Arkansas man, 87, climbs on com­bine for one last har­vest

Texarkana Gazette - - METRO/STATE - By Kelly Patz

CON­WAY, Ark.—At a farm out­side Con­way, an 87-year-old man climbed onto a com­bine to har­vest corn for about an hour Sun­day af­ter­noon.

It’s an event Bernie Sa­muels had been an­tic­i­pat­ing for at least 15 years, since the day he turned to his wife and said, “Be­fore I die I want to see how they har­vest corn now.”

Af­ter spend­ing time work­ing in a corn­field in Wis­con­sin as a teen, Sa­muels thought about re­turn­ing to the har­vest of­ten.

But he did not know how he would man­age it un­til a few weeks ago, when the Fayet­teville res­i­dent got a call from Kevin Van Pelt, an ex­ten­sion agent for Con­way County.

Van Pelt said he had heard about Sa­muels through his nephew, and that he had ac­cess to a corn field and a com­bine that Sa­muels could ride in Septem­ber.

The Arkansas DemocratGazette re­ports the night be­fore the drive to the farm, Dorothy Sa­muels watched her hus­band lay out his clothes on the bed and re­hearse what he would say to the farm­ers about the way he had once har­vested corn, walk­ing the rows with nine other men and throw­ing each ear in the truck that rolled be­hind them.

On the farm, Bernie Sa­muels wanted to know about the bushels per acre, the num­ber of inches be­tween each row.

The new tech­nolo­gies en­am­ored him: over­head sprin­klers, pivot ir­ri­ga­tion, hy­brid crops that pro­duced more ker­nels in one ear than his had in three.

When they got to the com­bine, he strug­gled to bal­ance and a group of men helped him up.

“But once they got him to where he could get his hands on the bar, he just hiked up there like he was 16,” Dorothy Sa­muels said.

For an hour, Bernie Sa­muels rode with them.

“Just watch­ing them cut that corn,” he re­called of his ex­pe­ri­ence Mon­day.

When the men moved to help him down, he waved them away.

““Once they got him to where he could get his hands on the bar, he just hiked up there like he was 16.” —Dorothy Sa­muels, de­scrib­ing her hus­band, Bernie Sa­muels

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