That's Pretty Near Beautiful, Isn't It?


| May/June 1995



Weldon Glick

Weldon Glick.

P.O. Box 15368 Pensacola, Florida 32514

Bill Orr looked like the legendary Wizard of Oz at his organ, both hands at the controls regulating the operation of the big old black diesel engine. He throttled back and let the engine slow down almost to stopping with nearly no sound, then advanced the throttle. As the engine labored to catch up with its resonant 'Chunk ... chunk' cracking above the crowd, it blew perfect white and black smoke rings 30 feet in the air from the twin exhaust stacks and sounded like music to the ears of the enthusiasts clustered around.

Amidst a cacophony of many engines chugging, coughing, cracking, and 'chunk . . . chunking,' the peanut exhibit was drawing spectators. There were two balers, one a green John Deere 1936 3 HP, the other a red 1946 International Harvester 3-5 HP. A 1936 peanut picker driven with an eight inch belt from a 1936 Farmall tractor (approx. 36 HP), pulled peanuts off the vines, its fan blowing leaves and vines out the back of the picker. There the cast out vines etc. were picked up with pitch forks and fed to a hay baler and baled for future use.

Phillip Hunter, the narrator for the demonstration, recalled the old days when the peanut vines were stacked in the fields for four to six weeks to dry them. When they were ready, the farmer would set up a picker in the field. In 1936 they could pick about 500 pounds a day. Today's equipment only requires peanut vines to dry about a week before feeding them to the picker.

Turning in a tree-lined clay road to Landmark Park you come upon beautiful green, close-cropped, lawn-like grounds with buildings from the wire grass farming heritage. The Waddell House, a turn of the century farm house, sitting on brick piers; log cabins; log corn cribs; a blacksmith shop; a church; with a country store in the works; and farm animals provided an exceptional setting for the engine show. There was a line of tractors, flywheel engines hit-n-miss, steam, diesel, gas, lawn mower, washing machine, ? HP to 120 HP, small enough to hold in one hand to 16,000 pounds with 12 inch cylinders. Many engines were hooked to period farm implements or machines cross cut saws, water pumps, cane mills, peanut pickers, hay presses, corn shuckers.

This was the 1994 Pioneer Peanut Days celebration with the Dixie Fly-wheelers Association being held at Landmark Park just north of Dothan, Alabama, on October 22 and 23. Teresa Smallwood, representing the Alabama Peanut Producers Association which is one of the yearly sponsors of the event, said this celebration is a way of preserving and honoring the past at a time when peanut farmers are having trouble keeping the farms together.