During our conversation on the 27th of December in 1996, my father, Joe Rhode, said that a few farmers in the vicinity of Pine Village, Indiana, sold their wheat straw to the “Straw Board,” common name for the Lafayette Box Board and Paper Company at the foot of Chestnut Street, “which used decent yellow straw to make boxes.” Dad added that the straw could even be “damp—but not rotten and black.” As nearly as I can tell through research, “strawboard” (also “straw-board” or “straw board”) in my father’s generation was used principally for a corrugated liner in cartons and boxes.*
Similar to the Lafayette Box Board and Paper Co. in Indiana—
The F. R. Lewis Straw Board Factory in Flint, Michigan
According to my father, trucks from the Indiana Wagon Company, on the southeast corner of South Street and Earl Avenue in Lafayette (about two and a half miles east from the Lafayette Box Board and Paper Company), took bales of straw from Pine Village to Lafayette in late fall and early winter. “The trucks … were gas-powered on hard rubber tires and were known as ‘Indiana’ trucks.” My guess is that the Indiana Truck Corporation of Marion, Indiana, built the trucks, although my father implied that the Indiana Wagon Company had manufactured them or had assembled them. I mention my uncertainty because my father was seldom incorrect, and I clearly recall his implication that the Indiana Wagon Company had built the straw-hauling trucks. I have yet to find evidence that Lafayette’s Indiana Wagon Company manufactured trucks.
Another conversation took place on the 18th of October in 1997. My father said, “One cold winter day in 1928 or ’29, Uncle Charley and I went to a farm near Ladoga to look at a rusty tractor, a 12–20 Case crossmotor. Uncle Charley bought it. He had been told about it by [his wife’s] brother. Uncle Charley’s mechanical genius was challenged by this near-lemon. In the early fall of 1930, Uncle Charley got a Waterloo Boy from the Evans farm, then owned by Thomas Donahue, just south of Oxford. The Evans farm is that beautiful dairy farm.” My father continued, “One son [in the Donahue family] became an MD; the second, a dentist—both in Lafayette—and the third farmed the land of the Donahues. I eventually bought a [Minneapolis–Moline] with a manure scoop from the son who was a farmer. Our family, thus, had two tractors a generation apart [that] had been owned by Donahues.”
My father remembered, “The Case was used only for spring plowing and disking. Corn picking was not yet done by a tractor, so the Case remained idle much of the year. As soon as Charley got the Waterloo Boy,” which was better than the Case, “he hauled chicken houses with it. Charley died shortly after buying this two-cylinder Waterloo Boy. The Case and the Waterloo Boy were the first two tractors in my family.”
* As I could find no photograph of the strawboard company in Lafayette, I substituted an image of a similar business in Flint, Michigan. I am indebted to this blog: https://buickman2.wordpress.com/author/buickman2/page/12/.