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(For Millstone) The Green Apprentice.

(For Millstone)
The Green Apprentice

"On the Road," with the Tramp Miller, the Green Apprentice.
"I" is for Itinerant Worker, the "Wandering" Miller,
Itinerant or Tramp Miller and Millstone Dresser.

Kokmo, Connecticut, April Fool Day, 1889.

Dear Cousin Ike,

In my last due bill I wrote you about the pleasures and trails of millers' conventions and banquets, also the puzzles and learning found in the milling papers. I will now give you some of the beautiful and impertinent points of a good miller; also name and explain some of the practical terms and conflexed names of machinery of the modern flour mill. I throw in the explanation to relieve your brain-holder, for some of these terms would be like Greco-Roman to you if you tried to solve them yourself, and right here will say the more you larn about milling the more you know that you've got to larn. It is a deep, dusty study. Now, to be a "gilt-edge" miller, you must have many good qualities, if not more. First, you must be spry of feet and brain, and a good modern and habitual temper, and, like a good doctor, have plenty of patience; also endoughed with a strong eye and ear-sight, to detect sound, and above all never spit tobacco juice on the floor or in the flour bin, for none but plug millers do this. You must also be a sudden judge of cheat in wheat and specks in flour; also know how to talk to the machinery men when they sell you, but they are reliable on all cash sales, and every one has the very best machine to make your flour whiter than corn flour, and it will,to hear them tell it, reduce your average yield (of cash) every year, and so forth.A man to be a god grinding miller must have a good wide thumb, free of warts or felons, or he cannot grind sensitively,; he must also be a good judge of when a spout is choked. With these traits, and a good nose for hot boxes, he will succeed as a miller, providing he has a situation and keeps out of polities and soda factories.

I was reading the advertisement of a perfect miller, looking for a situation, in the "want" columns of the leading advertising milling paper of American (that's this 'un) and he was so perfect, and so full of good qualities, I wondered why he ever had to loaf. I will give it to you. I cut it out and had it framed. I read it every chance I get, so I can some day be even better than he, if such a thing were possible. Here it is:

Wanted - A position as miller in a mill of any capacity, or dimension, for a term of one or ten years, or longer, by a tall slim, complected married man of experience; by if any kicking about being married occurs, would get divorced, if a good study job is guaranteed. I can do coopering or engineer work, and am a fair oiler and flour packer, and carry my own tools. Am honest in my habits and temperate in my actions. Have never drank a drop of tanglefoot in my life, except by myself or with somebody, or use tobacco in the mill or in my sleep; and go to church on Sunday, if there is no work to do. Never swear at trifling; am a good judge of wheat, money and book-keeping. Wages is not as much of an object as getting the job is. Will come on trail for a few years, and if satisfaction is not given will want to know the reason why. Came most any time the walking is good. Would prefer the East or Western states, but would not object to the North or Southern states. Any one wishing such a man had better let me know, and I will come if notified by return mail. I am a small eater.

Now there is a sample of a gilt-edge miller for you. I wrote to him, and he sent me his picture, which I paste at the head of this letter. He said this was taken while on the road, looking for a job. He had now stopped looking and gone advertising; he is from Chicago, as his feet will testify.

I will now give you a few of the milling terms used in milling. First, "If your mill gets too rich, cut her off, and make her poor." This does not apply to the mill proprietor, he never gets that way. If he should happen to be on the right side of wheat and rakes off a little profit, he loses it again trying to keep on the right side, and his is because wheat is the most uncertain, unsettled, and elastic priced grain the the market. It keeps a man guessing whether he had better be long or short, on medium-sized. We have in the mill several kinds of shafting, the upright running up and down, the line shafting running in and out of line, the round shafting running round corners - there are round in shape - we also have spur wheels, so-called, as they start and stop on the spur of the moment; the core wheel which has a large core, hung on the central part of the wheel. The miter wheel, which runs in pairs and differ mighty little, the bevel wheels which have one side trimmed off to make them look nice. We also have in out mill several hand wheels and wheelbarrows. We also have pulleys, so-names because they do the pulling, and hard belts that make them go, and also elevator legs, with boots, that never go. And strange to say that is the case with many other thing in the mill - they are name one thing and mean another, and are used for entirely different purposes. For instance; We have hopper-boys, which never hop, reels which have never danced and reel ribs that have never roasted, rolls that are never eaten, fans which never fan, eccentrics which are not eccentric, journals that are never read, but get red hot sometimes, parts which are not well posted; on the spouts we have pockets that are never full, and caps that never had a head in them just like white caps, and connected with shafting we have steps that are never heard, collars that are never laundried, and toes without corns, and flours not for bouquets, and so on until you would think the man that named all these things was thinking of something else when he done so. I tell you thing milling profesh is a deep, dusty study, and the longer you get mixed up in the business the more would you git, for you can pick up any milling paper and read the schemes and arguments of the learned writers on milling. Some claim they make more money by running the grease dirt into their flour, while other claim a better yield by taking it out of the wheat. These are the slit-break fellers. It is strange to me they cannot hitch onto some of these leading questions. If would be so much more agreeable and less annoyance to the publishers of the milling papers. Now again look at the long system lion and short-tailed dog, as these fellows call themselves, why cannot they come to terms and stop calling each other "cranks," and other pet names, and it is all about the breaks they make on the poor wheat. They are as bad as the bears and bulls, trying to break the wheat market. If the markets, or the price of wheat goes up, the bears try to claw it down to the bottomless pit, if it goes down the bulls gets in the pit and hoist it up on the sharp end of their horns, and away it goes to Halifax or some other seaport town. This kind of business hurts the flour broker, and then he has to get even on the poor miller, and so on. The poor Green Apprentice even feels the clawing and goring of these beasts. I tell you it's tough. But I am learning the trade fast and will some day be a big boss miller, and can carry a flour-slick made out of silver, and attend conventions, and eat and drink a full menew at the banquets, and leave as full of knowledge and menew as any the other dusties.
With this longing hope in view I will quit for this time, as I have to go and take some holes of of the bolting cloths, as Unke things the feed is specky.

Your cousin,
Nickolis Niknark.

The Millstone and the Corn Miller, D. H. Ranck Publishing Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 1889, volume 14, number 4, page 90.

Shelling Corn the Old-Fashioned Way by Hand.
From an advertisment for the "Western" Mill sheller, Union Iron Works, Decator, Illinois.

The Millstone and the Corn Miller, D. H. Ranck Publishing Company, Indianapolis, Indiana,
April 1889, volume 14, number 4, page pages viii, and xii.

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