Letter to the Editor

Writer offers tribute to John Henbest

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Editor:

As a young boy, I wanted to be like Johnny. When I would work, the sweat would drip off the end of my nose. I liked that. That was the same way Johnny sweated.

I have spent a multitude of hours doing farm work with Johnny. He and my dad were brothers, and they farmed together.

One time they were baling straw with Erskin Yarnall. The baler was missing bales, probably about every fourth bale. Johnny and I would ride on the baler and carry the broken bales around to the front of the baler to run them through again.

As a rule we parked the tractors on a hill. If they didn't start, you would have to roll them off to get them started.

Johnny said once "there are not many fields in the country that we have not been in," either cutting seed, baling hay or spreading lime or fertilizer, and I added, or cutting silage. And that is about right.

Johnny was a self starter. No one had to tell him to get out early in the morning and get started. He was a leader in farming changes. He went to Iowa and got a big round baler when there was only a few around.

Sorghum making was an important part of his life. His dad had made sorghum all of his life. Johnny had the idea of going to Louisiana and getting a sugar cane press. A big sorghum company in Iowa was chopping the cane in long pieces and running it through this kind of press.

I have seen him take a large pipe, hook it to the back of a truck, suspend the back tires of a John Deere 55 combine and let the front tires run on the road. Rodger Smith, his son-in-law, said "he brings those combines back on nothing but a piece of pipe."

I have drunk root beer floats with him at Toot and Tell'um. I have set on the creek bank and ate dinner with him when we were combining. He always had Vienna sausage. There is no telling how many cans of Vienna sausage he ate.

More so now than then, I realize it was a privilege to work with him on the farm.


Larry Henbest

Cassville, Missouri