RIVERSIDE Wheat threshing might not be particularly interesting but it sure proves fascinating to youngsters when done with antique machinery.
Fifth graders from Okanogan and Malott and eighth graders from Tonasket attended a real old-fashioned threshing bee at the Jones wheat ranch near here Friday.
Evans Jones and his son Tom brought out the antique machinery to show the youngsters how their grandfathers threshed wheat. They drove out a 1911 Case Steam Tractor that belched white smoke and crawled along on its all-metal wheels.
But the big attraction was the 1914 vintage grain separator. An 1894 Buffalo Pitts steam tractor provided the energy to power the separator when some of the old-timers limbered up to show the youngsters how the machinery worked.
The field trip wasn't just a chance for the youngsters to get out of the schoolroom. What they learned tied into their school work.
For the fifth graders, the outing provided a chance for them to see the practical side of history they were learning in social studies.
Throwing a couple pieces of wood into the furnace of an old steam tractor made a deeper impression than any amount of studying about old-time harvesting methods.
The only break in the decorum of the fifth graders came when someone pulled the whistle cord. The youngsters lit out in all directions expecting the engine to explode anytime.
For the Tonasket eighth graders, the trip was part of their classroom work in conservation. They make six or seven trips a year to see practical aspects of conservation on farms and in forest areas. The reports they write up are graded both as English and science studies.
Gordon Woodrow, Okanogan County agent, and Les Clemon, the executive secretary of the Washington Assn. of Wheat Growers, brought both groups up on the modern aspects of wheat growing.
The following is a letter from F. F. Schmidt, Bridgeport, Washington to his friend Clarence E. Mitcham, Route 7, Mead, Washington.
Sending you a clipping out of Daily World of Wenatchee given the schools at their threshing experience at Jones on Oct. 11, 1968.
To start with, wife and I went up the nite before and got all settled in trailer with the weather a little threatening of rain. Mel Anderson had come earlier in the day and helped complete the array of machines put on display around the threshing site. Details 'hashed' out the nite before. Friday morning, I steamed up the bigger Case and the Pitts. Had the Pitts all to myself - moved out and belted up and started threshing with all the eyes and mouths open of the school youngsters.
The Mr. Clemons, executive secretary of Wheat Growers of Ritzville gave history and problems of wheat farming in slow and understandable talk for the class that was taking notes. Sprinkling rain by this time at 11:30 A. M., Mr. Jones suggested we have the lunch hour and continue afterwards. Instead of rain stopping, it was raining pretty hard, belts began to be slipping so the balance of the threshing was postponed and the engines put in repose at their usual parking places.
(Mr. Mitcham then sent us the picture and clipping and wrote the newspaper for authority to use same.) We thank The Wenatchee Daily World for permission to use the picture and article 'What's Threshing Bee?'.