I remember: The Farm Auction of 1941

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By Doris Schroeder

The fact that hubby and I are going to do an auction at the Christian Women’s Luncheon on Wednesday, October 22, brought up some real memories of the past. Of course this auction is for a really good cause, as it is mainly for the Stonecroft Ministries as well as our own Christian Women’s group in Hutch. They do a wonderful job on both counts.

I have always enjoyed this form of selling called an “auction.” My first memory of one happened when I was 8 years old.

We had lived on the farm for one year, after moving from Hutch. My Dad’s cousin Ike and his wife had come to Kansas from McFarland, California and talked him into moving us to the golden state. In order to do that, we had a huge farm auction on our farm located on a hill on Sunrise Road, between Medora and Buhler.

Weeks before my Dad and I painted our old farm equipment. Red paint for the Chalmers machines and green for the John Deere. He had them all out on the big farm yard, along with all our garden tools.

Inside, he told me to get out all my toys I had received through the years…the wicker doll buggy and Shirley Temple doll, I had received four and a half years before, the Christmas after my sister Luella had been killed. Each piece had a special memory but I was young and it didn’t bother me too much.

The furniture was probably not too modern or fancy, but it had sufficed, was put out in the front yard.

The day of the auction dawned bright and clear. Some ladies from a church came and set up a counter in the front of the garage. They unloaded some baked goods and even some bottles of soda pop they would sell.

The auctioneer arrived, his hat set jauntily on his head. Dad showed him some of the stuff we had to sell. It sounded like his name was Curt.

Soon we could see the cars coming up the driveway to our farm on the hill. The Model A’s and T’s parked on the field in front of our house and the people came to look at all our “Stuff.”

Then the highlight began. The auctioneer called all the people to come to the farm machinery and he started his chant.  One by one, the farm machinery was sold to the highest bidder. When they got to the old knife sharpener that worked as a wheel that you pump with your feet, Curt couldn’t get someone to start the bidding. “I have a brother,” he related, “who would give a thousand dollars to see this!” I gasped to myself, thinking it really must be the deal of the day. Later, when I asked my Dad, he said that Curt’s brother, who lived by Medora,  was blind, so, of course, he would give a thousand dollars to see anything.

Sometimes the auctioneer told them “You can believe this!” I wondered if he meant that was the only thing I could believe. Nevertheless, it was fun to see him in action, and I was enjoying myself. That is, until I saw my favorite toys being sold. When my doll was handed to the buyer, I silently walked to the corner of the house.

That doll had a lot of memories. I could still remember my sister Luella asking Mom if there would be Shirley Temple dolls in heaven and I wondered if she had had one too.

But then I remembered my parents telling me I could buy something in California with the money we had sold my old toys for, and I felt comforted. “After all,” I reasoned “California is a land of opportunity!”

During the auction my mom did give me a nickel for a bottle of orange pop which I bought from the ladies in the garage. I thought I was living “in luxury” as I sat back with our two dogs Shep and Spot, dreaming of the state of “milk and honey” which would soon be ours. My young mind did not realize what all we would be leaving.

Finally the auction was over. Farmers got out their old cars and tractors they had brought and hitched old farm machinery to its bumpers. Some corralled the cows and heifers into trailers and jolted down the rutty driveway. My old toys soon disappeared from sight and everything looked bare. Curt, the auctioneer left and my Dad had a tired grin on his face.

The auction was over and we would soon move to California. “What would it be like and would God be there, too?” I wondered.

“I love auctions,” I thought to myself. “they are fun!”

Doris appreciates your comments and can be reached at [email protected]

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