On a hot, Tennessee summer day in the early 1970's, my Granddaddy and I had some work to do. Granddaddy had a small pasture with a few dozen bales of hay that needed to be moved to the barn. To accomplish this, he would use his trusty old Farmall Cub tractor. It was a late forties model, and by then was covered with rust, but it would start with a little coaxing.
Granddaddy had enlisted me to 'help' him haul some hay in the pasture that day. But, I was only a skinny, little five-year-old boy, so I wouldn't really be much help. Rather, I would just be along for the ride while Granddaddy muscled the bales of hay into the small trailer behind the ol' Cub. As I sat in his lap behind the steering wheel, he gave me the wheel and directed me in the right direction in the pasture. A smile grew on my face from ear to ear as I commanded this fine piece of farm machinery.
At first, Granddaddy pulled the trailer next to a bale of hay, and then he would jump off the tractor and load it onto the trailer. As soon as he realized this process was too slow, Granddaddy gained enough confidence in me to let me drive the tractor around the field slowly, while he walked along behind the tractor to load the hay. My task was to keep the tractor in a straight line following the bales of hay on the ground while the ol' Cub remained in first gear. After a few simple instructions, we were off.
Now, I was really in control of this 'big' tractor. Yes, to a little five-old boy, this little ol' Cub was grand indeed. My feet could not even reach the pedals, as I sat high above the ground. A sense of pride rushed in as I steered that ol' Cub around the field while wishing throngs of onlookers could see me handle this beast and cheer for me as I drove by.
While I was caught up in the moment, somehow the trailer had come off the hitch behind the tractor. I did not notice this mishap, as I was too focused on driving down the pasture just as Granddaddy had instructed me. Suddenly, to the sound of 'Whoa, whoa!' I looked back to see Granddaddy running after MY tractor and me. He managed to hop on the tractor while it was still in motion and take us back to the trailer. He did this with boisterous laughter, for he can find humor in just about anything.
When our work was finished, we parked the ol' Cub back under the shed behind Granddaddy's house, where it would wait faithfully for another job to do. Many times after that during my childhood, I would go sit on that ol' Cub under the shed and dream about another outing with Granddaddy.
That ol' Cub is not around any more, but thankfully, Granddaddy still is, which is far more important to me. But, that ol' Cub helped provide a memory that will I cherish forever. Call me sentimental, but nothing's much better than little boys, granddaddies, and old tractors.
John W. Beasley, CA, entered 2002-01-31
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