Melton Memories: Uncle Harold, a Liberal Education


Pictured above- Harold Melton at parts counter with customer

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Growing up in the store, we learned how to fix things and situations while watching them being fixed. My uncle, Harold Melton, handled the farm equipment end of our business. Another cousin, Alfred W. (Whack) Rader, handled farm equipment repairs.

But some problems could not be easily diagnosed and therefore required a service call from my Uncle Harold. Cousin Mike and brother Larry remember one such call, riding in the back of our old International “binder” pickup all the way out to ole Leroy’s farm in the Verdigris bottom east of Collinsville.

This was a scorching hot day anyway, and not a touch of breeze made it down in the bottom. We kids were huddled under the shade of a lone tree out in the field, but those working on the 46W wire baler had no such luxury.

Hay balers of that time were primitive beside today’s equipment, but still were complex machines. A rake had already put the cut grass in a row. The baler came along with its rotary tines and scooped the grass up into a hopper. Hay in the hopper was pushed into the bale chamber by a pair of huge picks, writhing four feet in the air then stabbing the grass and pushing it into the bale chamber. There, heavy wood blocks mashed the grass together over and over until it was the shape of a bale. The roller stretched the wire around the bale, then this wire fed through a gearbox (called a knotter) that was tasked with the job of tying the wire into a knot tightened around the bale. All this while everything bounced up and down banging furiously. What could go wrong?

Old Leroy’s baler was doing the scooping, picking, mashing and wrapping just fine, but every time they thought it fixed, a bale would shoot out the back undone and spread out. On a broiling hot day, frustrations rose to a fever point.

My uncle was reading the International Harvester troubleshooting manual for the 46 tie, looking for a match to the problem. Finally, he found it! He found the exact problem in that troubleshooting guide that would fix this problem.

The guide said, “If this problem occurs, see your friendly IH repair man.”

He was the friendly IH repairman!

That’s when we got the liberal arts education, new words we hadn’t heard before.

Right there in ole Leroy’s field in the Verdigris bottom.

-by Robby Melton


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