TRIBUTE TO BROTHER WESLEY
From Luther with love, June, 1989 revised April 17, 2001
Wesley and I as twins had a unique relationship in our family because we were the last of seven brothers; there were no sisters. On the morning after our birth in Cedar Vale, Kansas on March 18, 1920, our youngest brother, Matthew, aged 3 1/2 and already harassed by four older brothers, was brought into our parent’s bed room on the farm and exclaimed in a shocked voice, “Two babies, Mother, two babies!!”
These were the roaring twenties, and by the time we were five, our parents had ditched the horse and buggy and with the profits from a thirty-acre field of Kafir corn they had purchased a Model T Ford. The family farming activities included running a 60 quart raw milk dairy with milk deliveries morning and night, raising thoroughbred farm animals–Hampshire hogs, Hereford cattle, Ancona chickens and Holstein milk cows and assorted geese, guineas, and turkeys. We early become aware that living on a farm meant hard work and responsibility and were harnessed into feeding the chickens, sloping the pigs, milking the cows, and harnessing and hitching the horses to a plow or a hay rack to help in the harvest. The milk had to be delivered both morning and night and during school months this meant before any evening studying and in the morning before the school bell rang. More times than not, we ran late and because our elementary school took up 30 minutes later, Wesley and I had to carry four or five quarts of milk in our arms from the milk truck parked at the high school to customers who lived in the direction of the elementary school, passing the school yard where the children were playing. In my life, there isn’t anything I hated worse than walking by our school and having the children see us–for I felt enslaved by the dairy and disgust for our older brothers who had slept too late that morning.
By the time we were in the 5th grade, we were aware of great happenings in our personal lives and the entire world. Mussolini was in power in Italy and the Great Depression of 1929, started when we were in the 4th grade. In the 2nd grade mother’s relatives sued our family for recovery of money and the farm was mortgaged to pay the debt; the mortgage hung over our heads for almost 25 years until it was repaid. Herbert Hoover, who fed the hungry in Europe after World War I, was elected president when we were in the 4th grade only to be confronted by hungry striking workers towards the end of his term just before Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. Almost every week during the depression we saw our neighbor’s farms foreclosed by banks. And chaos on chaos, Dad died in June of 1931 in a state mental institution. Six or eight months before he died, I remember helping him load about 15 squealing piglets in the lumber wagon and taking them to town to be sold to the government to be slaughtered to reduce the farm surpluses of hogs. At the same time on the West coast barge loads of oranges were being dumped into the Pacific Ocean.
By this time our two older brothers had left the farm. So the Buchele Brothers (all minors) and our widowed mother were stuck with a mortgaged farm and grossly depressed farm prices. In the Fall of 1931 just after Dad had died, we sold 18 head of “feeder cattle” for $600–barely enough to pay the interest on the $5,000 mortgage!
But enough of this recital of hardships! Our family life was warm and caring, we cooperated in the work and we lead a very privileged existence! I remember Wesley and my long walks in the woods behind the farm house and south around the river bend. There were large oak covered ravines with surrounding steep hills with limestone outcropping at many levels in the hill. We used to examine the evidences of old marine life in the rocks and wonder about their origins. Some of the outcropping of stone hung over caves where we imagined that Indians had camped. We found Indian arrowheads in the plowed fields and discovered that they were easier to find just after a heavy rain because the rain had washed off the dirt and made them more visible. Wild fruit, nuts, and berries came with the seasons–strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, transparent apples came early in June and later Winesap apples in the in the fall were accompanied by Kefer pears some as large as an adult fist. In the late fall we gathered black walnuts that stained our hands brown and wild grapes that stained them purple. The vegetable garden was below the orchard south of the house and Wesley and I spent many hours gardening, hoeing the weeds, planting seeds, mulching the tomatoes and gathering in the produce. We cut asparagus, pulled rhubarb, dug potatoes, picked peas and beans, snapped off corn ears, and picked strawberries. As the last of youngsters in the family, we were sent to the garden alone and expected to bring back food for the table.
At an early age, Wesley and I had developed secret imaginary playmates. It must have been when were were three or four years old and barely able to talk. We had vivid conversations about our “babies” and the wonderful experiences they had. They owned fabulous estates, fought incredible battles, were champions of the poor, and stalwart in matters of civic duty and ethical behavior. Later, upon reaching 10 or so we changed their names from “Our Babies” to “Our Bears,” I suppose we considered ourselves too old to cuddle to babies Never-the-less, Our Bears were our constant companions and in our conversations together. I suspect that our older brothers and parents felt that we were a bit daffy because of our prolonged babbling. Part of the stories were pure bravado–my bear would do this (and in my mind he had done it) and Wesley would top the exploit telling of his bear’s performance! I wish that I could capture the vivid intensity of our imaginations and how assertively we defended and approved of their adventures. But this was to pass all too quickly. Wesley’s mechanical mind and compulsion to do things with his hands took over and he began spending a lot of time in the workshop making models of farm implements–hay bailers, disk plow, and hay stackers while my interests turned to reading and doing home chores such as cooking and interior decoration. I used to be embarrassed when my mother would tell the church ladies that I had made the cake we brought to the church dinner. I resented the time that Wesley spent in the workshop because too much of my time, I thought, was saddled with helping mother in the house. Mother excused him from this work because she could hear him hitting and banging things in the workshop. So, I would go the the workshop and take a hammer and beat the huge blacksmith anvil and make a lot of noise. Much to my dismay, I found this wasn’t working because one can only bang so much and any way it was boring. So my natural organizing ability took over and I began to sort things in the workshop into various cubbyholes, straightening nails on the anvil, and to clean out the threads of bolts and nuts with a die set that received approving nods from the family. For my lives vocation, I became the Executive Secretary of a student housing cooperative where my skills of cooking, home decoration, and keeping track of a multi-detailed operations were at my complete command. I had lived in a co-op house at the University of Kansas before accepting the housing job in Ann Arbor.
THE DEPRESSION YEAR
But this is ahead of the story. After Dad died when were were in the 5th grade, Paul and Julian had to take on the role of father figures for Matthew, Wesley and I. Of course there were our older half-brothers Robert and Ned, who visited often and helped to keep the lid on things. As I look back on those depression days during the 30′s, it didn’t appear that there was much direction in the management of Buchele Brothers. farming, dairy, and ranching operations. There was in fact, almost pure anarchy where each family member saw what needed to be done, and did it without any reward except the satisfaction of seeing the job completed and the family held together. We raised cattle, hogs, chickens, wheat, corn, and other small grains. Paul and Julian, while still in high-school, decided to expand the farm operations by share-cropping hundreds of acres of land in the depression ridden community. With one tractor, we took turns plowing , tilling, and harvesting the fields 24 hours a day, all of us taking turns running the lone tractor and sleeping. We hired out to the neighbors for pay, brought more implements and took on more land. To make a long story short, because of our efforts and the Roosevelt Farm Recovery. program we made it! We all completed high-school, became Democrats (up to 1940 at least) and all of us went to college. About the time Matthew was graduating from High-school, it was obvious that he was absolutely determined to go to college. During the Spring of 1936, Wesley and I were snooping around in the clothes closet of the second floor in our bedroom and discovered a small catch of money under the closet rug. We gleefully displayed the find to our family in great excitement! It wasn’t long before the source of the catch confessed–Matthew admitted salting the money away from the dairy route collections to go to the University of Kansas! No one held it against him as I recall and most of us were secretly delighted that someone was doing something about going to college except to talk about it. Over the spring and summer it was decided that Matthew and Paul would load up the old Ford panel Truck (by now we had two cars plus a truck) with bedding, dishes, utensils, furniture, and food stuff and they would batch in an apartment while going to college. These were days of great excitement! The high-school typing class had a large window facing the highway, and I can still see in my mind’s eye while sitting in the typing class the old black panel truck coming down Hi-way #166 headed toward Sedan (after gassing up at the Co-op Exchange Filling Station) headed to Lawrence and the University of Kansas.
LUTHER AND WESLEY’S HIGH-SCHOOL DAZE
Since Matthew no longer drove the car and Wesley and I were not of legal driving age, Mother hired a live-in high-school senior Zelda Wilkinson from down Caney River to stay with us and complete high-school. She was to drive us on the dairy route and bring us home.
With Matthew and Paul gone, Julian had sole responsibility for the farm, but Wesley and I were very much into doing the chores. My self-centered view is that Wesley and I may have done the major job of milking, bottling the milk, and making the deliveries both morning and night; but the important thing was that it got done.
Before the end of his first term at the University, Paul’s fast heart and high blood pressure got the better of him, He came home and was sent to bed for a year to recuperate and Julian took his place at KU. He got a job at Kappa Kappa Gamma to pay part of his expenses while Matthew delivered the “Daily Kansan,” the college student newspaper.
With Paul in bed, Wesley and I were really holding down the farm, except for Harold Snodgrass, a young hired man from the Irish Flats near Maple City. He took care of feeding the cattle, plowing the fields, and cutting wood.
A tragedy struck the following winter, Wesley came down with a sore throat which Paul and I caught. For Paul and I, it was diagnosed to be Scarlet Fever since we had a red rash. Wesley’s case was called Scarlatina (no rash). Since we were running a dairy, Paul and I were placed in quarantine. The only solution was to get us out of the house and away from the dairy. Paul and I moved to the “other place” or the Spring Branch Farm, and we setup housekeeping and nursing ourselves back to health. I wasn’t very sick, so after a few days I started spring plowing, harrowing, and disking the fields with the tractor. I read books and restored the old pump organ that had been left in the house which we later donated to the 4-H club.
Poor Wesley and Harold Snodgrass!!!! They had to do all the work and Wesley was the sole dairy route slave, except that brother Ned, who lived on the Mary Buckley Farm North of Cedar Vale often came to help. About ten days into this exhausting schedule, Wesley fell asleep while driving the car on the milk route and bumped into another auto! Very little damage was done except to his ego.
Julian completed the Spring term at KU and returned to school the following fall. He had some football aspirations while at KU, but compared to the big bruisers, he was a runt in. He had elected to become an engineer, but the math was too much for him, and anyway he was constantly worried about the farm, so he threw in the rag and came home for good after the Winter Term.
In the meantime, Wesley and I graduated from high-school and because Matthew had one more year of college to finish, I stayed out of school one year. Wesley received a 4-H Club Cooperative Marketing Scholarship, to Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas, which had been awarded by Consumer Cooperative Association (now Farmland Cooperatives) as a result of a high score on a cooperative marketing test he had taken.
4-H CLUB DAYS–HEAD, HEART, HANDS AND HEALTH
In our teens, Wesley and I were active in the Spring Branch 4-H Club and were elected to many leadership positions. We carried many club projects–fat pigs, fat calves, poultry, conservation, cooperatives, demonstrations, and 4-H club Model Meetings. We wrote two demonstrations, “How to make capons,” and “How to produce clean milk.” Our home town just happened to be the home base of George Bowie, the only manufacturer of caponizing tools in this country and perhaps the world. We had delivered milk to his home and were well acquainted with him. Because we had read his handouts publicizing the economic benefits of making capons out of young roosters, we begged a set of tools from him to demonstrate the art in a 4-H demonstration contest. Bowie has just invented an electric knife testicle remover powered by a 6-volt battery. Inventing knives seemed to run in his family because he bragged that he was directly related to the Texas man of Alamo fame who invented the Bowie knife.
THE CAPON DEMONSTRATION
There were several problems for us about this demonstration. First it was “show business” for us since we only had raised to maturity the total of one capon in our two year “capon period”. Secondly talking about the removal of the testicles of a rooster was uncomfortable to us –particularly in front of a large audience.
An embarrassing incident occurred on stage in one of our many presentations of this demonstration which kept the family laughing for many years. The demonstration was presented before a Labor Day celebration at the Cedar Vale Park Pavilion, a large airy building that was the pride and joy of the town. Everything went well up to the point that the second testicle was to be removed. The text of the demonstration called for me to remove the second testicle, I positioned the bird, made the skin incision between the ribs, inserted the spreader and locked it. Wesley handed me the electric forceps. I slipped it gently over the testicle and applied current to sever the spermatic cord, Somehow my hand slipped and the adjacent vein was cauterized and immediately the peritoneal cavity filled with blood, the bird was dead! The next line in the script was the instruction to remove the bird from the holding device, setting the bird on its feet and saying enthusiastically, ” The operation hasn’t hurt him a bit!” Since he was dead, I held him up by the wings, and flapped them up and down and shouted, “SEE HOW LIVELY HE IS, “THE OPERATION HASN’T HURT HIM A BIT!”
I tossed him in the chicken coop behind the demonstration table, we cleared the tools and visual aids from the platform and hurried backstage. That concluding phrase of the demonstration became as familiar in our house as the first line of the Gettysburg address always followed by loud guffaws! In appreciation for our demonstrating his tools, George Bowie decided to give us pictures of our demonstration. He drove us to Arkansas City, 40 miles to the west where a professional photographer took seven or eight poses of the the demonstration from start to finish. The last visual aid of the demonstration was a poster which stated our motto, “A flock of capons on every farm!”
After the photo session, he took us to a restaurant for lunch. In several weeks, Mr. Bowie gave us each a set of the pictures which were beautifully done and attractive because we were clean-cut boys and dressed in white shirts, white pants, and black ties. We thought this would be the end of the capon business.
Several months later, to our surprise, Mr. Bowie sent us a package of capon tool advertisements which was illustrated with four of our pictures. The advertising text described our demonstration and alleged that the profits from raising a flock of capons on our farm had saved our widowed mother’s farm mortgage from being foreclosed!
He had not only used our photos in his advertising folders but wrote and sent an article about us to several poultry magazines. We were sent copies of each of the magazines. Wesley and I soon began receiving fan mail–letters telling what good boys we were to help our poor old widowed mother!
Several years later Mr. Bowie conned from our mother an army portrait of Wesley in uniform and published it in his advertising folders along with our demonstration pictures. The accompanying text gave a glowing account of Wesley’s army career and what a credit he was to the home town, mother, and country.
CLEAN MILK PRODUCTION
The second demonstration, “How to produce clean milk,” was a natural since we ran a raw milk dairy (before the state’s pure milk act required pasteurization) and was of more general interest. It won first place in the county demonstration competition and 2nd place at the state fair competition. We had modeled our demonstration after one we had seen the previous year at the state fair and this one was notable for us in later years because one of the demonstrators was Sid –a twin brother of the woman Wesley later married–Mary. On the stage, Wesley and I presented an appealing picture, dressed in white shirts, black ties, and white pants and wearing a green and white 4-H inverted boat shaped hats. At the conclusion of the demonstration we had written instructions to open our palms with fingers extended to the audience and say together as proof that we had observed clean milking procedures, “See how clean our hands are!”
While I was studying for my masters degree in Bacteriology at the University of Kansas, I occasionally reflected on this line and realized it would have made more sense to have shown by comparison an enlarged photograph of the count of bacteriological bacterial colonies in a Petri dish–a before and after proof in the pudding!
MOST OUTSTANDING 4-H BOYS IN STATE
That same year, Wesley and I were each awarded a gold filled medallion in recognition of our being named the outstanding 4-H boys in the State of Kansas. The news release said that the selection committee couldn’t decide which one of us was the most outstanding, so they recognized us both!
COLLEGE AND THE ARMY
That year at the Cooperation and Conservation encampment, Wesley was awarded a college scholarship for his making the best grade on the cooperative marketing test, and he was off to Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas to earn a degree in Agricultural Engineering. We didn’t see much of Wesley on the farm after that because he had joined the army ROTC program and spent his summers at ROTC camps. He was made a 2nd lieutenant when he volunteered for army service after Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1951). During the war I was Classified 4-F as I had a hearing problem, was color blind, and high blood pressure.
Just after graduation from Kansas , Wesley and Mary, a fellow Kansas State College were married at Minneapolis, Kansas and I was asked to be the best man.I know very little of Wesley’s army experiences except for photographs sent home. His unit in Northern Japan was assigned to destroy weapons emplacements.
After working on the farm one year I took a room at the University of Kansas, collecting two degrees–an A B in Zoology and a Masters in Bacteriology. During most summers I returned home to help on the farm. In the last several years in Lawrence, I worked on a Department of Defense Bacteriological Warfare Project.
After the war, Wesley and Mary settled in Waterloo, Iowa where he had accepted a job working for the John Deere Company in implement design. My most vivid memory of this period is his angry complaint that he was told to design machine parts that would wear out in a certain length of time so that the implement would literally fall apart like the famous “one-horse shay!” The term now used, I understand is “PLANNED OBSOLESCE.”
I visited Mary and Wesley in Waterloo several times and was impressed that they were building a duplex home to live in (with another employee of John Deere). In his house, Wesley had built a “Skinner” box for baby Rodney to keep him from getting chilled and safe from becoming entangled in his bed clothes.
He left John Deere and enrolled in the Master’s degree program at the Agricultural College in Fayetteville, Arkansas where he did research on rice culture. He next enrolled in the P H D program at Iowa State College at Ames where his main interests were new tillage methods, torque testing devices, and his famous round hay bailer. Every time we pass a field full of round bails, think of Wesley! He next took a professorial position in the Agricultural Engineering Department at Michigan State College at East Lansing which is about 60 miles north of Ann Arbor. We remember best his mechanical pickers for pickles and strawberries; also safety devices for lawn mowers.
WESLEY — FAMILY MAN
It was when he was close by us in Michigan that I became aware of Wesley–the family man! By this time three more children had been added to the family–Beth, Carol, and Steven and each having personalities of their own.
They now lived in a suburb of East Lansing, Okemos . I wasn’t yet married and spent many week-ends visiting and I began to see him as a busy professor and caring father. It was not lost on me that his family came first. On these visits, free from family cares myself and fresh from the political and social ferment going on in Ann Arbor, I must have been a thorn in their flesh for they were conservative in religion, politics, and many social issues. After my marriage (with Wesley as best man) Joan and I visited them in Bath, north of East Lansing in the muck country, where they lived on a small farm just outside the village and the long walks in the farm fields. They lived in a large farm house and had a marvelous vegetable garden from which we carried home arm loads of fresh produce after each visit.
Over the years, I have seen growth in Wesley’s Professional interests and a turn about in his ideas. Early on, he believed that the larger the implement–the better. In later years he made a major contribution of to the field of Agriculture Engineering when he urged the American Agricultural Engineering Society (in a Presidential speech) to adopt the concept that “Smaller is better!” He said that the insane drive to build giant machinery was not cost effective. The cost of idle machines depreciating while setting around the farm lot is considered. Highly skilled workers must be hired to operate them. Giant machines are useless in small fields.
Wesley’s interest in the “Living History Farm” near Des Moines is a demonstrates that he felt that the small family farm had many satisfactions and social values and wasn’t as cost inefficient as was originally supposed. His and Mary’s interest in pesticide and chemical free foods is a turn around from his early advocacy of systematic herbicide and pesticide spraying of farm crops!
His mind boggling intercontinental trips to attend conventions and consult are examples of the respect that his colleagues hold for his professional accomplishments! He is a compassionate teacher. a dedicated researcher, and recognizes the need to use appropriate technology as he teaches and consults world-wide. I remember his description of a multi-purpose gasoline motor that he had seen in Japan that could be hitched in an implement that could plow the fields, harvest a crop, cart the produce to market–or for that matter take the family for a ride. One gasoline engine on a small farm in Japan made a lot of sense to him, and what was more important–the motor was part of the implement–not just pulling it.
Because of his appreciative nature, he noticed the menace of farm machinery accidents and their relation to poor design. I was proud that in his legal testimonies, that he took the part of the victims as many times as for the implement companies. Several years ago, Wesley was invited to a hand surgeons conference at the University of Michigan to speak to them about farm people’s injuries and how they happen. We were thrilled to be invited and hear him describe the accidents and showing his color slides of the blood and gore of the accident.
WHAT IT MEANT TO ME TO BE A TWIN OR HOW LIFE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT
As twins, we were always closely watched and called the “Buchele Twins” Although we were not identical twins (I actually looked more like brother Matthew) teachers, neighbors, shopkeepers couldn’t tell us apart. We couldn’t help but to feel that most people were stupid or at least a bit soft headed! Because of our shared experiences– almost 24 hours a day, we intuitively understood what the other one of us was thinking and what response or action was required in almost every situation. We rarely had disagreements nor had we the need for lengthy explanations to each other. To this day, I miss the closeness we experienced. I expect my wife to perfectly understand the why and wherefores of events that happen in our family and to be clairvoyant on what is in my mind–that explanations are not necessary. On occasions I become irritated by people close to me that need long explanations about my behavior or reasons for such and such a conclusion let alone how I arrived at the conclusion. We turned the corners simultaneously as we came to them. We completed each others sentences.
Wesley was more outgoing that I which may be the reason he married earlier. I was more the sorter, the put back in place person, writing the minutes of meetings, typing the papers, driving the car–sort of assisting. I believe that I was more of an observer and certainly the social critic, perhaps much more concerned with the, “What happens next scenario.” I was cautious of technology, the fast pace of industrialization and its effect on people and the environment. He was the teacher of process–finding the way to increase production. He had a religious faith that all would end well, I was pessimistic with the message, “Cheer up, the worst is yet to come.”
Our lives parted at the age of 19. My 25 year old son, Royd, reminds me a lot of Wesley–the same drive, optimism, and outgoing nature. When I’m with Wesley these days, I’m so turned in to their similar personalities that I forget and call him, “Royd.”
It is not easy to write introspectively recording a time in life when we were almost one person. People have often asked me, ‘How different it might have been without the twin?” It is the same kind of question that people ask me about my color blindness, “How do you see colors?”
The only thing I know is that certain shades of blue and green look the same, and the same for purple and red. I guess that I’ll never know what colors look like to “normal” people, or how it might have been to have been born without a twin. Except at times, I still feel lonely for him!
Our Kansas family lived in the South Eastern portion of Kansas and from our front door you could 15 or so mile away, the Blue Mound of Oklahoma–a landmark of the Indians and the early settlers. Cedar Vale was about 70 miles from Missouri. In those days of the horse and buggy, Wesley and I were 14 years old before we had traveled to another state. On a 4-H trip to the Sedan–the county seat, 20 miles from Cedar Vale, we drove the car into Oklahoma just to cross the state line. It was a big deal for our adventurous nature! In our high-school’s Hi-Y Program (high-school YMCA) we attended a youth conference held in Ottawa, Kansas–almost 150 miles north of home and stayed two days.
4-H CLUB TRIPS
There were numerous 4-H trips to the 4-H encampments held at the Kansas State College in Manhattan. We slept in the gym along with 600 other boys. There were movies, model 4-H competitions, displays of agricultural literature, and a lot of group singing which on some nights was carried on the radio and our parents could listen! The highlight of the week was a group picture in which we were posed sitting on the grass inside a marked outline of the four leaf clover which was the symbol of the 4-H clubs in the USA. If we were fortunate, we were seated at the front of the picture and could be recognized–otherwise we appeared in the picture as a blob of hair. A similar 4-H encampment was held in Hutchinson during the State Agricultural Fair and Reunion in the huge 4-H building which accommodated more than l,000 boys and girls. The fair had a giant midway with all the carnival whoopla. Farmers brought their agricultural products to displayed and have judged and the ladies brought their handicrafts and canned and baked foods. It was impressive and we were very proud some years later to learn the brother Paul had been elected to the State Board of Agricultural which automatically made him a member of the Board of Directors of the state fair–and one year he was President!
One year, Wesley and I were selected to direct the serving of the club members in the dining room–all l,000 seated in one room at long tables after they had passed through a cafeteria line. This cafeteria was certainly an eye opener and it was a thrill to be amongst them. The girls wore green dresses trimmed in green and the boys wore white shirts and pants with a black tie. The camp wasn’t all recreation; we had exhibits to tend, demonstrations to perform, livestock to feed, water, and groom, livestock judging contests, and a social life to pursue.
There was a Fat Stock Show held each year in Wichita 90 miles to the north and west. To attend you had to take a farm animal that you had had as a 4-H project. The animals were first judged by expert judges and on the last day of the show, the animals were sold at public auction most of them bringing prices well above the current market rate. The first prize winners sometimes made a fortune for the lucky boy or girl, since the price per pound was sometimes multiplied 10 or more times. We never received any prizes, but it was fun!
One summer, our Club booked space at a scout camp near Ponca City, Oklahoma for a weeks vacation. The attraction was a huge swimming pool with chlorinated water (our first encounter with chlorine and burning eyes). During the week, we listened to lectures on crop management and took tours to keep us busy. I remember one field lecture on grasses. Before that lecture I saw all grasses as very much the alike–short or tall, annual or perennial, or foxtail or busy head. Afterwards, I saw markings particular to species such as brome grass or gamma grasses.
These 4-H trips and programs were most impressive in their content and scope for us yokels–we were bug-eyed! In later years, I have wondered about the true intent of the program . Was it the intent of the program planners to prepare the boys and girls to stay on the farms and become life-long farmers? Or did the powers-that-be know of the coming upheavals in the agricultural sector and design the program to encourage the kids to want to leave the farm by exposing them to the glamor and appeal of urban life and stimulate them to migrate to the cities? I think unintentionally, that is what happened–we were motivated to leave the farms!
We farm kids born in the 20′s saw the devastating depression of the 30′s and the migration of bankrupt farmers to become industrial laborers. Hoards of youth our age had to seek their livelihood away from their hometowns. I returned with my family to the State Fair in 1969 to be present at the fair when Brother Paul was President of the Fair Board of Directors. On one of the days, I asked him to obtain a lunch invitation at the 4-H Building–to return to Wesley and my old camping ground–so as to speak. Only 250 campers showed up for lunch–it was then I knew the extent of the depopulation of the Kansas farmland and the memory of the lunch still brings tears to my eyes! Even as I type these lines I am shaken emotionally with sadness. We had such a joyous experience. The huge almost empty building seemed to forecast the end of a way of life that would never return to the land.
It was fortuitous that the 4-H program in the 30′s and 40′s opened our eyes and ears to larger vistas. Without that stimulation, we might have spent our days bitter, frustrated, and unmotivated eking out a living on the farm to see only failure on the horizon.
MEANING OF THE 4-H EXPERIENCE
In reading over what I have written in this tribute to Wesley, I’m surprised to discover that I wrote so much about the 4-H experience, as if it was the beginning and the end of all our devotion and interests. The Cedar Vale High School was an excellent school; There were the usual sports, musical, and drama activities in which we participated. But our real focus of activity was the 4-H Club and the many trips and opportunities for growth and leadership. There is a 4-H program in Ann Arbor and we have attended 4-H fair at the County Farm Bureau Park. Some of the 4-H projects were familiar. Many of the children had as projects horses to show or to exhibit their riding skills. I felt dejected as I wasn’t comfortable with 4-H’ers associating with the horsy set. There were lots of rabbits, pigeons and a smattering of livestock.
Our children were never involved in the Ann Arbor 4-H Club. Their activities were centered in the YMCA-YWCA Indian Guides, Unitarian-Universalist Sunday School, Junior Theater, and several vacation camps near Ann Arbor. We usually visited Kansas relatives several weeks every other summer.
I know that some of Wesley’s children were 4-H members. I have never talked to them about how they regarded their 4-H experience That is a subject for another time and place.
FROM THE FAMILY
Things we remember about Uncle Wesley and Aunt Mary: Visits to their homes in Bath Michigan and Ames Iowa and the wonderful homemade rolls.
Trips to Wesley’s office in the Agricultural Engineering Buildings and seeing his latest inventions.
Help and encouragement concerning all our professional interests.
Wesley Buchele family visits to our cottage on Lake Michigan.
How happy we were that Wesley attended Luther’s Co-op Hall of Fame Celebration and he and Mary attended Royd’s wedding.
Their strong love, concern, and support of all the BUCHELE FAMILY. Wesley has always said that the family should come first.
Best wishes on your retirement!
Joan, Libbie, Royd, Theresa and Heidi Buchele
On the eve of his retirement I can only say, “BRAVO, FORTISSIMO! LONG LIVE WESLEY F. BUCHELE AND HIS WIFE MARY !”
Luther H. Buchele