foreword by kenneth yeasting>

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Well let's see. Well, thrashing. That was always a big deal. And cutting the wheat. I can remember we had a four-horse binder [used to cut the wheat] Grandpa drove for several years, then Dad drove it. I can just remember we put our wheat – you know, put it in bundles, then we put it in shocks, twelve bundles to a shock. And you gathered them up and put them in these shocks [a number of grain sheaves stacked together on end to cure and dry] for the thrashing crews.

I can remember one of the things I used to do – Mom used to buy Karo [corn syrup] in quart tin buckets. It had a lid on them and a bail, and we used those for water. And one of my jobs when I was real little was walking down through the fields with that bucket of water to the people doing the shocking which would generally be my Dad and a hired man. And then as I got a little older, probably nine, yeah, I can remember – let's see. I moved away from the first farm [the Thompson farm], we moved to Null farm when I was ten. So probably eight or nine I was out helping shock a little already. And at that point, I think, Grandpa – yeah, Grandpa was still – he ran the binder, Dad was shocking along with the hired man, and I think it was Walter Warriner at the time. And I remember I was doing a little shocking. I wasn't expected to keep up with the adults, of course, but I did some. And I always remember looking down the field and seeing a man coming toward us shocking wheat. Now what? And find out that Dad and Walter and – "Gee, wonder who that is?" We didn't have anybody else out there. We got a little closer and I recognized him. It was Uncle John. He'd come home from college and changed his clothes and came right out and started in shocking wheat and working towards us. He was at the University of Michigan at the time. That would have been about – well, he was probably a junior or senior, twenty – well, let's see. If I was nine, that would have been '28. Well, he graduated class of '29, so that's about right. So that's about the timing on that. That was a lot of fun.

And then, of course, thrashing day. As a little kid I used to have to meet the farmers and their hired help as they came in with the loads with the water bucket. And later on when I got to where I could handle the shovel, I was in the wagon where the grain came into – out of the separator or the thrasher [used to separate the wheat from the chaff] and shoveling it in the wagon so that we could fill the wagon up.

Well, let's see. What else. Can't seem to think of anything else offhand. I can remember – well, by the time I was about high school, starting high school probably, I was able to take a team of horses, for example, and a cultivator or cultipacker and go work. [A cultivator or a cultipacker are horse drawn agricultural implements used to destroy weeds and loosen the soil in a field where a crop is growing.] I never did any hand plowing. I just wasn't big enough and rugged enough for that. And then, of course, in '37 when I went off to college [The University of Michigan] was the year that Dad bought a new car and bought the tractor. That was the first tractor in our area, and it was called the “Oliver Tip Tow.” And I remember it was a seventy horse, seventy horsepower, I think, on the draw bar. I forget what it was on the belts. And then as I spent my summers at home, I put a lot of miles on that tractor cultivating corn, planting, doing everything on the farm that you can think of.

Another thing I mentioned was the thrashing. Old Lou Dow had a steam engine with a canopy over the top and all, and that's what powered the thrashing machine. He lived about five miles from us, I would say. And, anyhow, they would come around, he and his fireman for thrashing. Well, I can remember as a little kid when we were still living at the Thompson place hitching a ride on that thing. And it would go, like, from our farm, to the Thompson place, over to the main barn, a distance of a little over half a mile, and I would get to ride on it, which was quite the big deal. That thing chugged and huffed and puffed along at the rate of about two miles an hour, I would say, because it would take a half hour to get over there at least. And that was quite the big deal. All us kids tried to sneak rides on that thing when we could, but you were just moving so slow you actually had to walk slow or you'd walk right past it.

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