Colberts Farm

by kfrego

Charlie Colbert was chairman of the board of a metallurgical company in Pittsburgh. He had two huge farms connected by his own two mile gravel road. He had a mansion like you would find on a huge southern plantation. You could see the Niagara River from his living room. His forty foot yacht was tied at his personal dock with it’s own private road across the highway from his mansion. He employed a full time year round captain on the yacht, two full time farm managers, and six full time farm employees. All of the employees were furnished housing on the farms. Charlie had a herd of black angus cattle raised from his championship stock. He also had hundreds of acres in orchards. My friends father worked full time for Charlie. He  arranged for me to work part time with his son during haying and picking seasons. We went to Niagara Falls for Social Security cards and applied for work papers because we were under age. This job was a great adventure.

When we were baling hay the wagon was connected directly to the baler. The bales came up a chute and were dropped on the wagon deck. We stacked the bales in tiers five bales high to build a load. The green bales weighed from sixty five to seventy pounds. My weight was around eighty pounds. The use of steps made from my stacked bales allowed me to get five bales high on the first tier loaded. Once the front tier got up three bales high the bales were too heavy for me. Somebody would always double up with me to top off the load. We took turns hauling the hay to the barns with a Farmall M tractor. It made me feel ten foot tall driving the tractor. It took a while to learn how to back the hay wagons into position for unloading. We would drop the full load, hook up an empty wagon, and return to the baler which was normally half loaded when we got back.

They taught me how to pull a large sprayer through the orchards with insecticides and fertilizer. The big Allis-Chalmers tractor had a hand clutch mounted inside the right hand fender. It was easy to release the clutch. The only way for me to engage it was to put both feet up on the dash under the steering wheel and pull with all my might. Once engaged it would stay in position by itself. The only way for me to make a tight turn was to stand up, grip both hands on one side of the steering wheel, and use my arms and body weight to turn the wheel. It was great working on the farm. We worked hard to earn everyone’s respect and were rewarded with many learning experiences.

On payday we received real pay checks with all of the employees…………..the seventy five cents an hour was good pay for a couple school kids.