BEGINNER'S LUCK

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Chappell, Nebraska 69129

The day was so hot that the sun beat upon the boy with evil intent. The old combine sat in the searing sun, dejected and forlorn, as though saying, 'I have cut so much wheat I don't want to digest any more.' The old model D John Deere tractor turned over with an occasional snort, as if to reply, 'Come on, let's get at it.'

Forrest Saint's wheat was ready and waiting to be harvested and binned, and the young teenager stood dejected and puzzled as he studied the ancient machine. He could not understand why the straw would not go into the mow of the gallent old combine.

The boy's father was standing in front of the cylinder studying its interior. 'Son, we'd just as well pull this piece of junk on home and call it good,' he said.

The boy walked over and ran his finger over the edge of the worn out concaves of the cylinder. 'Let's wait until morning,' he replied. A plan was already forming in his mind, 'Would that $65.00 check I received for that paint job pay for a new set of cylinder bars?' he mused.

The next morning the boy and his father made their way to Chappell and bought the new bars. A half day's work plus a lot of balancing and filing made the old Baldwin ready to try once more.

They turned the ancient two cylinder tractor over, bringing it to life. The combine's model B Ford engine started after much prodding and they pulled into the wheat. The platform auger would not take the straw into the cylinder much better than before it had been repaired.

The boy stood in front of the platform studying the problem and suddenly the light dawned! He checked the left auger end; all the shims were out! Then he checked the right end and found the same thing. He ran his fingers under the auger edges; they lacked an inch and a half of even coming near the auger pan. Here lay the answer to the riddle. The teenager turned to his stooped-shouldered father and said, 'Pop, go home and bring me an anvil, all the cold chissels you can find, two or three hammers, all the stone bolts you can find. I'll need a hand drill and a hand emery. Out behind the garage there's an old metal windmill wheel. Bring it and all the heavy gage tin you can find.'

The man looked puzzled so the boy explained, 'This is going to be a lot of work, but here goes. I'm going to build up the auger in this old brute.'

'But it won't work,' the father replied.

'Well, we can't get a new 12-foot auger, so I'm at least going to try.'

Hour after hour the boy drilled and chisseled, cutting out new semicircular sections 16' long. His arms grew so tired, his fingers were bloodied, his fingernails disappeared, blisters grew, and the sweat ran down into his eyes, but the next day things began to shape up. The job was crude by modern standards and when they started the combine engine and engaged the clutch, 'Boy! What a racket!' Two hours later the high spots were filed off and they were ready to try out the Rube Goldburg machine once more.

They pulled into the waiting wheat; the governor on the combine engine came open with an ear splitting roar; the old combine came to life and the ripe straw went into the combine mow with a golden flow. The old combine had never worked better, even when she was new.

The boy turned to his father, whose face was lit with a triumphant smile. The boy stopped the tractor and his father came and put his toil-worn arms around his son, 'Lyle you have whipped the old girl this time. Now we will cut wheat.'

Forrest Saint, who had been watching the struggle of the man and his boy smiled and said, 'Elmer now you are in business! Go to it!'

This was a couple of days in the life of a country kid, back some forty years ago.