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Harvest Tales

Northeast Kansas

Douglas County

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

Nancy S. Vogel

Governor Alf Landon Visits the Schaake Farm

This is a wheat harvest family memory that goes "way back." It goes back to when my grandfather was farming near Bismarck Station in Douglas County. This land had belonged to the Delaware Indians before William Schaake, my great-grandfather, acquired it.

On July 15, 1935, so the story goes, the Governor of Kansas, Alfred M. Landon, came to the Schaake land to originate a nationwide broadcast via KMBC, "The Story of Wheat." My grandfather, Edward C. Schaake, asked the crew, shirtless before noon, to stop the thresher so that the voices could be heard. The interview began with a question about a nephew of his who played Big Six football at KU (Elmer Schaake, now in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame). Then talk turned to the process of planting and harvesting the wheat.

That day the governor made a plea for Americans to eat one more slice of bread a day. Such was the governor's proposal to help solve the nation's agricultural problems in 1935. As the CBS network broke away to a Kansas City elevator and the Board of Trade, the crowd in the field moved to the farmyard where a meal of fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, and bread awaited them. My mother, Irene, and grandmother, Magdalena, would have had a part in preparing that meal. Perhaps my aunt, Frieda, did too.

When my turn came to help with the food at noon, times had changed. My grandfather had died before I was born, and my father, John H. Vogel, modernized the equipment by harvesting with a combine. He did not want the crew to come back to the farmyard for lunch because to do so would waste time. Consequently, I drove lunches to the field, and the men ate in the shade of the combine or the harvest truck, wherever they could catch a breeze. In the kitchen my mother had prepared sandwiches on bread spread with butter and mayonnaise; she added ham or luncheon meats, cheese, sweet pickles and sometimes thin slices of garden tomatoes. Using waxed paper, she wrapped each sandwich as carefully and gently as she would a Christmas gift. She tucked those in roaster pans. Dessert was often homemade cookies or cherry pie. My father and the hired hands usually kept the jars of fresh ice water with them in the fields so that I returned to the house with empty roaster trays and coffee jars.

Nancy Vogel also submitted Fourth of July.

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