Grit Blogs > Close the Gate

Old Farm Truck Volume 2

A photo of Nancy KraayenhofAs you may recall, last time I began the tale of how we were moving an old truck to get at some things in storage …

When Doug cleared most of the spider webs away so I could get in the old beast of a truck without getting totally creeped out, he had rolled down the driver’s side window so I could hear him if he hollered, which he has been known to do since I flunked Farm Hand Signals 101 miserably. As I settled onto the yucky seat, I took a quick inventory of my immediate dusty surroundings.

I turned my attention to the driver’s door. The cranking knob to roll down the driver’s side window is missing but the handle is there so Doug managed to roll it down anyways with just a little extra effort, The chrome lever that both opens the door when pushed one way and locks it when pushed another is at an angle that is probably not quite right but is as shiny as if it were new yesterday.

It was then that I noticed the inside door panel itself; the same baby blue as the outside of the truck but the paint completely worn off down to bare metal along the bottom of the window ledge. I ran my hand along its sleek, smooth length. It was as soft as the expensive clothes made from micro-fiber silk fabric I can’t resist touching in some of the spendy-er stores.  I wondered just how many sleeves of exactly how many denim jackets had leaned an elbow out that cranked down window to wear the paint off in such a manner.

I recall my grandfather wore long sleeved blue chambray shirts all the time when he farmed. A fair skinned man of German decent, I cannot ever remember seeing him in anything but long sleeves except for a glimpse or two of him in his stark white t-shirt before donning his shirt to head out in the mornings.

How many chambray cloaked arms had hung out this very window to chat at the elevator, waiting to unload in a bumper-to-bumper line? How many heads rested on a bent elbow arm here while waiting to be summoned by the combine driver that he was full and ready to unload? How many times had the window been left down allowing a passing shower to wet the seat and help time and the sun rot away the fabric? How many a gloved hand had reached up and grabbed onto this very spot where the paint is missing to help hoist them up into this very truck?

How many loads of corn or wheat or beans had been loaded and unloaded in this very truck? How many mouths, human or livestock, were fed because of it? This truck had seen dry land farmed local corn yields go from 70 bushels per acre in 1965 to 190 plus in 2009.

To some it is a sort of junky looking 45-year-old grain truck and to others it is memories in the making. I would be willing to bet my husband can tell you when, where and how much he bought this truck for at whose auction and, most likely, the names of anyone who has ever driven it since he has owned it. There is value in that alone. It is priceless.

When you see something worn just so like the door of this farm truck I want you to think of how it got that way and the history involved. Touch it. Absorb it. Some things outlive their usefulness and some day this truck will, too. It is my wish that some day, at some sale on some farm somewhere, someone is able to run their hand along the top of this door where hundreds of arms have rested and say a little prayer for all who helped it get that way.

Safe in the shed this farm truck waits as the time to harvest draws ever near,
Rest your arm on the place with the worn away paint, I’ll close the gate, you steer.

nebraska dave
2/8/2011 7:39:52 PM

@Nancy, I too had a thoughtful history memory about a project I worked on. I replaced a stone wall in my front yard with more modern retaining wall blocks. While I working on this wall my thought strayed to wonder about who had built this wall back in 1965 and if they were still alive. What would they be doing if they were still alive. I really came close to burying a time capsule in the earth behind the wall and may still do that. It would contain pictures of the wall built and how and why it was built along with pictures of the old wall before it was replaced. All that for the next renovation person to be able to read about the history of the front yard retaining wall. It is fun to wonder about the history of things isn't it? Have a great day of history wondering.