Soon after the "turn of the century," my father again was the victim of changing times. After the big packing houses were established in Chicago and better methods of transportation developed, the huckstering business ceased to be profitable, so he quit that and bought another threshing outfit, consisting of a steam traction engine, a separator, clover huller, hay baler and a water tank. This required a crew of four; an engineer, two to feed the grain into the separator and a water boy.
This was some life, hard and dusty work. My father would start out after wheat harvest in July and finish up with hay baling in December. I would go along in the fall until school started, to fatten up for the winter. I can still see those tables after 60 years! Each woman would try to outdo the other. Sometimes there would be 2 or 3 kinds of meat. Often there were 13 or 14 at the table. They would even try to feed us pie at breakfast.
We were usually gone from early Monday until Saturday evening. Some of the homes were log and hot in the fall. We often took blankets and slept in the hay lofts. During these years, father was also secretary to a local mutual fire insurance company, then tax collector. I remember one day Amos King came along and asked for his taxes to be added up as he was going to the next farm and would be back later to pay them.
I prepared his receipts and soon he came back and paid them. In a few minutes, there was a rap on the door and there was Amos. He exclaimed in bewilderment, "I understand this school and county and road tax, but this amount at the last is for 'total' and I don't have any 'total'." I explained that the total was the sum of his taxes and he left happy.
Once a year the directors of the insurance company met to elect officers. That meant a turkey dinner for the 12 and some of their wives, all for the grand sum of $5. We would come home from school to view a well-picked carcass of turkey with no meat remaining. What a disgusting sight for hungry school children!