Hello fellow huskers and friends! What a spring we have had so far! I do not know about the weather pattern in your area, but I do know about mine; it has been a long winter in north-central Missouri. Winter weather started the first of December, and it is still hanging on as I write this article the second week of May. We have not had a warm week yet and practically no corn planted. For several weeks now we have been in a cycle of unsettled weather conditions in which we will have a few dry and windy days followed by a few days of precipitation. To date, we have not had a period of time in which it has been dry enough to get any corn planted. It has also been unseasonably cool all spring. The farmers in our area are growing impatient and concerned about the wet conditions and their inability to get into the fields. However, I remember mentioning in my last article that we would soon be talking about the planting season, and here we are in the middle of May, 2008!
As this summer approaches, I see a hectic one in store for me. During the course of this article I want to share a little information about some upcoming events in my summer schedule, but first I want to share an interesting cornhusking story with you. Shortly after our return from the National contest last fall, I received an interesting e-mail from a woman asking if her fatherís National championship load of corn still held the record as the largest ever husked. The womanís name was Joyce Baskovic and her father was Irvin Bauman, the 1940 National champ. Obviously, I was a little surprised about receiving an e-mail from a daughter of a pre-War National champ, and I quickly returned a message to her. In it I stated that his record still stood to this day. To date, when comparing pounds per minute husked, her father clearly has never been surpassed. In the 1940 National at Davenport, Iowa, Mr. Bauman husked 46.58 net bushels or 3260.9 net pounds of corn in eighty minutes. Our modern record was made in 1986 when Joe Anholt won the title with 921.6 net pounds. When you do the calculations, Irvin Bauman had husked at the rate of 40.76 pounds per minute while Joe Anholt had husked at the rate of 30.72 pounds per minute. So, when you strictly look at pounds of corn husked per minute, Irvin Bauman has never been surpassed in a National contest. However, I related to her that there were many contest husking variables in the post-War contests that prevented our modern huskers from getting a good run at a pounds per minute record. She knew that the contests times had been reduced from the eighty minute pre-War contests to the thirty minute Menís Open class. I further explained that differences in hybrid and open-polinated corn, different weather and field conditions from contest to contest, and higher seed populations planted in todayís era were some of the things that prevented a run at his record. I related to her Anholtís 1940 contest load as a example of the same contestant husking in pre- and post-War conditions. In the 1940 Greene County, Iowa contest, Joe Anholt shucked a few pounds over forty-five bushels, a county record at the time and probably still is to this day. His 1940 load was pretty close to the National loads picked at Davenport that same fall.
If you look at the 1940 National results, Mr. Bauman and Marion Link, the National runner-up, had very productive contests that day. Curious about Mr. Baumanís husking career, I did some research and found him to have an impressive contest record. In 1935 at his first Illinois state contest, the twenty-two year old Bauman finished first setting a new state record with 36.52 bushels. That same fall he became the National runner-up behind Elmer Carlson at the Indiana National. By 1938 he returned to the title position as Illinois champion followed later that fall as a repeat National runner-up behind Ted Balko at the Dell Rapids National. There the estimated crowd of 130,000 fans watched a host of excellent huskers battle in the bottomland field just northeast of town. Of course, in 1940 he retired from competitive husking after a runner-up finish in Illinois and winning the National title at Davenport. On page 156 in Battle of the Bangboards by Leonard Jacobs, you can see a fine photo of Irvin Bauman holding his trophy and prize money after his National win.
A phone conversation and e-mail correspondence with Mrs. Baskovic found her and husband Robert doing well and living in Galva, Illinois. Both of them are retired music teachers and are now enjoying a slower-paced life. She was so very good to answer my questions about her family, and she is rightly proud of her fatherís accomplishments. She related to me that her father was a physically strong farmer who stood six feet tall and weighed around two hundred pounds. He was a true competitor and always a very fair man in his dealings with others, especially at the contests. After his National win, Mr. Bauman was always humble about his title accomplishments and felt that his National win was reason enough to retire from competitive husking. With his prize money he and wife Hilda purchased a set of china and silverware which she still has in her possession. Along with the prize money, her father and mother, accompanied by his brother and wife, were awarded a trip to Washington D.C. All of the expenses were paid by the Firestone Company. When asked if her mother Hilda enjoyed the contests, Joyce replied that she attended many of the contests and enjoyed watching Mr. Bauman compete. She went on to say that her mother always remarked that her feet never got muddy at any of the contests. The spectators were so closely packed together that she could simply walk on top of all the feet and out of the mud! Her mother also stated that the restroom facilities for the women were usually fairly poor.
Near the end of our conversation, Mrs. Baskovic reported that her father passed away in 1972 at the age of fifty-nine. He had generally been free of any health problems until a heart attack suddenly claimed his life. In 1999 her mother also passed away leaving her and an older brother, Don, to continue the Bauman traditions. Before ending our conversation she related how her parents had always been friends with the Bill Rose family that also lived near Galva.
I hope that all of you will have a fine and productive summer. As I said earlier, this summer looks to be a busy one for me. Besides many farming activities to keep us busy, my family will be heading to Austin to attend my oldest daughterís wedding the third weekend of June. In July I will be participating in the MR 340, one of the longest marathon kayak races in North America. You can check out the race at rivermiles.com on the web. Until our reunion this fall, I wish you all Godís best!
Mitchel Burns, NCA Historian