The Cook Car on the Parade Route at Threshermen's
HISTORY OF THE COOK CAR
By Verl Cutler
|Years ago I became interested in the role
that the cook car played in the history of
threshing. My wife Mary and I decided to
buy a cook car and refurbish it as a project.
We located one that was in fairly good repair
and hauled it home. We cleaned it up and
made some minor repairs and after building
a long plank table with bench seats on both
sides, we were ready to host a cook car party.
We tried to make it as authentic
while still making it comfortable
guests. We covered the table
with an oilcloth
checkered tablecloth and placed
filled with unthreshed wheat
the table. We were now ready
for our first
party. We rang the dinner bell
and held the
first of many parties in our
After we were done hosting cook
we felt that others should be
able to enjoy
that as well. Our first thought
it needed a permanent home in
are very happy to see it put
to good use
during the Annual Show.
The history of the cook car dates back to
the 1800's. They were restaurants on wheels
where meals were prepared for threshing crews.
The men sat at a long table with benches
at each side. The car measured approximately
8 foot wide by 30 feet long and was usually
pulled up into the farmer's yard next to
an artesian well or surface well pump for
easy access to a water source.
They would feed a crew of 20
to 25 men for
each meal. The cooks, usually
up before dawn getting ready
to feed the
workers at 5 a.m. Although the
job was hard,
forty cents an hour was considered
Their first job was to see that
clean towels, soap, and water
the men to wash before each meal.
for the cooks, if they were lucky,
p.m., and often it was midnight.
the time, the cooks slept on
a cot behind
a curtain at the end of the cook
|Interior is now furnished with an original
style stove and vintage equipment:
At mealtime, the men trooped
in from the
field, dusty and dirty, with
off their faces and soaking through
faded blue shirts. There were
soap, and worn-out towels ready
hot water available to cut the
chill of the
well water. The threshers used
to get fresh well water out of
was incredibly dirty work so
sloshing it on their faces, over
and behind their ears.
Tables were set and the men were
meals a day plus lunches. Baking
on a coal and wood stove. They
their bread, cookies, and pies.
was toast or pancakes, eggs and
hot cereal. Someone would do
dishes while the head cook did
or started the forenoon lunch.
lunch was sent to the field with
haulers. After the noon dishes
the cooks washed the dishtowels
on a washboard
and then mopped the floor. Since
no refrigeration, the owner of
the rig went
to town almost every day for
|Picture of a 1910 Andover threshing crew
and cook car hangs inside on the wall:
Lunches were hearty meals that
of meat and potatoes, platters
of fried chicken,
freshly baked bread with home-churned
ham, and pork. Dessert was apple,
pumpkin, peach, cherry and mince
hot from the oven. The evening
probably have soup, hash brown
American fried potatoes, stew
or other meat,
vegetables and pudding or sauce
fresh or dried fruit, coffee
and cake or
As soon as the supper dishes
it was time to set the table
and turn the
plates upside down over the silverware.
bread dough was made for the
next day's baking.
After a few hours sleep, they
woke up and
did it all over again.
Exerpt from story by Verl Cutler.
|Before the Feed Bin served food at the Shows,
meals were prepared and served in the Cook
|The cooks' sleeping room at the end of the
|The food service ladies of 1981
Continue to the Threshers Community Church
See you at the Show!