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Harvey and Allis

I wanted to tell the about our Halloween this year.

As a new daddy, quite a few years ago, I became concerned that the world that we lived in was not the same as the one I grew up in. I didn't feel safe about letting my kids go out and roam the neighborhood knocking on doors and, in a sense, begging for candy. Heck, I spend 364 days of the year telling them not to accept candy from a stranger and then one day encouraging them to do so. Anyway, the result was that we wanted to have an alternative for our kids and for that matter, the kids around us. Sso. . . we started having a 'Fall Family Fun Fest' at our church. It kind of reminds me of the school carnivals I used to go to in elementary school. Fish-pond, bean-bag toss, pie-throw, clown, hot-dogs, cotton candy, etc. Well, each year we try to add something new and different. This year we added a hay-ride. Our church is in the middle of upper-middle class suburbia so many of these kids had never been near a tractor of any kind.

Earlier this year I bought a 1941 Allis-Chalmers tractor and volunteered to drive it and a small wagon loaded with hay for the kids. Since this, the whole festival, was kind of my idea, I really couldn't spend all my time driving the tractor. I was needed in 20 different places all at once. About the time this delimma came to mind, an older gentleman in our church came up to me and said that he'd volunteer to do anything we needed him to do. Now Harvey is faithfully at the front door every Sunday greeting people and making them feel welcome. He is the kind that always is serving but always in a very unassuming manner. Knowing that he grew up on a farm, I asked him if he would be willing to drive the old Allis around with the children. It is the first time I have ever seen Harvey get almost giddy. I saw years melt from him as he climbed aboard the old tractor. The end result, for over two hours, this man of 70+ years was the biggest kid on the hay-ride. There was a steady stream of children (and some parents) waiting to get their turn on the hay-ride around the church property.

You know, money was tight this summer because of the addition of the tractor. The Fall Festival was costly, time consuming and labor intensive. The hours it took to set up and tear down and cook and serve and set up and get pies thrown at me, etc. . . at times, I wondered if it was worth all the trouble and hassle. Even that night as we were making the final preparations I was wondering if I was silly trying to do something like this for kids I didn't even know. Was it worth all the trouble? Yep. It was all captured in the moment of watching the smiling children climb up on the hay wagon excited about taking their first hay-ride and mostly watching Harvey climb aboard the old Allis. . . and smile.

Scott Murphy, KS, entered 2000-11-01
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