A look back…

September 28, 2017

By Julie Traynor

This potato crate lifting hoist was a real laborsaving device for local potato growers when this photo was taken about 1960. Shown here is Highland potato farmer John Hesselink, maneuvering a large pallet of spuds onto a wagon.

Previously much smaller crates were used and carried to the potato crate hauling wagons by the potato pickers, who were paid by the crate, ranging through the years from 5c to 15c a bushel. Serious pickers could fill quite a few crates in a day. Needless to say this was hard physical work, often done by school kids.

John Hesselink operation a spud hoist in 1960.

John Hesselink operation a spud hoist in 1960.

There was a time in our area when schools were dismissed for a week or two in the fall so that all hands could help with various local harvests and in particular, the potato harvest. This practice reached its peak in the years before and during WWII. Many area kids enjoyed the chance to make a few dollars and enjoyed the company of their friends while doing so. School was no longer recessed for the harvest by 1965.

This harvest time photo was featured on the Facebook page Marion, Michigan last week and has garnered a lot of comments and shared memories from those who remember the fall ritual of the “potato diggin’ vacation”. For more insight into this harvest ritual you may read the comments on the Marion, Michigan Facebook page.

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