06 Aug Megan: Harvest Flashback to the 1960’s
Not only does harvesting run on the Roland side of my family, but it actually traces back to my mom’s side of the family as well. My uncle, Allen English, graduated from Hay Springs High School (located in northwestern Nebraska) in 1964. After graduation Uncle Al was in contact with a harvest crew ran by Paul Schiffner and decided to join them on their harvest run for the summer. My Grandpa Fraser drove him to Alva, Oklahoma, where the Schiffner crew began. They followed the harvest through the wheat belt and had many stops along the way through the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska (bypassing South Dakota) and up into North Dakota, about 25 miles south of the Canadian border.
Uncle Al was a truck driver for the crew and returned the following summer, in 1965, for another harvest run. While they were cutting around Alva, Oklahoma he accidently wrecked a truck and the boss “let him go.” After that Uncle Al hauled bails around the Kiowa, Kansas area for about two to three weeks until a local crew hired him on for the summer. He joined Charlie Sappington’s crew, from Cordell, Oklahoma who ran two Gleaner combines. Uncle Al was a combine operator for him all summer. This crew also followed the wheat harvest and even went into Wilson, North Dakota to harvest malt barley.
In the summer of 1966 Uncle Al went back on harvest with the Sappington crew where they began in Cordell, Oklahoma and worked their way north to Scranton, North Dakota. While working in Scranton, Uncle Al recalls living in an old school bus that had 4 bunks and a total of 8 beds in it. The bus had no shower, toilet or any sort of running water or electricity. A friend who owned the filling station in Scranton would hook up a shower in the back and let the crew clean up after hours. He also remembers bringing a bar of soap to Lake McConaughy near Ogallala, Nebraksa to bathe after they finished working for the day.
Now, in his 60’s, living in Colorado Springs and succeeding as a business man, Uncle Al still recalls the many fond memory of his harvest adventures.
Unfortunately, we were not able to track down any photographs of Uncle Al from his harvest days. Although we did run across this photo when he was about 18 years old, just around the age when he was following the wheat harvest.
Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.