Today, we would probably call it a push cart, a pull cart, a dolly, a portable truck, a portable lift, a one-wheel taxi, or that thing that you haul stuff around in, or something similar, but back in the day, it was a wheel barrow – a two-handle, tub-like container with one big wheel used for hauling and moving just about anything too small for a pickup truck and too large to tote in your hands.
Now, I don't recall that we had this particular hauling device, but my grandparents had one. For children, just about everything is something to play with. The wheel barrow is no exception. Whenever we got our hands on this contraption, whatever we had to do with it became more of a play thing than a work thing. We'd load its "stomach" up with whatever we had to transport. Then we'd push the "truck" this way and that way and every which a way. It's fun to turn it right and left and even to lift it up high, high, high to see if what's inside will eventually spill head-over-hills out onto the ground.
To lose what we were transporting wasn't the object of the "game," so we had to be careful not to lean it too far. Whenever we leaned the barrow right or left, it appeared to be a car making too sharp of a turn on one leg. Then, we'd straighten it up and go on to where we should have been at that time.
But make no mistake about it, the wheel barrow was, for us country youngsters, a wheeled toy. We used it as much for play as we did for work. The smaller children got free rides back from wherever we had dumped our haul or trash. By the time I used this transport, I was a way too large to sit in one. But my little brothers enjoyed being towed around like little princes by their pauper big sister.
I don't see wheel barrows anymore, but on occasions when I've traveled in the South, I've seen homeowners who are still living in their homesteader days of bygone years using the wheel barrow to grow flowers and plants in. They may also grow vegetables and fruits in them too.
Women of the past did not have the luxury of using work tools to beautify their yard. Nine times out of 10, in those lean bygone years, whatever an object was intended for, that's exactly what it was used for. So, on that note, I never saw a wheel barrow just sitting around with flowers growing in it.
I realize that when the wheel barrow became obsolete, by keeping it around, it is simply a neat way to hold onto old memories and at the same time make an antique object a useful part of the yard decor.
Wherever I see that big, tub-like hauler, and, of course, it is rare to see one today, but when I do see one, I'm immediately transported back to my childhood, wheel barrow-using years, and I love it.
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