Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long lines

Big E wasn't a very big town, but we had two elevators, the CoOp, and the Bunge CoOp.  Mom  worked at the Bunge Elevator. Our house, which we bought right after my 8th grade year, was 2 blocks south of the CoOp.

During those days, most wheat was delivered to the elevators in farm trucks, not the big semi's that most farmers use today.  Farms were still family farms and they were pretty small.  Most of the Wheat trucks had been bought in the 50's and 60's and held 300-400 bushels.   Wheat trucks were usually driven to town by the wives, daughters, and younger sons of the locals.  Small trucks meant frequent trips to town which  meant long lines at the elevator, sometimes stretching from the CoOp past our house and out to the edge of town. There could be 20 - 30 trucks in line at any given time.  Many of the drivers knew to take a book along to pass the time.  Drivers either read, or visited with one another by yelling from truck to truck, or if the elevator was slow dumping trucks, they'd get out and congregate in small groups which would break up and re-form as the drivers had to move their trucks one to tow places forward in line.

I have to admit, sometimes the line of trucks in front of our house were annoying.  They'd be there from 10 in the morning until midnight or later.  The exhaust could be smelled in the house.  You could always hear the rumble of truck engines and the grinding of gears.  I would usually check a couple of times a day to see how long the line was, or how fast it was moving and sometimes, I'd check out the custom cutters.

There were a couple of times when I made treats for some of the drivers I knew.  I was in 4-H and I was always trying out new recipes.  I know that at least once I made cake donuts and gave some to some of the drivers sitting outside.  A couple of times, I had girls ask to use the bathroom and a few times, I was asked to "Call Mom and have her tell Dad that the line is really long, so I won't be back for a while."

Before I started working at the elevator, I envied the girls driving the wheat trucks.  They had a "job", and got to drive a truck to town, read, and talk to cute custom cutters.  I never dwelt on the fact that those trucks weren't air-conditioned, that they were slow, rough-riding, or that the girls were hot, sweaty and bored while waiting in line to dump their loads.  I also didn't realize how much pressure they were under to hurry to town, get dumped and get right back to the field to be reloaded and start the process all over again.

And yet, knowing that it wasn't that glamorous, I still miss those days of the long lines at the elevator.

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