Lots of Luck, Love, and Tender Care

In 1939, when I was broke, I happened to develop a strong desire to get married due to a good opportunity that I was faced with. Not wanting to wait for my government allotment check to come, I borrowed $25 from my brother-in-law so I could get my act going. That twenty-five bucks made an elopement possible, also a three day honeymoon, Spokane style. In those days it wasn't the 'in thing' to shack up with a new-found Sugar to see if we were made for each other.

Since I spent time exploring Spokane during my single days, I knew it offered a girl, that lived a sheltered life, all the necessary entertainment to make her honeymoon a memorable one. By handling the borrowed $25 just right, I knew it could be done. That Justice of the Peace and that poor man's bridal suite at the Cour d'Alene Hotel took quite a chunk out of our spending money. Our wedding picture came to 25 cents. Payless Drug Store had a self-taking portrait booth, with a curtain for privacy. When we thought that we looked just right, Sugar pushed a button. After a happy hug or two, the picture came out of a handy slot.

Our wedding dinner consisted of a brisk walk over to the Washington Street Market, where a Dutchman and his wife served a plate of full dinner, including soup and pie, for 25 cents. There was a cover charge of five cents to have a scoop of ice-cream dumped on Sugar's pie.

Since Sugar never saw a stage show, it was pure luck that Sally Rand was in town, and performing on the Orpheum stage during our honeymoon. Sally's body, and her bubble, put on an artful show, for which she was famous. The glitter and beautiful stage lighting, as well as the loud music that the Orpheum's orchestra blared out, overwhelmed Sugar.

The next day was more of the same, except window shopping was stretched out a little longer to take care of our fantasies. On our last afternoon in Spokane, we called on Sugar's aunt Susie to see how she would react to our sudden marriage. She didn't give a darn what we did, and told us to sit down to a bowl of her Polish-type of potato soup.

After paying what we owed for the use of a hotel room, I found out there was enough money left to buy a box of smelly cigars. We took it for granted that we were going to be shivaried when we got back to Rocklyn. Guess it was just lots of luck, love, and tender care that we made a go of it for all these years.

"Honeymoon Days" Kik-Back Country p.39

Walt Kik


Alf Said I Stole It

The reason I'm so slow getting used to inflation is because Alf Gullikson of Creston had a sale eight years ago, where he had auctioned off a red and a green self-propelled combine. The two were in excellent condition, but red combines were out of style around Creston that year, so for only $200 it was all mine. Alf said I stole it, but I got a cancelled check to prove I didn't.

Let me tell you how reliable Alf's old red machine was. For the last three years of my farming life Sugar ran our old machines so I could enjoy running Mr. Gullikson's ex-self propel. He had it all fixed up, handy-like, so he could operate it with his artificial arm.

Five years ago, I sold Alf's old self propel, along with mine for company, to Scott Hamilton and his cousins, who had them shipped to Chehalis. In a foreign costal environment they are still performing every season by cutting soggy barley and wheat in a heavily populated dairy country.

It was rather a sad sight when we went over to take a look at our old combines. Alf's machine still looked natural, despite wet, greasy weeds all tangled around the header and sprokets. They were sitting among the coastal fir trees, truly out of their proper environment. Those machines were used to the dry, powdery dust of Lincoln County, where the air is filled with chaff and flying, dry straw. I'm sure those cheap Eastern Washington machines saved the Hamilton's a lot of money, making it possible to help cope with inflation.

"Getting Used to High Prices" Kik-Backs, p.46

Hamilton Farms Billboard, Chehalis, WA

Reconstructed image from June 2020


We Were Usually Scantily Dressed

Things that made me happy during long harvest days were, listening to the sickle as it beheaded the wheat, and the steady slapping of the reel bats, (something I'd miss with these new enclosed console models), the noon-day lunch alongside the combine, and stopping to unload so as to get in a brief vocal exchange with the truck driver, usually my sister-in-law or Sugar.

On a hot day, we were usually scantily dressed. Getting sprayed in between loads with the combine firehose, was as refreshing as a jump off a diving board. The wetness was good for at least one hour. Also, when the sky looked like showers, it was always a thrill to see if another round could be made before the clouds called the shots.

When the recent clouds moved in and got a bit of our standing grain all wet and chilly, it caused concern to replace the stress in the excitable, and woke up the meek to reality. Now both are able to walk arm in arm, sharing the same anxieties 'til the last wheat heads get threshed and put away where it's nice and dry.

"Enjoy Harvest" Kik-Backs, p.46


Clean as a Hound's Tooth

After studying Judge Nevins' picture over at the Meilkes the other night, I was reminded that right after I married Sugar, my monetary assets fell to a new low. It caused us to drive out to the east end of Spokane, where I could purchase a new axe handle for 40 cents. After paying an old crook for a handle that later warped into a bow, Sugar spotted a stately, board-like figure walking up the street, dressed in bird-legged striped pants. She asked me, "Could that be Judge Nevins?" "Yah," said I, "What's he doing in this seamy part of town? Could it be that he's looking for a house of ill repute?" That caused us to case the judge.

I knew he always carried a stiff neck, and it would give us time to duck if he tried to wheel around to see who was following him. After walking a couple of blocks, the judge turned sharply into a narrow, small building that had four stools and a bar, where huge milkshakes were sold for 10 cents.

He must have liked his dessert first, because when he got through sucking his shake through a straw, he immediately walked out of the place and turned into a coney island joint a couple of doors down the street. His two coneys came to 15 cents, plus one token, making him able to dine on the town for 25 cents and two-thirds cents.

After patting his face with a couple of napkins, the judge rose from his rather high perch, walked out and turned himself back to the business district of Spokane, with his moral character still as clean as a hound's tooth.

"Judge Nevins" Kik-Backs, p.29

Walt Kik


Chinese or Russians?

Properly preparing the combine for storage should become some sort of ritual. If done correctly, a feeling of nostalgia will sweep over you. Pick a day when the wind is real quiet, and that sun has that stingy fall feeling when it hits the outside of your skin. Tarry for a bit while looking out over the stubble fields. You will then realize your part of the job is done. Think for another moment, who will eventually eat all that wheat out there in those mountains of plastic-covered piles? Will it be the Chinese, or a lot of Russians?

"Mothballing Combines" Kik-Back Country p.47

Walt Kik
Creston August 2016


Several Scattered Yokels Guffawed

While attending a big Unitarian pow-wow Friday night in Spokane, a good friend suggested that since I am alone, why don't you do some of the things that Sugar would not be interested in. His words rang a bell, so Saturday after my swim at the Y, I felt devilish and bought a ticket at an X-rated movie house, just to see what those under 17 should not see.

Well, it was pure garbage and so crudely done that I cringed as several scattered yokels guffawed regularly at the most gauchest of sex scenes. Neither good lusty sex nor a story ever happened. Revulsion yielded to boredom. Even carnal atrocities in a carnal place finally become a drag. Muttering under my breath because I'd been taken, I headed out to the street and got lost among the many Lilac parade watchers.

Upon returning home Saturday evening, I could not think of another thing I would care to do without Sugar.

"Lonesome; Sugar Gone For The Weekend" Kik-Backs p.28


A Sprouting, Ambitious Farmer

Up to 1955 we farmers had a government guaranteed loan price of over $2.00 a bushel. From then on, 'til I tossed in the white flag in 1975, the price of wheat averaged $2.23 a bushel.

A sprouting, ambitious farmer, if he watches the market, can get about twice the price for his wheat than what us old ducks were able to average out, but you can't buy diesel for 19 cents a gallon either.

It would be a big help if the beginner was lucky enough to have married the farmer's daughter that happened to own a daddy who has faith in her guy. If not, the new future farmer will have to make a trip to the P.C.A. office or some other place where he is taken for a 14% interest ride, while his landlord is collecting at least 11% interest on money market certificates. That's the way the capital system works. Kind of scary for the beginners, isn't it?

"Inflation" Kick-Backs, p.41

Wheat prices from 1960 to 1990


One Gloomy Day

When the 1931 farm crisis hit, the government had not even started to develop the habit of jacking up the destitute farmers. Those early brave ones that traded their horses in for tractors were discriminated against. I could not get a loan because most of my loan money would have gone for tractor fuel. My neighbors with their barns full of hay for horse fuel could get small loans.

Most of the borrowed money the horse farmers received went to keeping them alive, while the tractor farmers were left to starve. Only fate saved the flat-broke horseless farmer.

One gloomy day, 56 years ago, my tractor was grounded from lack of fuel. Orlin Maurer knew about my plight, so while I was waiting for the oil company to trust me, he stopped in and said, "This morning I saw Charley Rux carrying a can of gas out to his tractor. I wonder how long he can afford that?" Then to rub things in a little deeper, Orlin continued, "My horses can work on empty stomachs. All they need is a lot of hay when they get back to the barn, Ha-Ha!"

"Farm Crisis" Kik-Back Country, p. 42

Walt Kik
Photo by Debbie Berger at 


A Place To Be Born In

Since so much has been written about Rocklyn, it's a shame Mondovi has been forsaken. After all, it's the same distance from our county seat as Rocklyn is, except you got to go in a different direction.

In 1889 the railroad missed Mondovi when it was building its way to Coulee City. So the town had to be moved down to where the railroad tracks were. According to records, when Mondovi became Mondovi, there were only 16 humans inside that proclaimed spot. However, when a sawmill got going, the usual frontier buildings began to appear. It helped Mondovi turn into a mini town. A blacksmith shop went into business mending broken rigs and farm equipment. The chop and feed mill supplied supplemental food for a lot of animals. A well cared for cemetery is still doing business on the outskirts of what is left of this burg.

Mondovi gave me a place to be born in. Proud to say it was a decent village. Even though it had a saloon, it left no permanent effects on my dad during the time my newly married parents lived there. It had room for two churches, so you see it was a place more holier than average for a place of its size. Streyfeller, the famous old time Lincoln County preacher got his start by preaching in Mondovi's Evangelical church. Later Streyfeller became converted to the Pentocostal faith. A well known Catholic family supplied the town with lots and lots of good Catholics. It was a tough place for a heathen to survive.

"Mondovi and the Zeimantz Family" Kik-Back Country, p. 20

Walt Kik
Real Estate Photo / Last remaining 
commercial building in Mondovi (?)

Walt Kik