Oat harvest came with hot weather

With June and July here or approaching, I think of the oat harvest we had before the combine was invented. The oats were shocked in bundles. Then the thrashing crew came and thrashed the oats, leaving a haystack which we all loved to climb up on and slide down. There were two thrashing crews in Rochelle’Bill Moseley and Melvin Burk had one, and Bill Mooring had the other. In the summer of 1946, I was 15-years-old, and I told my daddy I would like to work at the thrasher. He got me a job with Bill Mooring pitching up bundles in wagons drawn by horses or mules. They paid $4 a day and fed us lunch. It was a seven-day-a-week job, working from early morning to dark. The only time you stopped was when it rained or when you moved from one place to another. After about a week, I thought “this is horrible.” Under most shocks was either a snake or rats. One time a rat ran up my pant’s leg and I almost didn’t make it. With the fourth of July coming up, I hoped and prayed that it would rain and on the third the rain came. We got to go to the carnival on the fourth. We went back to work on the fifth with Tom Mooring as the cook. Some of the men on the teams and wagons that I remember were a Mr. Williams, but most of all a guy named Hawk Shaw Morris. He usually had a big bull snake wrapped around his neck or had some type of joke to pull on you. James Mooring, a crippled boy, had a buggy and sold cold drinks. I spent a lot of time looking for him because I was always thirsty in the heat with the only shade being a pitch fork. At noon we always had red beans, potatoes and some kind of meat. I would get full and crawl under a wagon to rest. In about five minutes, George Mooring would yell out, “Off your ass and on your feet; out of the shade and in the heat; $4 a day and all you can eat. Roll ’em.”

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