Even the best-planned deliveries can run into problems.
While working for the Rumely Thresher Company at their St. Louis Branch, a Mr. D. A. Upham wrote the Rumely Company at Laporte, Indiana, asking information about a tractor and plow. Since the inquiry came from Mt. Carmel, Illinois, which was in St. Louis territory, it was sent there and then to Tom Adams, salesman for that block.
Mr. Adams called on Mr. Upham and sold him a Model B, 25-45 Oil Pull and an eight gang Oliver plow.
Mr. Upham's land lay across the Wabash River in Indiana, hence was in the Indianapolis branch territory. The manager at Indianapolis soon heard of the sale and claimed the credit for it should go to his branch instead of to St. Louis. Quite an argument ensued and when the tractor arrived at Mt. Carmel, I was sent to unload and deliver it. When I arrived I found the Indianapolis branch manager had sent their man to deliver the same outfit.
Their serviceman and I had no quarrel. We thought it was fine to have help in delivering the machinery.
We were soon unloaded and the plows knocked down were loaded on a wagon and we were on our way to the Wabash Ferry landing. The tractor was quite a load for the boat, but we got across without any trouble.
We quickly reached the ranch headquarters, had the plows set up and were on our way to the field where we were to start plowing. As we were crossing a low spot of land which had recently been cleared of trees, I noticed the ground trembling for quite a distance around the tractor. I knew we were on quicksand, so I headed the tractor in between two large stumps and shut it down. We hauled a load of plank and planked our way out. It was much easier to get out that way than to bury the tractor.
We stayed at the ranch headquarters with the other ranch help and were all in bed by ten o'clock. About ten-thirty, the foreman called me and said I was wanted on the telephone. It was the hotel man at Mt. Carmel who said there was a telegram for me. He read it and it was instructions for me to be at Laddonia, Missouri, the next day for a plowing demonstration.
I knew I'd have to be on my way if I wanted to make it to Laddonia in time, so I asked him to send a livery rig to the ferry landing and I would wait there for him. I was soon across the river. I knew the man wouldn't be there for some time, so with a grip in each hand, I started walking toward the main road. Progress was slow as it was all over flow land. The sand was deep and just a trail through the woods.
As I came around a bend in the trail, I found myself in a gypsy camp. They had moved in after we had gone through with the tractor. Their wagons were crowded in the brush on each side of the trail. They had a fire burning in the middle of the trail and a bulldog was lying by the fire. The gypsies moved back and I walked through between them and the fire. No one said a word. I suppose I was in no danger but the farther I got away from them the better I felt.
I soon came to the main road and waited for what seemed hours and no livery man came. I was getting cold and didn't like the idea of staying there all night. There was a nice home across the road and a telephone line leading to the house. I decided to awaken them and ask to use their phone. A path lead to the front door with a small gate at the entrance. I slammed the gate as I went through to give them warning that someone was coming. It was lucky that I did as a large dog came around the house and after me and showed no signs of being friendly. I slammed the gate in his face and went across the road. He kept his position by the gate just to be sure I stayed on my side of the road. After another long wait, the livery man finally came, apologized for being so late. By doing some fast driving with a team of horses, we arrived in Mt. Carmel in time for me to get a night train to St. Louis. Then a morning train out to Laddonia. I arrived about noon only to find that they had had a hard rain the night before and the demonstration had been postponed.