Sutter Garage and Corn Shelling Service
Wilbur B. (Babe) Sutter was born in 1909 on the family farm which was located northeast of Towanda, just down the lane east from the Frog Alley School. He was the youngest and had five brothers and two sisters. Their grandfather had emigrated from Germany and from him the boys all inherited their mechanical abilities. They all loved to "tinker" with machines. In 1937 Wilbur married Helen Rudisill. He ran the Allis Chalmers dealership for a period of time. He also did custom work such as hay baling, corn shelling, farming and mechanical work. The latter was his main hobby and he could repair almost anything he tried. In 1945 Wilbur, along with his wife Helen and two daughters Phyllis and Wilburta moved into the big white house at the southwest corner of North and Madison Streets in Towanda. Not too long after the move Wilbur constructed, next to the alley, a large garage building with a rounded roof and tall ceiling. This was to become the Sutter Garage. Automobiles of that era and years to follow needed continuous maintenance. After several thousand miles the electrical ignition points and condenser and spark plugs would need to be replaced and the timing reset. After a few more thousand miles the values could be burnt and a "valve job" was needed. This consisted of grinding new surfaces on the valve and valve seat. If the car began to "use oil" then a "ring job" was needed. The rings that sealed the pistons where replaced. These will only a few of the routine jobs Wilbur did. Tractors also needed maintenance same as the automobiles. He took care of those too. In addition to being a skilled mechanic he was also an excellent welder and often was called on to repair various types of farm machinery. You could say he was a "Jack of All Trades!" Wilbur's other job was the corn shelling service. In those days, and for several years to follow, corn was "picked" from the field. A machine called a corn picker went through the field and removed the ears of corn from the stalk with the kernels still attached to the cob. The ears were placed in a corn crib to continue drying. When the farmer sold the corn and had to deliver it to the elevator is when Wilbur went to work. The corn had to be "shelled" (the kernels removed from the cob) before delivery to the elevator. Wilbur had a corn sheller which was mounted on a large truck chassis. He would locate this next to the corn crib and extend conveyers out. Neighbors of the farmer would typically help "scoop" the ear corn from the crib into the conveyers for delivery to the corn sheller. The shelled corn would go into one of the two trucks available for delivery and the cobs would end up in a cob pile. The cobs would later be used for a number of purposes or burnt. Several years later corn combines came on the scene. They would remove the kernels as the machines moved through the corn fields. The corn shelling service slowly came to an end. Wilbur continued to work in his garage until he passed away in 1972
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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