More fun found in Grandpa's geneology files. I found a copy of an article published in a magazine. Unfortunately, whoever made the copy did not include the magazine title or date in the copy. The article is a story written by my father's cousin Tom. I believe it's about his step-grandfather who married Tom's grandmother before he was born. I don't know where or when this story was first published. Tom would later profess vows with the Marionists in 1956.
My First Employer
by Thomas Oster
Gramp, to the average person, is a normal man with gray hair and a dark complexion, but to me he isn't comparable to anyone else I have ever met. He is short now, but some pictures of the "good old days" show him to be a good two inches taller than any other patron in Pat's Bar. His face is a dark, reddish-brown, whereas the top of his head is tinted baby pink, for it has been protected from the sun by an old tattered straw hat. His hair, what's remaining, has been bleached white by sixty-five years of work.
Grandfather is a jack of all trades and a master of many. When the weather is good, he farms and when it's bad he improves and repairs the buildings and equipment.
He is an old timer in some respects but usually won't hesitate to purchase some useful new-fangled dudad if it cuts down his work or helps him to relax. He's got a radio, a phonograph, a telephone, a tractor, and a car, if you want to call it that. The car he has now is a 1935 Packard Limousine. He bought it from his brother-in-law who is a funeral director. The plans for today's tanks must have come from the builder of this car. Any car that Gramp drives has to be built strong. Gramp drives correctly only when he is teaching someone else how to drive. He usually owns a big car for he finds that such make good moving vans. When taking a small calf, sheep, goat or bull to market, he takes out the back seat and chauffeurs the animal away.
City people depend considerably on other people's goods. Gramp, on the other hand, can get along pretty well by himself except for electricity and whiskey. What electricity won't supply usually the whiskey will. Gramp isn't a drunkard; he just gets working power from alcohol.
Grandfather's education was very meager, for his parents were poor immigrants when he was born and reared on the American soil. His small list of English adjectives is supplemented when possible by a cuss word or two. He never uttered a vulgar word or curse, but used cuss words only for emphasis, description, or opinion.
As mentioned before, he worked hard and couldn't get along with any one that didn't. When I began to spend my summer vacations on the farm, he took it upon himself to make me a good worker, no matter how much it would hurt me. The day began at six o'clock for me. Gramp would be up at five-thirty but wouldn't wake me until six. From about six-thirty in the morning until seven o'clock ay night we worked. Breakfast was at seven, dinner at twelve, and supper at six. No periods of rest or relaxation followed the meals, except on Sundays.
Life on the farm can be very interesting; for there are only a few jobs that have to be done every day. There are seldom two days alike, for a farmer has a large variety of jobs. One day a farmer may be doing carpentry work; the next day he may be out fixing a fence.
I got up and dressed from six to six-fifteen. I then staggered downstairs, washed up and went outside to do morning chores until Grandmother made breakfast. For breakfast, we always had eggs in some form or other. After breakfast I fed and watered the chickens, while Gramp prepared for his work that day. In the beginning, the days I worked with Gramp were few and far between. My main job was to keep the place clean, healthy and orderly.
When I was thirteen years of age, Gramp began to show me how to farm. Up until then, it was theory; now the practice began. At the breakfast table Gramp would tell me what he wanted; then it was up to me to do it. My first jobs were small, maybe just to harrow a field. The harnesses were heavy, and the horses were very big when I began to work with them. Life was a little lonely at times, for often I was out in a large field for as long as eight hours at a stretch with no one to talk to except the horses, and they were always too busy to say anything.
After the crops were planted the farm work lightened a little, but there was always cultivating to be done, either by machinery or by hoe. Near the top of the list of those things which I don't like to do was hoeing.
When summer began to fade and harvesting time approached, all odd jobs were dropped. The grain bags were inspected, patched and counted. The granary was cleaned and set up. After the machinery was put in shape the available farmers were asked to come over on a specified day and thresh Gramp's crops.
When the threshing machine arrived, the turmoil began. The filled wagons and trucks of grain were driven one at a time along side of the machine. The bundles of grain and straw were thrown on a conveyor belt coming out of the machine. From the opposite end hung a long, large stove-pipe affair. Out of this snorkel came the straw, chaff and plenty of dust. The grain was separated from the straw within the machine and came out by way of a worm gear, through a chute and into burlap bags. The filled bags of grain were thrown on a truck and hauled off to the granary where they were emptied. At dinner time the machines were turned off and the crew washed up in some basins setting outside before coming into the house to eat. After dinner the bustle began again and didn't stop until about five o'clock.
The work was hard then, but as the years rolled by new machinery was developed, and the farmer could live a little easier.
Gramp "combines" his crops now and saves himself a lot of hard work. The combine moves over the field and separates the straw from the grain. The grain collects in a bin on the side of the combine and then is transferred into bags. Gramp can thresh his crops now with just two or three men, whereas before he needed to engage maybe fifteen men.
Gramp's crops aren't as large as they were in bygone days, for his body is worn and his movements slower. His thoughts and actions turned more towards God as the years flew by. He receives the sacraments often and even abstains from his whiskey during Lent.