Courtesy of Herbert Reese, Sr., Greenbush, Minnesota 56726
Sr., Greenbush, Minnesota 56726.
I'll begin with some background on my family and myself. My father, Nick Reese, came to Sheldon, Iowa, from Germany in 1876. He worked on farms and got married at Adrian, Minn. in April, 1893. I was the fourth boy in the family, born January 23, 1900. My father was farming and owned a hay baler and did custom baling in 1909-10-11. I had to tie the wires on the bales all fall and winter of those years and therefore I did not get to go to school too long -- only got through the fourth grade. The hay was shipped to market by rail.
In 1911, my father traded his fine 160 acre farm for more land to keep us boys busy. He got 320 acres of wild land near Badger, Minnesota. There were no buildings on it so he rented a place near Greenbush. He made a poor trade as the land was just brush and rocks. He had four good horses and bought four more for f 800 and also two sets of harnesses and two new six foot Deering Mowers
He sent my two oldest brothers, John and Joe, out to start cutting hay. They had a very bad accident as some hunters were shooting at chickens and shot near the back team and some of the shot hit the team. The horse jumped and my brother, John, fell off the mower. The team ran away and the mower bar smashed into the other mower and scared the second team and they also started to run away. Brother Joe fell off and the horses ran into the woods nearby. Both mowers were smashed and two of the horses had some of their legs nearly cut off. Father had to shoot them. When he lost these horses, he decided to buy a tractor to break up the new land.
Herbert and 12 U.S. customs border patrol agents taking delivery of twelve new four-door 1929 Model Overland Whippet Sedans in May of 1929 at Duluth - were shipped in by water from Toledo, Ohio. Officers were from Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was funny walking down the street. Everyone would look to see who the lone fellow was with the twelve armed guards. (I am in the middle of the picture.)
He found a used 12-20 Titan about two years old. It was a single cylinder gas engine with about 8' piston, had an open crankcase, crankpin lubricated with a grease cup. Cylinder was lubricated with a sight feed drip oiler; also a hit and miss governor. The drive wheels were about 6 feet tall and 18 inches wide. My three older brothers and myself each took turns helping with the breaking with a 24 inch John Deere Jumbo breaking plow. We also did custom breaking for several years with this tractor.
In 1916, my older brothers, John, Joe and William, bought a used 30-60 Rumely and a 36-60 used Aultman-Taylor separator and did custom threshing, breaking and road building. The next year, they bought two other rigs -- a used 30-60 Hart-Parr and a 40-62 Wood Minneapolis separator. William got a 15-30 Rumely and a 32-52 Racine separator.
Herb Reese's big Dragline in June 1952 fording Rostai River with northwest three yard dragline and 70' boom through water 6' deep. Had to take fan belt off big Murphy Diesel engine to keep fan from drawing water.
I was working for Olaf Dalby, the International dealer in Greenbush, repairing and setting up machinery and starting out new Moguls and Titans that he sold to farmers. I got the reputation of being able to fix or start any kind of a machine. Whenever there was any kind of engine or car trouble, they would come and get me. The hardest one to start was an old Rumely. The owner had tried and cranked and primed for several days in threshing time. I told him I could not leave as I was running a tractor at that time, but I had him stay and run the tractor while 1 went and got the Rumely started. I took the igniter out and pushed rags into the cylinder to dry it out. I had the farmer get a long hay fork rope and we wrapped it on the pulley and had him run his horses to spin it. When it started, it threw gas and oil out the exhaust pipe and it set fire to the engine and stubble. I shoveled dirt on the engine to put the fire out while the farmer was beating the fire out with his jacket. Soon had them threshing again. Several times after that, I had to help him get his Rumely started. He was not a mechanic and did not understand machinery.
In July, 1917, the International Company service man wanted to help to repair a 15-30 Mogul and a new Racine Thresher that they had repossessed. It had been sold new in 1913 by Hans Lerum, the International dealer at Strath-cona, Minnesota. The farmers were worried they would not get their crops threshed as there was no other machine around for miles. When the block man for the company came to see how we were getting along with the repairing, I asked him what they wanted for the outfit. He figured about $3,200.00 with repairs and wanted $1,000 down. I wanted to buy the machine but did not have the money. Soon as we got the machine ready, we tried it out and threshed some rye for a farmer. It seemed everybody in the county was there -- all wanting to get their crop threshed. I asked the service man if I could use the machine as I wanted to buy it. I told the farmers I would have to get 1 cent more per bushel and that they would have to work long days which they agreed to do. I found a 1914 generator and rigged up lights. Soon as they got through with the rye shocks, they were ready to start on the stacks. We started at five in the morning and kept on until ten at night. They had a good crop in 1917. It was over three weeks before the company man came back, so by borrowing and collecting from farmers for the threshing, I was able to buy the Mogul outfit. We repaired it with a new cylinder and piston, bearings, cylinder teeth, igniter and everything it needed. It ran real good and I hired Charlie Schaeffer to run the separator.
This is the first machine Herbert bought -a Mogul in July 1917. Sold it in 1920 to Louis Grund, for lumber to build a garage. He used it to power his sawmill until 1940 when he scrapped it. It had a hand wheel to engage belt pulley. About 1919, Herb put a lever in cab to put in clutch from cab -- made a fork to go around the inside of flywheel. That's Herb's 1918 Model T Ford truck he bought used about 1920. That's Herb on the right.
I did well threshing the first year. I threshed long after Christmas and had to shovel snow out between the stacks to get set at last. It got so cold we had to put hot water in to get the Mogul started. When it got to 20 below we had to let it run all night and cover it with canvas. We threshed over one hundred days. It was the longest run I ever put in.
I had lost a $1.00 bet the first day as they were feeding heavy and some rye was coming over the chaffer. I told Charlie he did not have the chaffer open enough, but he did have it open. We checked and only had to cut the wind down.
In 1919 1 took a seven mile road job for Pelan township. I got $300 per mile for a 16 ft. top of road with ditches about two feet deep. There was a lot of rock and clearing to do before we could start grading. I got a 10 ft. Stockland Blade, pulled with the Mogul. I bought three new Fresno horse Scrapers and hired 12 head of horses. I paid $5.00 a day for man and team. The men boarded themselves and fed their own horses. Kerosene was 6 cents per gallon. Got started threshing a little late -- the farmers were waiting. After finishing threshing in 1920, my brothers and I bought a 27 horse Advance Compound Steamer which we took to the woods to saw lumber. We used it for many years. In taking the engine to the woods, I traveled on the road for about thirty miles, towing a sawmill on separator trucks behind it. In crossing the Roseau River Bridge, I noticed the bridge sagging when the drive wheels got on the bridge. I was afraid it was going to drop into the river, so I jumped off and let the machine go across by itself. A short time later they had to put in a new bridge. Those years we always took our road and threshing crews to the woods for the winter. We operated the sawmill for almost twenty years. Every winter we sawed out many thousands of feet of rough lumber. Over those years, the lumber sawed would come to well over a million board feet. I sold out my interest in the steamer and mill to my brother, Joe, in 1929.
In 1922, I met a wonderful girl (who later became by wife) by stopping to ask who was going to thresh for them late in the fall. I knew there was no other machine in the area and 1 was moving by on my way to put my machine away for the season. The husband was in North Dakota helping thresh there. The lady thought it would be nice to get threshed. I got my man to help and also some of the neighbors. A few days later I went to church services and a stranger came up to me and said he wanted to pay me. I said I did not know of anything he owed me. He told me I had threshed for him.
Later, while standing on the street, I was talking to my man when the girl I mentioned before and some other girls were walking on the other side of the street. I bet him a dollar I could take that girl to a show that night. A new silent movie place had just opened in Badger. I won the bet. She asked me to write sometime, when I told her I was going to Milwaukee to work for the winter in a factory. We did correspond. In the summer of 1923, my girl worked in a cook car on a road job helping my sister cook for a bunch of our men. It was a very dry year. I got done early with threshing etc. as the crops were poor.
Early in September, I decided to go up to Canada as I had heard they had big crops. I got to Arcola, in Saskatchewan, in Sept. of 1923. A farmer and store owner, Harry McNeal, had two machines -- a 30-60 Ilumely with a Sawyer-Massey Canadian Separator and a 25-75 hp. Garr-Scott double cylinder steamer with a 36-60 Red Special Separator. Two fellows riding with me hired out to run the Rumely and I helped them get started. I then asked Harry, the owner, if he wanted to hire me to run the Garr-Scott. He said he had enough trouble with the Rumely rig because the fellows were doing a poor job of threshing. They had trouble getting started in the mornings and the only help to get were young English boys sent over to help with the big harvest. He finally told me I looked too much like a kid. He said he was going to let the rig stand if he couldn't get better help. I then told him I would go 50-50 with him. I would run the rig, hire all the help and give him half.
Herb and William Reese stuck near Grainard on way to Minneapolis in 1920. Knocked out piston and rod. Had to patch block and straighten rod. Used leather bearing.
We had to have eight bundle teams, a tank water team and fireman for the big rig. I would run the engine moving and separator, while threshing. He said I should pay all the help, do all my own hiring and collecting from the farmers -- and anything I did not collect he wanted me to take out of my half. As I had a few hundred dollars along, I agreed but he was to furnish parts needed to get the machine in shape to start. 1 got the tank and fireman that McLean had the year before. In checking the engine I found that the boiler was all scaled up and three flues leaking. We worked three days putting in the flues and repairing the machine. The fourth day we were ready to try the engine out and found the red rubber handhole packing was poor. It blew out two handholes and we wasted nearly two days. We could not get any better packing, so I put window screen on each side of the packing to make it hold. Started threshing by the bushel with only four teams. I would have to meet the Canadian Pacific passenger train to see if any men were on there looking for work -- when the train stopped for water at Arcola.
About Herb Reese's job -- in 1928 building a township road with Best 60 doing finishing with a scraper - a 70 gas on blade and Holt 10 ton on blade. Job about 10 miles west of Badger, Minnesota. Anton Johnson on Best and Herman Messenbuk, foreman. Herbert Reese is watching on right.
Finally, I got eight teams and two spike pitchers together but those green kids did not know how to harness a horse, much less drive or take care of them. Some turned so short, they broke the wagon poles and tipped the racks off. 1 was losing money, so told the farmers I had to have $25 an hour or quit-- which was a mistake. I should have stuck to the bushel price as the second week, we were really threshing the wheat as we were averaging over 35 bu. per acre. I would have made much more by the bushel. We threshed until Nov. 10 and it got down to 10 below and there was snow in the shocks -- I was glad to quit. I had to get up at 3 A.M. and walk out to the rig to get steam up. The fireman was always late. It was pitch dark and the coyotes used to howl and give me the chills.
I surely liked that Garr-Scott engine. We were moving up a steep grade to save a couple of miles move and just as we were about to the top 1 blew the whistle and the pipe broke off at the dome. Two of the English kids had tied their teams behind the separator and were riding on the engine. When the pipe broke, they jumped and ran. The steam dropped very fast and the rig started rolling back. I hurried to find some rocks to block the wheels and was calling them to help, but they never came. I was lucky to find enough rocks to keep it from rolling back. The tracks in the ditch showed they made steps at least six feet long going down hill.
I had made about $3,000 for myself. We threshed long days, moved about 4 p.m. and set fire to the straw stack for light, then threshed until nine. Just as I got the machines and help all working fairly good, the Mounted Police came and wanted to see my Engineer's license. At first, I did not know what to say as I only had a Minnesota license and did not dare tell him 1 was from the States. I only had a Tourist's permit. I told him I was working for Harry McNeal. He made me shut down until I got a license. I went to see Harry and drove to Regina that night to see the minister of Public Works the next morning. After questioning me, he said he would give me a 60-day permit to operate and that if the Mounty checked again, he would give me a license.
Ever since I can remember, I was always repairing and making over or wishing for something. In 1911, I wanted a bicycle but could not afford to buy one. I made one out of a couple steel wheels, chains and sprockets with a wooden frame. It was so heavy I had to push it up hill and then ride it down. About the second trip down I ran into a fence post. I was thrown over the top of the post and lost my pants. The bicycle contraption was all smashed up. Later that year my Dad promised me a new bicycle if I would stay home and tie wires. I had threatened to leave so I could go back to school. I stayed and helped and later I sold the bicycle and bought a share in a big Twin Indian Motorcycle with my late brother, Joe. After getting tired of the Motorcycle we decided to buy a car.
We found a 1908 two speed four cylinder Overland. We traded the motorcycle for it in 1913. Had a hard time getting the old car to run to get it home. The valves were leaking and the magneto was weak. We took it all apart and it seemed we worked a whole month on it. We got it running good in the shed and had it sitting up on blocks. My brother, John, speeded up the engine with it still on blocks and in gear. It fell off the blocks and went right out through the single board wall on the back of the shed. John did not even get a scratch as he had laid down in the seat. The car had no windshield or top so it was not hurt too much. It ran good and we used it a couple of years.
In 1915, I got my own car, a Grey Dort with four cylinder Lycoming engine. It had Fisk red top tires. After I had finished threshing and with road jobs I decided to go to Minneapolis for the winter. The trails were all ruts from rain and snow in early November. We were stuck many times and it took a week to make the trip. Near Brainard, the motor was knocking, but thought we could make it by going slow. The rod bolts broke and threw the piston and rod out the side of the block. We ran it on three cylinders to a blacksmith shop, had the rod straightened and got a couple new bolts, put a tin patch on the block, made a leather bearing out of my shoe sole and tightened it up so it burnt the leather. Then we oiled it good and retightened it. It was still running when we got to Minneapolis. There I traded it in on a 1917 Buick 6 Roadster.
I took a job in a boiler shop at the Minneapolis Threshing Co., but the air hammers, calking chisels and the pounding on the plates and rivets was so noisy I could not hear at night. I was told that it was the last year they built steam engines. After a week, I told the foreman I wanted to quit. Then they gave me and another fellow a job hauling coal with Wilcox hard rubber tired trucks (truck made in Mpls.). We shoveled several four ton loads each day and delivered to different shops and homes for officials. After Christmas they shut down for inventory. I decided to go back to Milwaukee.
As I was getting ready to leave, my brother said he had sold the 30-60 Hart-Parr to a party in Madison, Wisconsin. He was to pay the balance when the machine got there by freight, but could not get it started and refused to pay the balance. I stopped on my way and unloaded the Hart-Parr and drove it five miles out into the country out of Madison in Dane County. This was in December 1920 and in 1936 1 had to make a trip to Milwaukee again and thought about the fellow with the Hart-Parr. 1 drove out to see how he was doing and found the old 30-60 Hart-Parr standing right where I had left it 16 years ago. He said that he did not get any threshing or plowing jobs like he had planned and had tried several times to start the tractor, but it would not run. I tried to start it in the evening but could not because it was really stuck. I took and soaked the valves and pistons in oil and kerosene mixed. Next morning, I had him take a team and a long rope and wrapped it on the pulley. 1 had him drive the horses. It started right off and ran good. Had him drive it himself around the yard. 1 showed him again how to start and stop it. Have often wondered if he ever used the machine.
We were married June 10, 1925 in Minneapolis. We had enough savings to build a new home and start housekeeping. We took all our savings out of the Minneapolis Bank and sent it to a Greenbush Bank. When we got back from our honeymoon, found the Farmers & Merchants Bank closed. We had only ten dollars left. As we did not want to live with our folks, we pitched our honeymoon tent and lived in that until I got started threshing. My new bride helped the farm women where I threshed. We were soon able to build a 12' x 24' two room home. From 1926 to 1930 I had the Overland car agency at my shop in the old Creamery Building that 1 had bought in 1924. I quit custom threshing in 1929 as there were too many small machines coming into the area. In 1930, I traded off my Mogul and Racine Separator to Louis Grund at Pitt, Minnesota, for lumber. He used the Mogul for several years to power a sawmill. He sold it for scrap in 1940. I am sorry I did not buy it back -- sure would like to have it now.
Maynard Peterson and Harold Grill in 1929 at Herbert Reese's. Both men are now deceased. The gas tractors are 30 Caterpillars. They were pulling stumps to clear gravel pit when picture was taken.
From 1926 to 1930 my salesman and I sold about 500 Whippets, Over-lands, Willys and Willys Knight Cars. I sold the Border Patrol twelve new Whippets in one order. In 1930, the Overland Co. went broke during the depression. 1 had to take back over thirty cars. Nobody had any money and times were hard. I was glad 1 could get a few township and county road jobs. I had an Austin Western Elevating Grader and the Stockland 10 foot blade. It was made in Minneapolis and had a Best 60, a 10 ton Holt A.C. Model L.gas 6 cylinder Cat and an Ateco Scraper. Work picked up by 1934 and in 19351 took my first State Highway job on Highway 59 between Halma & Lake Bronson, Minnesota. I got $18,000 for the six miles of new highway which included culverts, clearing and graveling. I bought two Cat Wagons, a Diesel 75 and a Cat 48' power-controlled elevating grader and a used D & H Dragline for the job. Had good luck and made a little money. 1 kept buying more machinery and got bigger jobs. By 1942 I had two D8 Cats and Scrapers working on Wold Chamberlin Field, St. Paul. Also, had a Dragline, trucks and other equipment putting in eleven miles of train sorting track grade in Laurel, Montana, for the N. P. Railroad. Had Highway 32 Oscan Schenky between Red Lake Falls and Thief River Falls to finish in 1942.
In May of 1942, the U. S. Government wanted me to take a job on the Alaska highway to work with the Army. In order to handle the job, I took in a partner, G. A. Olson from Marshall, Minnesota. He had 38% and I 62% in our joint venture. He brought men from Marshall and other places. I recruited most of all my old crews that wanted to go and hired many more. At the peak we had about 300 men in our camp. We shipped over 20 carloads of machinery and supplied to Dawson Creek, B. C., Canada. We had to walk our machinery over a hundred miles to the beginning of our job. We had to ferry it across the Peace River. The crew lived in tents, the same as the Army men. The work moved into the wilderness further every week as the road was built. We helped build about 118 miles of the road the first year and helped put in many culverts and bridges. The Army had a new sawmill and asked us to get it started. We began in October, 1942, and sawed lumber to build our winter camp. The Government and everyone needed lumber. They kept us busy sawing day and night until June of 1943. We sawed approximately ? million board feet. We used a D-8 Cat with power take off to run the sawmill. We had a light plant. It was a 30 KW Cat Diesel. It was not stopped from October, 1942, until about a year later. Many of the men in camp had radios and would holler if the plant was shut down even for a minute. The kitchen had several electrical appliances too. So, we decided to let it run all the time. We filled in fuel and changed oil while running. It got down to 60 below zero some days. We changed crews every four hours cutting and skidding logs in the daytime, as we had to get enough logs ahead to keep the mill going at night.
Our camp consisted of fifteen buildings made out of the rough lumber we sawed and they were covered with tar paper. We used fifty-five gallon empty fuel barrels made into wood stoves for heating. We burned slabs and other wood -- some days it took up to seven cords of wood to keep the camp warm. We had two full time Firemen on in the daytime and two at night. They also had to get water from the river. The ice in the river got as thick as four feet. The camp buildings were twenty-four feet wide and one hundred twenty feet long. We had two of the highest flag poles on the Alaskan Highway. We flew the American flag on one and the Canadian Flag on the other. The three hundred men living at our camp were all busy logging, sawing, repairing and maintaining the winter road. They also helped build housing for the piers for the Muska and Nelson River Bridges. The cement piers were fifty feet down in the coffer dams and fifty feet above the river ice when finished. The Government shipped three old railroad bridges, pieces marked to be put on these .
Ole Bemtson & Lorain taking truck out of ditch on Alaska Highway in 1942. Herbert Reese's machine, Lorain 40, bought new in May 1937. It had a Waukesha gas engine. Ran this machine double shift for three years. Rebuilt it twice. Believe it was operated about 20,000 hours before we scrapped it in 1948.
The Peterson Bros. from Montivedo, Minnesota, had the bridges assembling job and the pouring of the cement piers. These old railroad bridges were taken down when the railroad had to be relocated for the Shasta Dam and Lake. Some men, who took the bridges down, came along to help Petersons assemble them. They were rough, hard, whiskey drinking steel workers. We sure had trouble at our camp to keep them in line. We boarded their crew of about 100 men at our camp. We had to put out four meals daily for about five hundred people, on an average. Many were truckers and others were contractor's men. We were the only camp with women cooks. It seemed everyone wanted to eat at our camp. I never saw so many big eaters.
On January 19, 1943, we nearly lost our camp. Everyone was eating supper and it was 55° below. Fire broke out in our supply store building at the front of the camp. No one noticed it until the fire was throwing tar paper pieces onto the other buildings. The men tried to put it out. In doing so, several froze their ears and hands. The fire was starting on the roofs of other buildings, as the wind was right over them from the end. If it had not been for Harold Grill, a Cat Operator, who had a D8 dozer in the shop, I am sure all would have been lost. He ran the dozer up to the burning building with the blade up a foot or so and let it go through by itself. It took most of the burning building with it. Then they caught the Cat after it got out in the open, turned it around and sent it back. Several of the men had to get up on the roofs of the other buildings to put out fires that were burning on the tar paper roofing. All but the supply building were saved. We finished on the Alaskan Highway on November 19, 1943, and shipped the machinery back to Greenbush; Olson shipped his equipment to Marshall, Minnesota.
I did a lot of township work in 1944 and 1945. There was a scracity of machinery, so I bought up used equipment from the Dust Bowl of the Dakotas. I sold the John Deere agency and building in 1947. I did road work on the They were to deliver the machine in ten days and it took them forty five days. I sued the Railroad Company as I had to pay out $6,000 rent for another machine. We had to walk the machine twenty miles to the job. The bridge was not safe so we had to walk the machine through six feet of water in the Roseau River. We chained matts to the tracks to pull them under the water to get them under the tracks. Some of my sons were in the water helping to move the matts around. When the machine got on the other bank, the operator walked off the matts and got about a hundred feet from the river bank. The machine dropped into the swamp with the boom sticking straight up and the rear counter weights about eight feet in the mud. There was only about two feet of the twenty foot long tracks sticking up. I was on my way around and over the bridge to tell him to stay on the matts, but did not get there in time. I did not sleep a wink that night -- I was just sick! We had been waiting six weeks for the machine and now it seemed hopelessly stuck.
The next morning I had timbers and a Cat hauled out. We put down a timber dead man and put a fifty foot cable to boom point hoist cable. Then we put another cable from Cat wench to boom point and chained a matt to front of the tracks sticking out of the ground. We then started the big 200 hp. Murphey Diesel, but it just killed every time we tried to start it. The machine was really sucked down in the muck. Then I had cables pulled as tight as possible and held the governor on the engine. I moved a few inches and started to pull the matts under. Finally, after several more reefs we had it on the matts. 1 was afraid of breaking something, pulling it so hard. It sure was a nice feeling to see the machine moving again. It was a two year job, but we finished the excavations from June 13 to January 3. We ran two shifts day and night, right through. When the ground started freezing we ran three eight hour shifts. Finally we were breaking a foot of frost the last couple of days. It got down to 30° below when we were moving the machines back across the river and the ice was thick enough to carry the machines. The lakes now have fine fishing and lots of ducks and geese. It is a game refuge now where several hundred ducks and geese winter there and raise their young. In 1954 and 1955 I bid in over a million dollars of State Highway work in Minnesota. I had five jobs and was employing over two hundred men. I had #59 from Lancaster to the border, High-way #2 from Grand Forks to Crookston and Highway #53 at International Falls, south. Another job was Highway #1 at Red Lake and also a job from Roosevelt to the Lake of the Woods. From 1954 to 1956 we got heavy rain. on all these jobs, which washed out many culverts and heavy fills. On the hit solid granite. The cut was over fifteen feet deep in that hill which was about two hundred feet wide and fifteen hundred feet long. In drilling and blasting the rock, several homes nearby were damaged, costing me several thousands of dollars. The rock cost me five dollars a yard to move. Over the three years 1 paid out approximately two hundred and fifty thousand more than I took in. 1 had to mortgage my machinery and borrow money in order to get the jobs completed. With the rising costs in labor and materials, I was unable to meet all my bills and had to turn everything over to a receiver.
Emerson Flour City Big 4 - one like Herb bought in 1922 at auction. Used it couple years breaking with 2 24' John Deere Jumbo breakers. This picture was in 1968 with my niece, and nephew.
Reese & Olson & Peterson Bros. job in spring of 1943 on Muchwa Bridge on Alcan Highway before we have deck planks and railing all put on. The steel was three old railroad bridges taken down when railroad was relocated. Pieces were piece marked and reassembled -- nearly lost this bridge in flood in spring of 1943 as the water rose to 34 feet in ten hours. Piled trees and debris against bridge steel.
North Dakota Highways, with machinery and labor prices going up each year and bidding more competitive. I had a payroll from 200 to 250 thousand per year. In 1946 I got the First Place Safety Award from A. G. C. for employing most men and having the most hours in the nation without any loss of time due to accidents.
I always wanted an airplane, but thought they were too high priced. So, I decided to build one in 1929. I used a 1928 Whippet motor for power, but it was too high speed and too heavy -- also not enough power. After breaking a couple of Hamilton Special made wood propellers and breaking the landing gear I had made out of old motorcycle wheels, I gave up and sold it to Arnold Habstritt at Roseau for $25. I kept the Whippet motor and helped him put on a Model A motor. He finally got it to fly, but landed in some woods after a few short flights and wrecked it. I bought a new Taylor Craft, then an Arconic Chief and a Luscome. Later, I got a Stinson 165 Station Wagon 4-place with radio and all. That was a nice plane. After a few years I sold it and bought an all metal Cesna with radio and extras. I did a lot of flying to the scattered jobs in Minnesota and North Dakota. I sold my plane in 1956 to help pay my bills. I would liked to have kept it, as I liked flying. Even though I was a fair weather pilot, will relate some of my experiences during my years of flying.
In flying out to Cannon Ferry Dam to look at a job in Montana, 1 did not realize the high mountains near Home-stad. 1 was up over twelve thousand feet in snow squalls at times and could not see the wing tips. Now and then a mountain peak would come into view. I was hoping and praying to make it through the storm. Then all of a sudden there was sunshine and a green valley ahead -- sure was relieved.
Another time I took off from a road job in Red Lake Game Refuge that was all timber. I got up two thousand feet and all of a sudden, the engine broke a valve and busted a piston and cylinder. The engine vibrated so bad 1 was afraid the wings would fall off. I shut it off, but it would not quit wind-milling -- had to almost pull it up into a stall to stop the engine. Then, I let it fall into a glide, looking for an opening in the timber. I happened to see a roof top in the distance. When I got near, I saw a cattle lane through the trees. I was down lower than the top of the barn -- limbs touched both wing tips, but got landed and stopped. I was just a few feet from a big ditch full of water. As I went past the barn, a couple of small boys were standing there. They ran and told their Dad and before I could get out of the plane, they were out there. The boys were all excited and wanted to know how I could fly with the propeller standing still.
Another time, I flew into a heavy rain and thunder storm and got caught in an up-draft, went up several thousand feet. Then all of a sudden, I had no control of the plane. I started falling or being pushed down by a down-draft. When I got down to a couple hundred feet, the air was bouncing back upwards. I thought I would fall through the seat. There was a 45 or 50 mile wind on the ground. I was pushed around and landed into the wind and rain behind a grove of trees. I had to dodge rock piles in the plowed field to get up to the trees. I had a hard time to get the plane tied down. Soon as I cut the power, the wind wanted to take the plane. 1 used my belt to tie the controls ahead and left the engine on part throttle, then 1 finally got it tied down. 1 walked around the grove to the house to ask to use their phone. The central office in Viking did not open until eight a.m. and this was about seven. I asked the people their name and the woman told me Ranum. I then asked her if she knew Oscar and Maynard Ranum. She said they were her sons. I told her they were working for me. She exclaimed, 'You are not Herbert Reese, are you?' I told her I was and that the boys worked for me for two seasons on Cats and Scrapers on North Dakota jobs. She got her husband up to drive me home. It was still raining and blowing. I finally got a call through to my wife and she came down to get me.
In 1952 the Game and Fish had Ducks Unlimited Big Bog job up for bids for the second time. The job was to inclose 38,000 acres to make three artificial lakes. It required three spillways and 130,000 yards of Dragline excavating. I went into a 50-50 joint venture with Barnard Curtiss. We each put on two large Draglines. I flew to Pennsylvania to buy a large three yard machine. I was having it shipped back by rail and the Railroad Car broke down in Ohio. They had to reload the machine, then lost it for two weeks in the Chicago yards.