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Harvest Tales - Dickinson County 02

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

Evelyn Shetter

Noon Meal for Threshers

"Is that all the potatoes you have cleaned? You've been at it over and hour now, and it will soon be time to get them on to cook," my Mother said as she hurried by me with a bucket of fresh water she had just pumped from the well. She was headed for the kitchen to cool the five chickens she had just cleaned and dressed. . . .

It was a day full of excitement and anxiety. The big threshing machine pulled by a steam engine had come rumbling through the yard to the designated place where my Father wanted his straw stack to be. . . . Neighbors with teams and hay racks came to help load bundles, help set-up and operate the large machine, scoop grain (no elevators nor augers, remember). All this was like a parade on main street right here in our own back yard. . . .

I was no speed demon when it came to scraping potatoes. There were also carrots and beets to brush and they were even worse to do because they stained. Usually there were green beans or peas from the garden to use as a vegetable. Of course, these had to be stemmed, broken and podded. Mom sometimes had a casserole such as scalloped corn or macaroni and cheese which was baked in a portable oven she placed on our 4-burner oil stove that we used in summer instead of the cook stove. From the above mentioned foods, Mother's dinner menu would probably look like this:

  • Fried chicken
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Green beans and/or scalloped corn
  • Carrot salad and beet pickles
  • Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions
  • Bread, butter and jelly
  • Fruit pies (baked that morning)
  • Ice tea and coffee

It was a busy morning and it went fast. . . . With Dad as the leader, the hungry crew passed swiftly through our hot kitchen, to a somewhat cooler dining room . . . doors and windows all open. (After that many people held the screen door open, someone had a job swatting flies for a while). There was a moment's silence and someone said Grace. Then the dishes started their circle around the table from one man's hands to the next, many times not making the circle before it was empty. Of course it was our job, (Mother and I) to keep all the dishes full, also the glasses. . . My Mother bowed her head in shame if she under-estimated and ran out of food.

The conversation around the table varied from happenings of the morning, discussions of their toils and labors, personal problems, neighborhood gossip, etc. It didn't take long to sense a oneness in the group . . . a team effort was the end result . . . from pitching bundles to deciding who would get that last piece of rhubarb pie.

Evelyn Shetter also submitted Evening on a Threshing Day.

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