Cover illustration of Threshing Days book. Photo copyright 1990, Estate of Lavern Kammeru
Oldtime threshing scenes are captured in glowing color in the paintings of a Wisconsin farmer-artist who showed life as it was.
The scenes of farm life are collected in a book, Threshing Days, published by the Wisconsin Folk Museum in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.
Lavern Kammerude, born in 1915, started painting what he knew in his 50s, and by the time of his death in 1989 had put together a series which are reproduced in the new book.
With each painting is text by Chester Garthwaite, who describes the activity shown, as well as traditional farm practices, and information on other things that happened with farmers and their farming.
IMA readers will be attracted particularly to the painting of a threshing scene with a steam traction engine in the foreground and horsedrawn wagons doing their part of the job.
Part of the text says:
'A steam engine like the one pictured here was seldom owned by an individual farmer. These were owned by custom operators who traveled around the farm communities to do threshing and shredding. The farmers would build huge stacks of bundles, with the 'butts' or ends of the stalks facing out, for shocks would deteriorate before the threshing equipment arrived.
'Notice in the painting that a small pile of coal has been dumped on the ground behind the engine. Very likely a team and wagon is on the way to the nearest railroad warehouse to obtain a fresh load. Wood was seldom used for fuel in the smaller, portable engines. It was essential that the operator get the fire going early in the morning so that the water could be heated to boiling point by starting time.'
Another painting shows 'Dinner for the Threshing Crew.' It depicts a group of threshermen eating on the front porch on a sunny day, and as the text suggests, these were big meals for big eaters.
Many memories will be called up by the paintings and descriptions. Pictures include spring planting, haying time, milking time, the county fair, a farm auction, the country store, a woodcutting bee, and maple sugaring.
Whether the reader is from Wisconsin or not, he (or she) will be interested in the many nostalgic settings. Farm customs may differ from those of Wisconsin, but running throughout is the hearty, wholesome theme of the life of the farmer.
Lavern Kammerude was born on the family farm near Blanchardville, Wisconsin. He practiced 'plain, old fashioned farming,' rebuilt auto parts, and kept race horses. Painting was a childhood hobby which he took up again when his mother gave him a set of oil paints one Christmas.
He sold paintings and reproductions, and won several awards. Customers liked the realism and the color, as well as his faithful attention to accuracy in detail.
The book's first edition of 10,000 copies sold out and it has been reprinted. To order a copy postpaid, send $23.00 to Stemgas, P.O. Box 328, Lancaster, PA 17603.