RR #1, Box 63, Avoca, Iowa 51521
When I came home from my tour in Germany, my first job in civilian life was at a salvage yard. I believe that was one of the most interesting jobs I have ever had. I learned a lot of things that have come in handy in later years.
Just a few years ago our son David took a job with a local contractor, under the Iowa Job Service. This was a program set up to encourage employers to give high school students a summer time job. The employer actually paid something like one dollar and forty cents per hour. However, the state picked up the rest, up to the minimum wage.
David painted buildings and helped out as an extra hand wherever needed. It seems the boss owned a small farm just out of town and David was painting the buildings. One day David asked me to take him to work. He said the boss couldn't provide transportation that day and besides, there was something he wanted to show me. When we arrived at this farm, he showed me-there were old farm implements setting all over the place. He said the people who had lived there some 10 years before had abandoned everything. His boss had told him he could have it all if it could be cleaned up in two months. If not, it would all be bulldozed into a big pit down by the creek.
We walked around through weeds sometimes over our heads to inspect all the buildings. I made an estimate of 20 tons of old iron. The farm had once had a dairy herd and the special built milk house had a lot of the stainless piping and brass fittings. David's boss said some of these buildings 'would go', sp 'clean up everything.'
That weekend, David and I made an agreement with a farmer friend who lived just a few miles away. We not only needed help, but also a place to store everything temporarily. The friend had a one ton truck and a John Deere tractor with a loader, which we used to lift a lot of the heavy things.
Monday morning our friend and I began to haul away 'our loot'. One of the first items we found was a 'Papec' grinder/mixer. This went to our friend, as it was in working condition except for needing a plate welded under one of the augers. We later found 5 'Papec' forage cutter heads. Three of these were new and were setting on a manure pile in a cattle shed. The other two were for hay of some sort and had been used. We uncovered a 4 section harrow in the weeds. One of the big problems was the place couldn't be mowed. There was such a batch of stuff all over.
We ran across a 'Do All' tractor loader made for a Ford, wide front end tractor. It had been bent slightly by someone running into it with a tractor. This was understandable, as the weeds had grown over my head and I am 6' tall.
One of the real jewels I had found was a John Deere 'Handy Helper' cement mixer. This was ? full of hard cement and setting just outside of what appeared to have been the 'shop'. This building was approximately 30' wide and 50' long. Inside all along the alleyway were shelves piled with old generators, starters, and things we couldn't identify. Also in this building was a separate compartment that looked like it had been an office. We found an older Sears Roebuck air conditioner with the control buttons missing. I later cleaned this up at home and found the buttons (although broken) inside. It worked like a champ after it was all cleaned out. (Later, David traded it on an old John Deere tractor.)
One of the many items we were amazed to find was a rubber tired hay rack. It was piled above the front boards with sections of 7' grain auger. My friend later had an elevator 30 or 40 ft. long, made from just the newer sections. He uses this every summer.
Inside of the shop was a nice cement floor. The best part was, this floor was covered with bolts, nuts, washers, cotter pins, etc. We literally scooped this mixture up with grain scoops, into 5 gallon pails. Many times, when I made the trip to unload, my old Dodge pickup was setting pretty low. Being a carpenter, I confiscated boxes of nails, guttering, tin shingles, etc. These things are used in my trade.
In one of the buildings, we found vee belts. They were hanging as if for sale. There were matched sets. Our friend said some were for the big round balers. There were more belts than a man could carry at one time.
We worked steadily almost every day at our clean-up job. Our friend would get a much later start in the morning because he feeds a lot of hogs and had chores to do. I tried to be out there by 7:00 a.m., as it was cool. I usually had all I could get on my pickup by 10:00 a.m. I would arrive at his farm just as he was about to leave.
Some of the small things I found were lots of parts for a flat head Ford V.-8 car-heads, carb, starter, fuel pumps and air cleaner. These our friend's son got, as he is interested in old Ford cars.
There were new cast iron hog oilers and many other things of this nature. One day I chanced into a building I had not inspected before. There stood a new farrowing crate all set up. There were also several pieces from another. It looked as if the owner had bolted it together and then couldn't get it out of the door. We found two elevator carriers. By this I am referring to the 'two wheeled, rubber tired' carriage a large grain auger is carried on. Our friend intends making trailers with these. They should be very nice except for replacing the 600X16 tires.
It seemed the original owner had dabbled in grain bin construction at one time. We found packages of new sections of round steel bins, lots of ladders, lids, screens, for ventilation, etc. I had noticed lots of the bolts that round bins are assembled with and also bin jacks.
Two weeks later we had the acreage all clean and David's boss had finally gotten it mowed. We were told the place was sold and the new owner took possession on our cut off date. Our friend went happily back to farming and his hogs. My job had just begun.
Since a large portion of the loot was David's, it had to be disposed of. He could only work with me on Saturday and Sunday. We would load for Council Bluff and the salvage yard on his days off. With a sorted load of iron and some boxes of copper and brass, I would leave early Monday or Tuesday a.m. I usually was back by 1:00 p.m. If we had metals along with the iron, I would average close to $100. each trip. David was able to buy several old antique gas engines and tractors with the money.
We still have lots of old things left. I have plenty of bolts, nuts, washers to last a lifetime. We have strap iron, reinforcing rod, 'well' pump rod to make handles for gas engine trucks out of and lots of iron pipe for axles.
I have often wondered what ever happened, that someone just abandoned all 'those treasures'. What is one man's trash, is another man's treasure!