Steve & Barbara Bales Grand Marshal Buckeye Days 2020
Interview with Steve Bales Sr. and Lara Serbin
Steve: Well I’m a third generation native of Buckeye. My mother was Alberta Beloat Bales and her father was John Beloat and John Beloat’s father was Bob Beloat and they homesteaded here in Buckeye 1891 . But then since me, my sons and grandkids and great grandkids I guess its 6th generation now. I was raised here all my life in the Buckeye area. My Dad farmed here and we farmed with the Beloat Family, developed a farm in Rainbow Valley and farmed it for many years. We have our headquarters Bales Hay here on the original Beloat Road in Liberty, Arizona. We have a feed lot, feed cattle, my sons along with by grandsons run the farm. They bale and sell a lot of hay.
Lara: Did you grow up in this house here?
Steve: No. My Great Great Grandad built this house at the turn of the century around 1904. Grandad lived there a while and my mother was raised there a little bit. Other family members lived in the house but I never did. My Dad and my Grandad Bales came here and moved along Perryville Road and my Dad grew up there.
Lara: What do you think kept you here for so long?
Steve: I love the country. Feels like home. Growing up as a kid, there were dirt roads and mostly little dairies. Some farms had 10 cows and others had 30, 40 cows all together. Milk cows grazed out here and were brought in to milk. The ranchers always had ranch cows (beef cattle) grazing on this land too. They would set the tin cans of milk out and the milk truck would come along and pick them up. Not like the big tankers we have today. That gradually changed and we started to see cotton and alfalfa in this country in the 1940’s. Lots of the little dairies quit. These fields here now used to be fenced off every 40 acres. Sometimes two fences around it.
Grandad Beloat had grazing land in Rainbow Valley and he would bring his cows to the homestead on Beloat Road when the grade would get too dry in Rainbow Valley which is dry desert.
Lara: What is your hope for this area in the future?
Steve: I hope this keeps progressing the way it is. It’s doing real good. I know we have more traffic and people. Seems like more news that we don’t desire. Bad things happen but you look at all the good things and the good is way better than the bad. We see all construction that is north of us now along the freeway and they leave the farms alone somewhat. There is a wonderful irrigation system for Buckeye. North of us one mile we have the Roosevelt Irrigation System that is considered Buckeye. Here at the Bales Hay we are on Buckeye Water Conservation Drainage District BWCDD and we have super water delivery for the people, we have a lot of water and the farmers are happy, they have good crops. Back in the day we had a one row cotton picker, then we went to 2 rows, then 4 rows and now we have 6 row cotton pickers. It is the same with our tractors. We used to say if you did 15 acres a day you did good, now we can do 100 acres a day real easy. Progress is great! I hate to see the whole country covered with houses. I don’t think it will happen too quickly.
Buckeye City, I feel a little sorry for the downtown. Development has progressed north of them along the Interstate 10 but the downtown is still there. You got that wonderful City Hall and a lot of employees downtown. It will stay there. Finally it will grow. It will be a good town. It won’t shrink, it will get better.
Its all about hit-miss engines when you talk to Redd Stanberry, Bill Lanier and Donnie Gideon. What is a Hit-Miss-Engine and why are antique engines important to Buckeye? Redd Stanberry was born in a little ol’ town called Bovina which was the head quarters of the XIT or ten counties in Texas. The XIT Ranch was a super big rail head at one time. When the rail head moved from Kansas City, the next stop was Bovina, population 1,404 and one REDD. “I had the run of the place.” said Redd. Redd moved to Buckeye in 1964 and later started Arizona Gin Supply in 1973. From a little town like Buckeye, we build gins in Africa and China. “We tear’m down and re-build gins, put them in containers, send them to Long Beach and they get shipped all over the world” explained Redd. Donnie Gideon was mentioned in the previous segment.
Bill Lanier Jr. is originally from North Carolina and moved to unincorporated Maricopa County near Buckeye in the late 1970’s. Bill’s family lives and works along Citrus and Perryville where they operate a 2 and a half acre Dragonflye Farms raising miniature livestock. Bill has a total of 17 antique engines. In between working on the farm, Bill gives Redd and Donnie a hand.
Most engines were built between 1900-1925. People started getting electricity in the late 20’s and most rope pull 2 and 3 cylinder motors just went to the wayside. “Anytime we can save an antique engine now, it is like saving a piece of the past”, said Redd. The rural areas were the last to get electricity, farmers would belt up an engine to run whatever piece of equipment they needed to run, like corn grinder, water pump or a generator. Back in the day, you had one or two engines that would run everything via the belts. Today, everything has its own engine, from a weed eater to a chain saw. In the early 20’s, the tractors came out with a clutch pulley on the side of it. When the farmers got through farming at the end of the day, they could pull it up, put the belt on the clutch pulley and have a portable engine.
Redd Stanberry at Cafe 25:35 Buckeye, Arizona.
Redd has one of the bigger antique engine collections in Arizona. He remembers buying an engine from a guy who told him,”My grandfather bought this engine and I had to promise him I would never sell it. ‘Don’t ever sell that engine cause I am not sure this electricity is here to stay.’ ” Eventually he had electricity and they bought a electric motor to put on the milking machine and he said, “Back in the teens the electricity wasn’t that reliable so people hung onto the old ways for a while. Once they figured out they could buy a 5 horse power motor the size of a bowling ball and not have one the size of a coffee table, that changed their minds.”
At one time, Buckeye was just cotton fields everywhere! They used to pick all the cotton by hand at about 20 pounds per day. Thanks to Eli Whitney ,the cotton gin was invented the late 1700’s. Buckeye and Goodyear both grew cotton for Goodyear Tires. At one time, all tires were cotton cord instead of steel belts and there was a big cotton supply here. They had people coming from everywhere because it was all hand picked at the time. Goodyear Tire executives would visit the Wigwam to look at the cotton farms. When I asked why Buckeye doesn’t make anything with the cotton these days, why do we keep shipping it out? Redd said “There is nobody that spins cotton in the states anymore. Most of the mills are oversees. We just can’t compete with the Labor costs.”
Picking Cotton in Buckeye, Arizona
Buckeye Oktoberfest Engine Show
Bill Lanier Jr. will be bringing an actual mini cotton gin to the BuckeyeOktoberfest Engine Show. Bill says, “We will be ginning cotton with a replica 10 saw gin from the early 19 to the 20’s. Today’s modern gins have up to 204 saws!”
Why is this Engine Show important? “To show people what really happened in the past, we want to show people how we got to where we are now. There are lots of things we wouldn’t have today if we didn’t have those engines.”, replied Redd. Donnie added that television and social media have distorted history so much that kids have no idea what real history is anymore. Tom Trainer of Arizona Early Days Gas Engine & Tractor Association has been instrumental in organizing all the antique engine collectors to participate in the upcoming October 13th, 2018 Engine Show in Buckeye.