The Old Machinery

Carey Attkisson and crew, on the old machinery. (Courtesy of Carey K. Attkisson, Pine Needle Christmas Tree Plantation, Box 242, Rockville, Virginia 23146).

Carey K. Attkisson

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Carey Attkisson, who owns the Pine Needle Christmas Tree Plantation near Rockville, Virginia has sent us a cross-country story about the way an old binder and threshing machine were transferred from his place to a new owner's site in California.

Carey tells us the transaction started with an ad he ran in GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE. The story was written up by Steve Clark in the Richmond News Leader, and it makes an interesting tale.

The metal binder and threshing machine had been the property of Carey's uncle, Shepherd Lloyd, who operated a threshing business many years ago. Shepherd's father, Joseph Lloyd, had preceded him in the business. They served farmers in Goochland and Hanover Counties.

Shepherd Lloyd got the cooperation of neighbors. Carey recalls that about 15 people were needed, with several teams of mules and wagons. He remembers the big meals that the farmers' wives would prepare for the threshers. 'They would save their best hams for the laborers,' he comments.

Shepherd used wooden machinery for about 30 years, then bought new metal equipment in 1940. He kept this until he retired in 1960, and at his death it was inherited by Carey Attkisson.

Carey was sentimental about the binder and the thresher. So several years ago he put it in working order, and with some fellow Virginians who remembered the old days, threshed and bound some grain. From Attkisson's farm, they moved to the Virginia State Fair, where they could show a new generation the way it used to be done.

Last summer, Carey decided to sell the machinery-but he insisted that the person who bought it must be really interested in it. He did not want it to go to someone who 'would put it in the woods and forget it.'

So, he advertised, not only in GEM, but also in farm magazines and a newspaper.

What happened next is told very ably by Steve Clark in the Richmond News Leader article, which is an excellent piece of writing . . .

One day the telephone rang. The caller was a California rancher and owner of an aircraft components manufacturing firm. He had seen the ad and wanted to know more. Atkisson described the machinery and related its history.

'You'll be getting a check in the mail from me soon,' said Dave Williams of El Monte, California.

In a few days, Williams' check for $750 came in the mail. Now came the logistical problem of moving the two pieces of machinery from Virginia to California. Williams found out that a moving firm would charge about $4,000.

'Hold that machinery for me. I'm sending some men to pick it up,' Williams told Attkisson over the phone.

One Saturday afternoon in late summer, two men showed up at Attkisson's farm in a pickup truck pulling a gooseneck flatbed trailer. It was too late in the day to load the machinery, so they decided to wait until Monday morning. They wanted to go sightseeing on Sunday since they never had been to Virginia.

Monday morning came and the old cooperative spirit Attkisson longs for was in evidence as friends helped to load the machinery on the flatbed trailer. Attkisson's wife, Nellie, painted a sign reading, 'California or Bust,' and stuck it on the thresher. Mrs. Attkisson fed the Californians sandwiches and iced tea, and off they went.

Recently, the Attkissons got a letter from Williams. He said the old binder and thresher had arrived and were resting comfortably on his ranch. 'Next year,' he wrote, 'I'm going to plant a little barley or wheat and use the machinery to harvest it.'

Carey Attkisson said he never would have thought his uncle's binder and thresher would wind up on a ranch in California. But, he added, it sounds like the machinery has found a mighty fine home out there.