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Back in the good old days when farmers really were farmers, we did many things differently. Yes, we were a closer-knit community. Then, we also got the very most out of every crop. Threshing oats and timothy became a neighborhood/ community affair. Farmers from a one-mile radius would come together to thresh oats and timothy. It turned out to be a celebration of sorts. No king or potentate ever ate a meal as good as the ones cooked and served by the wives of the threshing crew.
While most of the threshing chores were not that dirty or laborious, the job of stacker was hot, dirty, and laborious. Many times, the host farmer might want to style his stack to provide winter forage for his cattle. He might choose to do that job himself or hire some one to do it for him. As I remember, a stacker was paid ten dollars a stack – which was a real chunk of change in those days. Yup, ten dollars and all the iced tea or iced water he liked. Now, stacking straw is a very dirty, hot job. So other than my dad, the only other ones to do that job, as I remember were Joe Sutton, a black guy; Bill Garr, a black guy, and Frank Hunolt.
Mom always made a 5-gallon milk can full of sweet, strong iced tea. The can was placed by the rear wheel of the pulley tractor, this was in addition to the one-gallon jugs that went out to the field. My brother, Donald and I had this twelve-foot fishing pole with a hook on the end. We would fill a half gallon syrup can with iced tea and lift it up to the stacker.
Well we pretty well understood why Joe and Bill would do such a dirty job, I mean even for 10 dollars, because it was more money in a chunk than they saw in their lifetime. But Frank Hunolt was pretty well-fixed farmer. Anyway, these three were pretty important individuals to the threshing crews. One thing all three of these fellas would do as soon as they came down off that stack that evening was to wade right into the pond, clothes and all and get washed off and cooled down. They don’t make men like my dad, Joe Sutton, Bill Garr, or Frank Hunolt anymore. Our societies pretty well bears that out, you might say they are as scarce as hay stacks. If you never met one of these three in your lifetime, you missed a lot.
Contributed by Bill Lewis