The Adventures of Me & My Shadow # 91 in MD & VA 10/20/2003

29 miles this trip. Odometer now 42,873. Miles this year 8,411.

From MD Hi Everyone!

By the calendar I see it is now October and all the smart birds are headed south, it’s about time for me to join them. I see the corn harvest in this area is about finished, the thought crossed my mind as to how the harvesting of corn has changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid the corn was all harvested by hand, when you look at the cornfields today you will say "No way could corn be harvested by hand". Well, the cornfields have also changed a lot in 70 years, in the old days the corn stocks were separated by 42 inches now it is about 8 inches. The rows used to be 42 inches apart, now they are less than half that. As I was getting older I got to pick some corn by hand, I was never very good at it and I was sure glad when the mechanical corn pickers showed up. We would wear a corn picking hook on the palm of our hand, this would allow us to open the shucks, grab the ear of corn, break it off and throw it at the bang-board in one sweeping motion. (the bang-board was an extended side board on the wagon that went about 4 foot higher than the other side. The ear of corn would bounce off the bang-board into the wagon. There used to be Corn-picking contests and I remember the really fast ones would throw one ear of corn and before it hit the bang-board another ear was on its way.

I had an interesting adventure when I was about 16 years old with a mechanical cornpicker. It was after I dropped out of highschool because it was more fun working. I was running a two-row cornpicker mounted on an M Farmall tractor for my boss, he had contracted to have me pick a field of corn for a farmer in another county. I was on my way, pulling two flare-box wagons with a drum of tractor fuel in one of them, headed southeast on the highway about ½ mile out of Laurel, NE when the right rear axle on the tractor broke. That side of the tractor and cornpicker dropped down onto the fresh new asphalt finish and something made a deep gash in the new asphalt. Before I could call my boss to have him come to help me get it off the road the state highway people were there, giving me hell for tearing up the new asphalt. After the tractor was repaired I went on to the field I was supposed to pick. When I filled the first wagon like I always did, the farmer hooked a little John Deer tractor onto it to take it in and unload it. The field was a flat lowland field but the building site where he had to go to unload it was up a steep grade. The little tractor was unable to pull the loaded wagon up the grade. I had to take the tractor with the picker on it in to pull it up the grade. S0, from then on I would only fill the wagons about 3/4th full and we got the job done.

Now they harvest corn with combines that pick the corn and shell it off the ear, they have big grain hauling trucks to haul it out of the fields. It sure doesn’t take them long to harvest a field of corn.

I’m also working on my genealogy files, I now have over 20,000 names in the computer. Not all of them are related to me but they are all linked in some way. I have been going through them looking for errors and duplications and finding more than I expected. I would like to have someone else to blame but I’m the only one working on it. Some times it gets real complicated to remove the duplicate name if the person was married more than once and has lots of children. I am also scanning pictures into the computer so the descendants will know what their good or bad ancestors looked like. I hope to get started printing out the family trees for the younger generations this winter.

Till next time, Dallas or Dad if it fits.


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