One memory Edmund Steiner has makes it plain that he must be reaching the century mark. When he was a boy, his father got up early in the morning to prepare his steam engine tractor for a day of threshing. He hauled water from a pump on the farmyard, and filled the engine with coal. It took a while to get the engine fired up. It powered the threshing machine that winnowed bundles of wheat.
Steiner plowed with horses as a teen-ager and young farmer. After every two rounds in the field, he stopped and rested the horses. At noon, he fed and watered the horses before eating the noon meal.
Steiner married Mildred in 1939, and they had two daughters and two sons.
Dennis and his brother, Terry, farmed with their father until he gave it up around 2000, but they said he still hauled wheat to Lincolnville during harvest.
The “boys” said they argued with their father occasionally, but they worked well together.
They ran cows in a pasture north of Durham every summer. In good summers, some of the grass was baled for hay.
Rattlesnakes were common in those days. Sometimes snakes crawled into the windrows and were wrapped up in the bales. The Steiner boys thought they were bull snakes but someone informed them they were rattlesnakes. They learned to be careful when handling the bales to watch for any rattlers that might still be alive and could bite them.
Steiner said he once killed a rattler that had 11 rattles. He still has them to prove it. The men killed one or two rattlers every year while digging thistles.
One of Steiner’s favorite memories is the time he won $1,000 in a state trap shoot competition. It was enough to furnish his wife’s kitchen with new cabinets.
He was secretary of the local telephone line, coached youth sports teams, and served on the Lincolnville High School board of education.
He was active in St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen, where he served as master of ceremonies for events put on by the late Msgr. Arthur Tonne.
“Father Tonne once told me, ‘You are the best master of ceremonies in the whole Wichita diocese,’” he said.
He played the saxophone in bands for 41 years. He loved polka.
“Maybe that’s the secret of my long life,” he said.
“The hardest thing I ever faced was when our 23-year-old daughter Shirley was killed in Topeka,” he said.
The killer was never found.
His wife died 20 years ago.
Steiner has been a resident of Salem Home in Hillsboro for more than five years. His sons credit his care for his continued existence.
“They take good care of me,” he said.
He has his second pacemaker, and his eyesight is good, he said.
“If I couldn’t read, I would be in a bad way,” he said.
“I bring him a book every week,” Terry said.
Steiner said he is ready and willing for whatever comes his way from now on.
“Whatever is the will of God,” he said.
Dennis said if his father lives to March 17, he would be the only Pilsen man to have reached the age of 100.
The family is planning an open house for Steiner from 2 to 4 p.m. March 19 in Pilsen Community Center.