North Central Kansas
Eda Jean Hildreth
In 1936 My Parents Were Among the Desperately Poor Farmers
In 1936 my parents were among the desperately poor farmers. Yet they were able to buy, on contract, a farm made available due to foreclosure. A renter had most of the cropland planted to wheat. We moved there in the spring so harvest soon came. We had not been wheat farmers. The renter hired a neighbor who had a pull-type combine to harvest the wheat. We didn't buy the growing crop so had no interest in it.
The harvester had lots of trouble with his combine. Each time he had to work on it, he would leave a little pile of wheat on the ground. He didn't ever pick it up. My mother just couldn't stand to see that waste. She took us kids (6 & 12), a shovel, a broom and the wash tub in our little red wagon from one pile to another until the tub was filled. We'd take it to the yard, dump it in a little 2 wheeled trailer, then repeat the process until the trailer was full. She'd hitch the trailer onto the car, go to the elevator and sell the wheat. We hauled enough wheat to have money to buy the much needed linoleum for the kitchen floor. How many would manage like that today?
That was my introduction to wheat hauling. The next year we had a combine and a 4-wheel trailer and I was 13 or so. I got the wheat hauling job. When I got to [the] elevator we'd have to unattach the trailer, they'd lift the front part and pour out the wheat, reattach the trailer and I'd go for another load. I've hauled at least one load of wheat from that farm every harvest since then. Now I'm 76 years old and I drive the truck while my husband combines. . . . I have a Master's Degree and taught in secondary education for 33 years, and still love to haul wheat.