The Hired Man
Jack Miller was like family to Frank and Flossie Vincent and their children. When Frank passed in 1936, at the age of 44, Jack Miller stayed on to help Flossie and the family with the family threshing business. Jack was like a brother to Frank and Herb and an affectionate surrogate father for Darryl. Flossie looked on him with a great deal of fondness because he had been with the family for so many years and was a loyal and responsible helper during Flossie’s struggle to support her children after her husband’s death.
The Vincent children remained friends with Jack Miller and his wife their entire lives. On several occasions Marge, Frank, Herb and Darryl and their wives traveled to Montana to visited Jack Miller and his wife in Montana.
Bob Vincent, June 10, 2020
See, "The Plowing and Beet Hauling Business" excerpt below from
Flossie’s Biography, With A Ribbon In Her Hair, by Marjorie Coombs – Vincent
Jack Miller was the kind of man who could
"Sleep Through A Storm."
Sleeping Through A Storm
A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked for his qualifications, he said, "I can sleep through a storm." This puzzled the farmer... but he liked the young man. So he hired him.
A few weeks later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm ripping through the valley. He leapt out of bed and called for his new hired hand, but the young man was sleeping soundly.
So they quickly began to check things to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs had been set next to the fireplace.
The farmer and his wife then inspected their property. They found that the farm tools had been placed in the storage shed, safe from the elements. The bales of wheat had been bound and wrapped in tarpaulins.
The tractor had been moved into its garage. The barn was properly locked tight. Even the animals were calm and had plenty of feed. All was well.
The farmer then understood the meaning of the young man's words, "I can sleep through a storm."
Because the farmhand did his work loyally and faithfully when the skies were clear, he was prepared for any storm. So when the storm did actually break, he was not concerned or afraid. He could sleep in peace.
Moral of the story:
If we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith,
our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business.
Our words will always be sincere; our embraces will be tight.
We will never wallow in the agony of "I could have, or I should have."
We can sleep through a storm.
And when it's our time to go, our good-byes will be complete.
Threshing on C.J.Vincent Ranch
Letter from Jack Miller to Herb Vincent 1978
Frank Seymour Vincent's (1891 - 1936)
Tractor Magneto Wrenches
An excerpt on Jack Miller from Marge Coombs
Vincent's Biography of Flossie Pyle - Vincent, "A Ribbon in Her Hair"
The Plowing and Beet Hauling Business
Dad, in order to maximize his custom business, purchased a 2 ½ ton beet hauling truck in 1934. The large, rectangular-shaped wooden bed was designed to allow the two long sides to be hinge-lowered for easier loading. At that time there were many acres of sugar beets grown in the farmlands north of Hamilton and Mexican stoop labor was brought in to work the beet fields. The crops were contracted to the sugar factory in Missoula and, of course, the crop had to be hauled from the muddy fields to the railhead for transport. The trucker was paid by the ton abut I am sorry to say the amount of payment has long been forgotten.
Jack Miller had heard about the new truck and thought it would be exciting work to drive it. But Dad already had hired someone else to handle the job and he didn’t know if this young kid—this handsome young Kansan in his early 20’s could do the job. It was near the end of the threshing season so he was hired as a tractor man instead. It wasn’t many days until Dad took him off that job and put him on the beet truck. The other fellow hadn’t proved out—he was only hauling about 15 tons of beets a day with the two shovelers Dad had hired. That simply wasn’t enough to pay for the truck and make a profit.
Jack accepted the challenge. He was going to prove himself if it killed him. Jack told me, “The other driver wasn’t shoveling. I got out and helped the shovelers. It wasn’t long until we jumped it up to 30 tons a day. This one day I brought the account slip from the scales and showed your Dad. He said, ‘What’s this, there must be some mistake. You’ve got 40 tons down here!’” Jack said, “That’s right, that’s what we hauled today. His fact lit up like a country church!”
I think that was probably their peak day. They probably had ideal conditions—a high producing crop, they didn’t get stuck, they were feeling particularly good, the haul to the railhead may have been shorter, and the weather compatible. I am certainly not attempting to make light of these three men’s efforts. Much of their success was the gamesmanship, the comradeship and the challenge that Jack was able to instill in the men with whom he worked. It was another hard, dirty job well done.
In the spring and fall, after the threshing season, the tractor was operated for custom plowing. It was outfitted with lights so it could run long hours each day to accomplish the greatest amount of work following or before the winters freeze up. Low to the ground because of the rubber tires, it sometimes became mired or high-centered causing some delays. Jack Miller and Howard McKittrick did the plowing in shifts. Plowing was paid for by the acre but the charge cannot be remembered nor can the amount earned in a season.
After it froze up, Jack quotes our Dad as saying, “Jack, I can’t pay you anything this winter unless we can do some kind of work but you can stay here—your board isn’t going to cost you anything. I want you so stay with me.”
“And your Dad and I would up awfully close. I thought an awful lot of him. He taught me a lot of things that helped me in later life. He was just one peach of a guy. Of course, you know, like I say, there was a lot of difference in our ages but then your Dad said, ‘I’ve never seen anybody that I could put out and trust with anything more than I can you.’ So that went quite a ways with me. He was a wonderful guy. He wouldn’t do nothin’ to hurt anybody knowingly. He had a heart as big as the outdoors. He loved machinery and so did I.”
Frank Edward Vincent, Jack Miller, Herb Vincent
Pictured left to right:
Frank Edward Vincent
Jack Miller's wife
Photo by, Herb Vincent
For The Next Story
"The Lost Ring"