Parade Wagons

Little Red Hens 1936

Little Red Hens 1936


“Little Old Red Hens,” in parade in Weiser. My aunt Fannie Chandler in center.  This ladies organization was a community service organization providing mostly music for different events. Organizations such as this would go all over Treasure Valley and Payette Valley playing for whatever the occasion demanded. Before the 40s most of us did not have electricity, so no radios–certainly no TV (until later 50s) so we had to provide our own entertainment.  every small group had its fiddle players, singers, and various means of providing music entertainment.

I well remember the parades.  We had them in New Plymouth until after WWII, then it was simply too easy to go to Payette.  I have seen many there so many  times, saw New Plymouth girls in them many times.  Anyone who had a horse was invited to be in the parade.  Lois Johnson, one of my classmates (daughter of old Charlie Johnson of Birding Island and the Bluffs) was queen one time. In WWII they always kicked off bond drives with Souza’s tunes — guaranteed to do the job.

This is a typical Payette Valley hay wagon of the 30s – 40s–after they had replaced the old wooden wheels with used car rubber tired wheels.  One of our most principle farm equipment.  It was used for haying, corn harvest, onions, beets, just simply general purpose — like we would used tractors, cars, trucks (combined) today.  These wagons were used by most of us to go to town — not all of us could afford buggies yet.

City folks may not understand that buggies and wagons are usually pulled by different types of horses. Buggies use lighter, swifter horses, while wagons take more plodding, heavier draft horses.  Not many of us could afford both types.  “Hay burners” burn hay whether or not they are used.  Hay was expensive.  Because these wagons plus the teams that pulled them would take up too much space on main street, we would tie up behind Creasey building or in the coal yard.

We made the wagons ourselves from parts scavenged in auto junk yards.  Most hay wagons had steel and wooden wheels until after 1935, because rubber tires were not generally available yet.  The wheels on the wagon and the autos behind in the photo (look to be 1930-1932 models) would date this photo ~1934-35.  The fact that it has rubber tired wheels meant it was very advanced for its time–and the owner was “bragging” by putting it in the parade!

We would scavenge the parts from the junk yard, then take them to Ray Tuttle in his Blacksmith shop in New Plymouth, on Maple. If you note the wagon chassis is from a car or truck, the axles, wheels and tires are also straight off an old car.  I imagine old car buffs could tell the make and model from the wheels.  Various unseen parts of this wagon would also be from same source — not a single part of it would be manufactured for that purpose

This wagon is a case of evolution for farmers.  Older wagons made all of wood, with wooden wheels, ala the types used on Oregon trail–were sufficiently sophisticated wooden manufacture that most farmers did not have the skill to make them. so they must be purchased from a wheel wright or other manufacture like Studebaker, and shipped west from St Louis.

In their day, these folks in a parade would be just as classy as riding in a Cadillac convertible would become 20-30 years later.  They are all dressed up for the parade — their idea of what later “floats” would be like.

I remember well when my dad finally got rubber tires for our hay wagon.  Driving the old wooden wheeled wagon to town so jarred us that our kidneys must surely have suffered.  The rubber tires ended that heavy jarring — not that it was smooth, but you could go much faster.

Note that men’s suits have not really changed all that much thru many years.  It has always been an amazement to me that men willingly let themselves be stuffed into uncomfortable suits, and strangled by a tie–all because women seem to have the idea that should be!

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