Purdue University Press Releases Historical Work

The Harvest Story: Recollections of Old-Time Threshermen

| October/November 2001

The Harvest Story tells the tale of wheat threshing in turn-of-the-century North America. This book gathers over 50 volumes of material published in the Iron Men Album magazine from 1946 until the present. From this rich mine, the author has distilled a story of hard but honest work, of heartfelt cooperation, of triumph not unmarred by tragedy - a complex, fascinating story about America's past.

Readers feel the excitement as threshing day dawns, participate in the labor and practical jokes of the crew, and respect the power of the reliable, but sometimes dangerous, steam engines. With the author's skillful arrangement of the material, explanations, and photographs from his private collection, we come to share the 'Iron Men's' solid values.

Robert T. Rhode was born on a farm near Pine Village in northwestern Indiana. Every summer from the time he was I, he went with his parents to the Central States Threshermen's Reunion at Pontiac, III. There, he came to appreciate the North American agricultural heritage. His great uncle ran steam traction engines, his father grew up during the steam era and helped his uncle run engines, and his mother remembered playing on steam engines parked in the factory yard of the Keck-Gonnerman Co., manufacturers of threshing equipment in her hometown of Mt. Vernon, Ind.

Rhode is a professor of English at Northern Kentucky University. He has published 50 articles on agricultural literature and history. He owns a 65 HP J. I. Case agricultural traction engine (serial number 35654) built in 1923, which he regularly exhibits at threshing reunions.

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