Did you ever have a red wagon? This was a gift to our son on a second or third birthday and a staple of his childhood. Though worn and rusted, this icon of all our pasts has many stories to tell.
It spent its early days pulling children up and down country roads on nature walks. Cats and dogs received rides around the yard, whether they wished it or not. The little red wagon saw adventure on beautiful spring days, and occasionally made it into the house on rainy days.
As my son grew, the wagon went on new adventures. Tricycles gave way to bicycles the little red wagon traded places as a means of transporting children to hauling. Securely tied to the handlebars with a piece of discarded baling twine the wagon accompanied
him about the drive on pretended safaris, reenactments of bygone pioneers, or landing on a distant planet. The wagon carried all the important equipment needed for an adventure. When he located the perfect hill for rolling down, the red wagon filled the bill. Rolling down, shrieking in joy, rumbling stop, then pulling it back up the hill for another swoosh. As my son grew, the red wagon
stopped playing and started working around the farm.
Instead of carrying children, following behind the bicycle, or rolling down the hill, now faded and a little rusty, the wagon worked. It carried fertilizer, potting soil, and buckets of paint, tools, and groceries. The wagon rumbled over frozen ground with logs for the stove. Again time changed and a wheel barrow took the wagon’s place.
The wagon faded more, the wheels froze from lack of use, and rust marred the handle. It sat idly by collecting, dust in the barn. Finally it moved to the front porch to hold flower pots in the summer, and set empty in the winter.
Life cycles and my son, now a man, had his own son. The little boy at two discovered the wagon one day. We removed pots, brushed away rust spots, and added some red paint to renew the seat and fixed the handle. The wheels sprayed with lubricant and a few adjustments returned the wagon to working shape. Now the wagon again serves for nature walks and hauling. The old wagon is now new again.