Budd Gauger, who was born in 1930, grew up on a farm fifteen miles from Wauneta, in southwestern Nebraska. He went on to have a career as a newspaperman in Lincoln and Toledo. Here, in his lyrical style, he recalls details from his trips to the old Wauneta elevator. Mayer-Osborn’s plans for a new concrete elevator were approved, in 1949, by Farmers Coop Exchange (FCE), which merged with Frenchman Valley Cooperative in 1990.
By Budd Gauger
Fourth of July means fireworks, but wheat farmers examine their fields hoping no fireworks such as lightning destroy their crops. They have decided to start the harvest.
I was assigned by my father to drive the big truck, usually a Chevrolet, hauling wheat to elevators in town. I realized that I had down time or wasted time when sitting in the fields waiting to load or at the elevator waiting to unload, so I enrolled in correspondence courses (this was in the ’50s) from Midland and Dana Colleges. A cousin, Thelma Gauger, taught me some words of shorthand, which came in handy for a journalist conducting an interview of newsmakers, so I sometimes practiced in the truck.
Wheat harvests come quickly and leave quickly on a march from Texas to Manitoba.
If the wheat was dry we could easily go most of the night in the fields. Sometimes I would stretch out atop my “gold” (wheat) in the back of the truck, and look at the soft-friendly of the moon, looking at me and billions of stars.
I marveled at the height of the elevators, not quite skyscraper high, but big nevertheless. They took a sample of wheat to make sure it wasn’t rotten. The price depended on the condition of the kernels.
- Wauneta registers as an important architectural landmark and literary archive (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
- In Chase County, we meet Gary State, an elevator construction veteran (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)