DROVE TRUCK HOME ALONE, ONCE

78

-By Orv Alveshere-

Five-Year-Old at Mid-America, at Mid-Century
A rural Dakota farmer bought a small John Deere combine;  
Paid a bundle of cash for that early functional design.
We ask you to think back to the mid ’40s, not here and now.
In those years, a combine didn’t set you back three hundred thou’!
Adults could step up one step and look into the grain hopper.
Our family gave it a nickname, the “Little Green Grasshopper.”
It mechanically combined the work of threshing crews to glean
The standing grain. It was small, six-feet-wide, and John Deere green.


Little Grunting Gray Ant
Two years before, Dad had purchased what tractor he could afford.
It was the small, but famous, 4-cylinder 2N Ford.      
Some people were perturbed and questioned and said, “You really can’t
Pull a combine, a pull-type combine, with a little gray ant!”
That mini-tractor just pulled and grunted and groaned and snorted.
Its little engine wasn’t blueprinted, balanced or ported.
It was man against his fields of amber grain in the sunshine,
Between the dew and the rain, using an early days combine.

Early Combine = Farewell to Threshing Machine and Crew
Combining did simplify that complicated threshing scene
Of five teams, a stationary machine and crew of thirteen.
With every sunrise, he checked the clouds, the moisture and the wind;
Needing to get his wheat, flax, barley and oats into the bin.
He would “coach” the wind, or breeze, asking it to blow chaff away;
As with every 180-degree turn, it would blow his way.
He’d space the wagon and ’28 I-H truck by design,
At each end of the field, so he could fill with grain from the combine.

Hauling Produce/Grain to Elevator in Town or Granary
He could drive the truck home to the yard, then walk back to the field.
His wife hauled that load of ag produce to town to sell the yield.
The harvest was going fine (though hot and dry) and troubles were few.
The truck was waiting in line for the drive-through and overdue.
He’s hoping for a sandwich. The sun had become burning hot.
Some cold, wet lemonade, or cold well-water, would hit the spot.
He’s NOT at the mercy of threshing schedules, waiting in line.
One performs what shockers and six-bundle pitchers did with his combine.

Can’t Drive Two Harvest Vehicles/Hatching a Plan
He was grateful for the sun, rain, wheat fields, land, cattle and grain.
Do consumers perceive the efforts at his end of the food chain?
Running over the hill, he sees his son who comes to share his seat
On the tractor (that’s the safe place).  He thought that event was neat.
Dad finished harvesting that field and he knows he’s out of luck.
He can’t drive the tractor and combine home and also drive the truck.
To work the harvest by himself, he signed on the dotted line,
Using ag production cash to buy that little green combine.

What do I Hear? A 1928 I-H Truck?
The harvest weather was very hot and dry, and it was late.
Who’s behind the truck steering wheel? Here’s my version, I’ll relate:
We’d completed the barn chores. We’d hay’d and oats’d and milked the cows.
Because other farm chores had to be accomplished anyhow.
Mother had made the evening meal, then she put the stove on low.
We’re occupied and unaware, toiling in the evening flow.
(That’s the daily talent show.) Akin to an assembly line?
Youths filled in where needed.  Dad spent more hours, pulling the combine.

Poultry in Motion? Squawk Talk Sounds an Alert
Out in the barnyard, there was a loud and squawking commotion.
That squawking was from thirty to forty poultry in motion.
In my opinion, it was all of those birds of a feather.
Those chickens hopped and flopped, and ran for cover altogether.
I heard a deafening roar! That truck throttle was purposely stuck.
It wasn’t a bull roar. It was that old, faded, one-ton truck.
Dad had put that old truck in gear so he could follow behind;
With the little gray ant and a little green grasshopper combine.

And What To My Wondering Eyes, I Behold
Dad had placed an illegal young driver behind the truck wheel,
Guiding the truck over the hill (with a smile not concealed).
With the old truck in super-low, he’d outrun him to the gate.
The speeding little gray ant, (that can’t), outran him, so he’d wait
To take over the steering wheel and drive the truck through the gate.
Piloting the truck, with a boyish grin, standing ramrod straight,
Was an early day stand-up comic, with a smile so slick at 9
Roaring at two miles per hour. He was outrun by a combine.

Recording The Record: Five Years Old
Don’t try this unless you are professional.  They’ll “click” their tongues,
As “unsafe,” in practice, letting a child drive, who was so young!
At age 5, that may be a record or a shared record.
It won’t get an Academy Award with a youth on board.
For this writer, you must be willing to “pardon my puns.”
My eyes observed a 5-year-old farm boy, drove home alone, once!
Well, truthfully, he held the steering wheel and was on cloud nine.
And doing his part, on the family farm, helping Dad combine.



© Orv Alveshere