Originally published in 1974, this memoir fondly and vividly recalls life on the McMillen family farm in western Ohio, describing in rich detail the daily and seasonal activities that marked the cyclical progression of farm life.
Uncomplicated when compared with the task of managing today's highly mechanized agricultural complexes, life on the early twentieth-century small farm entailed hard work and afforded simple pleasures that brought satisfaction and enjoyment to the farm and family. Farming on that scale and in the same manner has now become almost completely infeasible, yet in those times a good farmer could prosper and become independent. Wheeler McMillen’s father, Lewis, did both.
Relying frequently on his father’s account books and concise diaries, for this is primarily his father’s story, McMillen recounts the immense labor that farming demanded before the advent of the tractor and the combine harvester. He evokes the special excitements of having company for Sunday dinner, attending the annual oyster supper at the Grange Hall, and gathering on the Fourth of July with the interminable wait for darkness to fall. McMillen also portrays the quiet peace and ineffable joy of private moments, such as resting the horses during spring plowing to watch bronzed grackles search for food in the freshly turned furrows.
Wheeler McMillen’s slice of history will speak to those interested in what rural life was once like in the Midwest and to Ohioans who would like to learn more about their state’s recent past.