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Harvest Tales

Northeast Kansas

Atchison County

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at KansasMuseum@kshs.org.

Clarence Franklin

City Slicker

John Junior Armstrong submitted the following reminiscence written by a cousin of his father's, Clarence Franklin, in 1973. Then retired as head of the psychology department of Labette Community College at Parsons, Franklin recalled summers helping his Uncle Tom and Uncle Jim.

"Each summer it was a great treat for me, the city slicker, to go up to the Armstrong ranch where I was taught the fine arts of shocking wheat. Uncle Jim, the old bachelor, lived nearby, so of course added another "Boss" to the crew. I always thought slavery had ended when they shot Lincoln, but 4 a.m. every morning we'd hear "Time to roll out boys, if you want those muscles to get strong you have to exercise them." When wheat ripened Uncle Tom and Uncle Jim ran binders pulled by black horses, Uncle Tom liked black horses, and we shocked. Oh! How sore our fingers got from picking up bundles by the twine. If a twine happened to break we were shown how to bind wheat using a couple of sheaves of wheat. Aunt Carrie and the girls would load a wagon with fried chicken, coleslaw, homemade ice cream and ice tea. The ice was unpolluted ice cut from the pond or the Delaware River during last winter and buried in sawdust in the icehouse. Such luxury!"

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.