Oliver eyed Lisa's hotscakes, as she called them nervously.
"Oliver?" Lisa said in concern. "You haven't touched your hotscakes".
"It's because I don't have a ten foot pole", Oliver muttered under his breath.
"Oliver!" Lisa cried out indignantly. "That was a terrible thing to say".
"I'm sorry, dear", Oliver said as he stood up to go outside. He leaned over and kissed her cheek just as Eb walked in the back door. "Hi mom. Hi dad", he said as he sat down at the table and began pulling hotcakes onto his plate.
"We're not your parents", Oliver shouted irritably.
"Oliver", Lisa scolded. "You are shouting".
"I'm not shouting", Oliver shouted. Then his face reddened and he smiled a little sheepishly. "Sorry, dear". Then he frowned at Eb. "What are you doing?"
"Eating the breakfast that mom made", Eb replied.
"She's not your mother", Oliver shouted.
"Oliver!" Lisa scolded again.
Oliver frowned frustratedly at Eb. "If you wanted to eat, you should have gotten up earlier".
"I would have", Eb replied, "but the my alarm clock's broke".
"Your alarm clock's broke?" Oliver said. "What's wrong with it?"
"It has laryngitis", Eb replied as he bit into a hotcake and tried to bite a piece off.
"Your alarm clock has laryngitis?" Oliver said in disbelief.
"Yeah", Eb said as he gave up trying to bite through the hotcake.
"How can an alarm clock have laryngitis?'' Oliver asked despite himself.
"When it's a rooster", Eb said as he stood up and abandoned his breakfast.
"Eb? Aren't you going to eat your hotscakes?" Lisa asked.
"No, mam", Eb said earnestly. "Mr. Douglas doesn't have a ten foot pole I can borrow".
Oliver and Eb ran out the door right before a torrent of unpleasant sounding Hungarian followed them out.
"I think you better head out to the fields before she comes out and starts throwing hotcakes at you and I'm going into town for some chicken feed".
"Yes, sir", Eb said quickly as he scurried as far from the house as he could get.
Oliver pulled up in his car infront of Druckers store and got out. Joe Carson, of the Shady Rest hotel, was seated out front on the porch of the store, whittling on a stick of wood.
"Mr. Carson?" Oliver said, nodding politely as he passed him.
"Mr. Douglas", Joe said. "Have you come for the annual Drucker checkers championship?"
"Uh, no", Oliver muttered as he went inside. "Chicken feed".
"The annual chicken feed contest isn't till next month", Joe shouted after him.
Oliver went inside and found Sam Drucker overseeing Hank Kimble and Mr. Haney's checker game. Fred Ziffel stood nearby, waiting his turn.
"Can I get some chicken feed?" Oliver asked. "Oh, and some tonic for Laryngitis".
"Eb's alarm clock broken again?" Sam asked as he went to fill the order.
"Uh, yeah", Oliver muttered disgustedly. Then he glanced over at Hank Kimble. "Mr. Kimble. When would I be able to get a threshing machine out to my farm?"
"Well, probably next Tuesday", Kimble replied as he moved a checker. Then he shook his head. "That's not right".
"You already took your hand off the checker", Haney protested.
"Not the checker, the threshing machine", Kimble explained. "They can't come till next wednesday. Tuesday they'll be over at the Eppert farm. No, wait. The Epperts are growing cabbages. It's the Rogers farm. No, wait. The Rogers are growing potatoes, or is it corn. No, it's potatoes. Well, I guess they can come next Tuesday".
"Thank you", Oliver growled.
"Threshing time", a voice said softly, interupting the bantor.
The men all turned to look at Sam Drucker who was leaning against the store counter, a faraway look in his eyes. "I remember threshing time", he murmured. "I remember threshing time when I was a boy".
"Sammy Drucker! You get back here and wash your face and brush your hair before you go outside", Myrtle Drucker called out sharply.
"Awww. Momma. The threshing machines will be here anytime now", Sammy protested as he went back in and washed his face and ran a brush through his hair. Then he was out the door in a shot, running up the narrow path towards the road.
The summer heat wafted over him, making the air in front of him ripple.
Sammy loved summer. The trips to the pond, dipping his dusty, bare feet in the cool water. The tadpoles tickling his toes as they wiggled past. Sometimes, he would bring a sandwhich and an apple with him, wrapped in a linen handkerchief. He would also bring along his fishing pole and catch fish for that night's supper. He would also stand out in the yard, tossing a ball back and forth with his brother Clyde. When he wasn't doing that, he was chasing his dog Rufus in and out of the laundry that his mother had hung on the line in the yard, untill she yelled that he was kicking up too much dust and soiling her freshly cleaned clothes.
But threshing time, that was the very best of all. The large, clattering machines. The teams of horses. The men all gathering together to help each other.
A noise caught his attention then. He looked up the road and saw a cloud of dust and he jumped up and down in his excitement.
A long, double row of horses strained against their harnesses, pulling the threshing machine along the road.
William Drucker came up just then, waiving his arm and dirrecting the threshing machine into his fields.
Sammy ran into the field and stood nearby watching. His brother, Clyde, was twelve and expected to help now but Sammy was eight and was free to just watch.
The threshing machine belt was attached to a tractor and everything was started up.
A loud clanking and clattering filled the air as a horse drawn hay wagong pulled up along side of the threshing machine and came to a stop.
Men climbed into the back of the hay wagon and began pitching the hay onto the loading belt, which then took it up and into the threshing machine.
The clanking was loud, drowning out anything that anyone might have said and the men were forced to shout to one another.
Sammy raced to the other end and watched as the grain came out into the back of another wagon and was then shovled into burlap bags which were sewn up and tossed down to men, who loaded them into another wagon.
To Sammy's amazement and delight, hundreds of field mice began running all across the field. He chased them around for a bit, catching them and then releasing them after he had the chance to look them over.
But soon, he was back to watching the threshing machine. He watched enthralled, wanting to help. He watched as his brother Clyde shovled grain into the bags and his father used a pitchfork to load more hay onto the loading belt.
The noise, the sounds, even the smells. It was all so wonderful.
The noise of the engine running and the clanking and clattering of the machine itself. Even the jangling and creaking of the horses harnesses and the stomping of their hooves as they shuffled restlessly in place, it all made up the most wonderful experience that Sammy could remember. They worked all day untill the bell calling them for lunch sounded and the men stopped what they were doing and headed to the house to wash up and eat.
And what a feast it was. Thick slabs of ham and biscuits and gravy. Mashed potatoes with more gravy. There were pies of all kinds and tall pitchers of cold milk and water.
The men ate their fill and rested for a bit, smoking and talking about their day.
But finally, rest time came to an end and the men returned to work.
Sammy raced ahead, afraid that his mother would make him stay behind and help her with the clean up from the large meal. But that's what she had Sammy's sister Ruthie for.
The men reached the field again and began their work, only now there was an urgency.
"Think the rains will hold off a bit more?" William Drucker asked as he looked up at the sky worriedly.
William's farm hand, Hans Sodergren nodded grimly. "We better hurry though", he said in a thick swedish accent.
And so they hurried. They had just put the last bag of grain in the back of the wagon when the skys opened up and began to rain down upon them. They unhitched the horses from the threshing machine and quickly headed to the barn with them. The grain wagon going on ahead to take it's cargo in out of the downpour.
When they were done putting up the horses and the bags of grain, they all gathered in the large warm kitchen to wait out the rains. When it seemed to slack off some, the neighboring farmers, who had come to help, said their goodbyes and returned to their homes with William promising to come help them the next day with their fields, saying he would bring along Clyde to help as well.
The farm hands ate a filling meal with the Drucker family and then returned to their bunkhouse for a good nights sleep.
As Myrtle and Ruthie cleared the dishes from the table, William and Clyde sat and made plans for the next day. Sammy only half heartedly listened to them. Another year gone by. It would be another year now till he once again had such a thrill. Another whole year of waiting. He patted his dog, Rufus on the head and rose to his feet and went across the room to look out at the darkness outside the window. He looked over his shoulder at his father then, seemingly aware of being watched. "You know, Pa. I think even when I'm an old man, I'll always remember threshing time".
Sam Drucker became aware of the roomful of men staring at him and frowned. "What are you all staring at? There's a checker match going on", he growled. Then he looked sharply at Oliver. "There's tonic in that bag there for Eb's alarm clock. Make sure he takes it".
"Uh, yeah", Oliver sighed as the reality of his life came back to him. "I better get back soon", he added as he looked at his watch and realized how long he had been gone. "Lisa will have lunch ready soon". He studiously ignored the cringing from the other men at the mention of his wife's cooking and went out the door, thoughts of threshing machines running through his mind.