South Central Kansas
Carrying Water to Threshers
As a town boy growing up in Marion, Kansas, with three sets of uncles and aunts on farms about eighteen miles away, I got some sense of what was going on in east-central Kansas farms. The summer after I was nine years of age, I spent the whole school vacation on one of these farms. . . .
That summer of 1931 I began my fascination with Kansas wheat harvest, and as I now know harvesting styles were in a transition at that time. I watched my uncle go through a field with a horse drawn binder, spewing out wheat bundles. I carried water to him in a gallon jug wrapped in wet burlap and I experimented with putting the bundles into a shock, with the wheat heads on top. When the neighborhood harvest crew arrived, along with a huge threshing machine, the excitement built up. The threshing machine was placed in the corral, where it was powered by a big tractor and a long belt and I watched the horse-drawn wagons arrive from the field, piled high with wheat bundles. They were carefully driven along side the belt to positions on each side of the threshing machine and the bundle-wagon drivers pitched bundles into the threshing machine, trying carefully to have the head-side of each bundle going into the separator first. I watched the straw stack build up and the grain in half-bushel increments deep into the box wagon. When this wagon was full I followed it to a nearby granary in the barn and watched it being shoveled into the bin. Again I was carrying water to the busy harvest crew in those familiar gallon jugs wrapped in wet burlap. Additional excitement came with the noon meal-those bountiful chicken, beef, and vegetables and delicious bread and dessert, and lemonade disappeared quickly and the crew was back at work within an hour. Late in the afternoon, the harvest crew received a snack of a meat sandwich and more lemonade. About dusk the harvesters went home to begin early the next morning.
Homer Socolofsky also submitted Working as a Harvest Hand.