Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler: 31 Husking Corn – 1939

I have graduated from High School in 1938. I want to go to college, but my finances not allowing and my plans indefinite, I have agreed to stay at home and work on the farm of my father, Ernest Wheeler. My next older brother, Charles, has settled in farming. Sometime along I agreed that I would continue to work until corn husking is done this Fall, planning to attend college the second term at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. (Billy Graham was an upper class-man when I was there. He was already making a name for himself and well known around campus.) This college was chosen because of its reputation as a fine Christian institution.

Summer was ending in Kansas. The worst of the August heat was broken, although it occasionally showed a reluctance to depart. Mornings were cool. The Denver weather report described frost there in late September. One could hear a dry rustle in the corn fields and ears of corn were full. The sun rose later and set earlier.

In early October Dad decided it was time to start husking corn. The corn that was wanted for fodder had already been cut while somewhat green. The wagon was prepared. Its box was twelve feet long, four feet wide and three feet high. We heightened the box by adding boards a foot higher–adding four feet side boards on the left side. These were called “bang boards” by many farmers. As we husked the ears from the standing rows, we threw them against the boards, and they dropped into the box. A full load would be forty-five bushels in the ear. The team of horses would stay on the row that the wagon straddled, needing only a word uttered to move on or to stop.

Dad would buy boxes of kind of a flannel glove made for this purpose, as a pair was apt to wear through within two days. We also had a metal hook mounted on a metal plate and attached to our hand over top of the glove. One quick thrust of the hook opened the husk, than a bend over the other hand, and the ear was out and on its way to the wagon by air. (I still have that hook in my cottage – 2009.)

The harvest of 80-100 acres was on its way. Mornings were often frosty at the early hour just after sunrise when we went to the field. Sometimes we would be in the field next to the Albert Weishaar farm about a mile from home when we would see brother Bob’s school bus taking him to high school in Effingham.

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