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Harvest Tales - Ottawa County 02

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov.

Anna Allison Peck

Harvest during World War II

Taken from her book, Anna Plus: Tales from a Town Called Wells

Summer came and with it the wheat harvest. No one slept after the wheat was ripe till it was cut and hauled to the elevators. Factories were not making any farm machinery so when a tractor or combine or car or truck broke down--it just had to be welded, a part found to replace what was broken, the tire patched, the junk pile searched for a missing part.

Sudden storms, hot winds, pounding rains and hail could reduce a quarter section of forty bushel to-the-acre wheat to five bushel to-the-acre hog pasture, almost in the twinkling of an eye. The wheat harvest was always a feverish race with the elements.

During the Harvest of '43 there came a furious rain storm with sheets of lightning and loud claps of thunder. Combines quit running, empty buckets were hung over exhaust stacks and everyone took cover. There would be no more cutting that day. . . .

All the women were working--in the fields, grocery stores, the elevators, trying to take the places of all the young men at war. Clayton kept the old tires patched up so Anna didn't have to change tires on the wheat wagons--she'd leave a set in the morning and change to a freshly patched set before the day was over. Everyone was travelling on worn out tires. The old ten-foot-cut Holt combine was still holding together with the help of baling wire and hand-crafted hickory poles to replace worn-out steel. No one could get parts or buy new implements--the war effort was taking all the rubber and steel as well as sugar, coffee and cocoa. But still Anna was happy--she was pregnant that harvest.

Anna Peck also submitted Trapped in a Straw Stack.

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.