. Friends attending bring picnic baskets so as to provide enough food for the large crowd of people attending the event.
My nephew and his wife were up at dawn picking wild flowers in the fields to decorate the house for the wedding. Most of the decorations were running cedar, shasta daisies and blackeyed susans, and they made a most appropriate setting for the special event. Finally the decorations were completed and we were most thankful that we had a beautiful day for the wedding.
At ten o'clock, my dad blew the whistles on his skid-type Farquar steam engine. It was the sign everyone was waiting for. This is when the wheat threshing begins. Everyone takes his place, the huge engine hisses while the smoke billows from the smokestack. The flywheel begins to turn faster and faster, pulling the belt connecting the threshing machine.
My husband and cousins began feeding wheat into the threshing machine, the dust and chaff filling the air as the machine separated the wheat from the straw. My dad's good friend Lex Daniels collected the wheat as it spilled from the machine. The straw passed to the baler where it was baled.
Just before neon, all work was stopped. It was almost wedding time. The steam engine was now silent except for an occasional hiss and a small stream of smoke from the smokestack.
At the house, decorations were complete, the food was all prepared, and a group of three hundred people had gathered in the yard under a big oak tree. A hushed silence could be felt while everyone waited for the ceremony to begin.
Wedding music suddenly filled the air and a young bride, escorted by her father emerged from the back of the house. They passed along the side of the house to the front steps where the groom was waiting. My mother and father had a place of honor on the porch. The pastor chose a beautiful passage of scripture for the double ring ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding.
Afterwards everyone enjoyed the lunch and the young couple cut their wedding cake.
Then my dad and the threshing crew got back to work in the field and the young couple departed for their honeymoon and a home of their own.
My dad is now seventy-three years of age and is planning to thresh again another year, if his health continues to be good. Right now he has ground broken and plans to sow his wheat this fall.