Mack Williams: The threshers
“Come ye thankful people come, raise the song of harvest home.”
I always think of that particular hymn as Thanksgiving approaches. I don’t hear it on the radio, as pop and Christmas reign there at this time of year. The tune comes from an annual storing away in my mind at church, the first twenty-some “storings” having taken place at Saint Paul’s Lutheran.
Everyone nowadays, is of course, familiar with migratory workers who travel around the country, being paid for harvesting fruit, tobacco, etc.
If you think “Now he’s going to write about immigration and Executive orders,” you think wrong.
I’m going to write about something which was a common sight in the early twentieth century, the sight of which I observed in the middle decade of that same century on its dwindling to extinction : “threshers.”
Threshers were kind of like migratory workers who brought the machines with them.
In Denton, the “Old Time Thresher’s Reunion” is held annually, but it seems to me that it”s more of a reunion of the machines the threshers used, rather than of the men themselves. There is some spillover in definition, as “thresher” can also refer to the machine, i.e., “steam-driven” thresher.” It’s a good thing for history preservation that some men like to tinker with the old machines (just like those men who “tinker” at Spencer).
Although more of a “blue-collar” job, threshing was a noble, almost Biblical line of work, due to the passages and parables in the Bible comparing our lives to fields of wheat.
“First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear.”
That day in the 1950s, I got to see the threshers do their work at my Grandfather and Grandmother Williams’ house on the Sparta Road in North Wilkesboro. To the best of my memory, they had enough wheat and corn to require the thresher’s assistance.
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