LOOK! THERE IN THE WEEDS!

By Staff
article image
Noel Nelson
Courtesy of Noel Nelson, Hawley, Minnesota 56549

5343 Tussic Rd., Westerville, Ohio 43081

Yea!, I looked and slammed on the brakes about jackknifin’
the long load of sawmill slabs on our flatbed trailer. Out in the
weeds behind the rundown barn and outbuildings there were wheels,
dim outlines in rusted iron and what looked to be the remains of an
old sawmill. We cranked around and pulled into the dry road which
went to weeds beyond the first car length. My two boys began
‘look for little iron wheels, Dad,’ ‘I need manure
spreader wheels for my tractor Dad’, ‘there’s a dump
rake’, ‘ are we goin’ to buy some more engines’,
etc., etc. . .

We approached the front porch which was overhung with long
unpruned Maples and vines – my sons now quiet and subdued by a
-‘Be cool’ – from me. There on the glassed and screened
front porch sat The Squire and his Lady shellin’ peas. We said
‘howdy’ and got right down to business. I’ve found in
my travels that a straight forward approach works best more often
than not. We allowed as how we were lookin’ for old iron manure
spreader wheels to advance a project now underway of buildin’ a
model old timey gas tractor usin’ a hit and miss engine. The
squire’s eyes twinkled and he grinned from ear to ear
sayin’ he had a pair of wheels he’d sell cheap and
what’s more we could step out back and survey these articles
right now. Hurryin’ to set down his lap full of peas, he led us
out back into an engine man’s paradise.

Now from the old gents remarks and sly looks at the outset I
became aware early in the game that he’d been to town a time or
two. As we approached the equipment in question I could see a gap
in the off rear wheel where time had told its story in rust and
ruin. Not withstanding this disadvantage he began to extol the
virtues and promise of these corroded specimens. I allowed as how
they just wouldn’t do for our project and asked where’d he
get all them telephone insulators I was standin’ on there in
the weeds? He said he’d got them years ago when the lines back
of his place was pulled down.

1934 W-12 McCormick Deering owned by Earl Olson, Hawley,
Minnesota 56549.

He came right on with ‘I get fifteen dollars a hundred for
them from an antique feller.’ My heart sank wondering what else
this ‘antique feller’ had absorbed into his clammy clutches
while here. Sure enough he answered ‘No, I give away my last
gas engine years ago’. ‘I’ve got an old steam engine
governor around here somewhere or other I used to use on a model T
engine that run the sawmill.’ As we moved off in search of the
governor was passed a shed where in resided two identical Avery
tractors of the 1940 plus vintage with a yarn all their own about
rebuilt engines and their apparent worth. They had both been
purchased from a Junk yard and done lots of work there on the farm
for him. The old and broken pieces of yesteryears’ agricultural
equipment and the old gent’s eye glasses demonstrated his past
and present mechanical ability. His spectacles were the ancient
horn rim type with one bow missing and replaced with a piece of
string which was one end tied to the frame and the other to his
left ear. By doggies! It worked well enough that he could see to
offer for sale nearly everything imaginable but the elusive steam
governor. There was an old one horse sleigh tied to the rafters
that he and his misses had went to get their license in sixty-four
years ago on a day when the thermometer read below zero. He said
they was young then and didn’t know no better and just a lap
robe with a lantern under it had  kept them warm and happy.
There were good binder canvases and corn jobbers, maple syrup
buckets and corn shellers, Model T tires and flat belts galore,
and! there in the corner two small trucks with WHOOPEE!! iron
wheels.

Bein’ so casual that I thought my youngest son would faint
from tryin’ to ‘be cool’ I sidled up to one of them and
inquired as to its use and function. The squire swelled up and gave
forth with the information that he’d been on the verge of a
project himself wherein the application of iron wheels and such was
a must even to include both of the trucks. Heck! I said to myself,
you’ve about met your match this day, so I layed it right out
for inspection and said as I knowed a feller that could use them
wheels and he’d pay five or six dollars cash. With a pained
look the old gent vowed he couldn’t take a cent less than ten
for the one and couldn’t bear to part with the other as he had
need of it for something or other that he couldn’t at the
moment recollect. Well, I cross offered seven dollars and was flat
refused and commenced my ‘walkin’ off act’. In the
process of walkin off I stumbled over an old glass reservoir for a
coal oil kitchen stove that had layed out in the sun so long it had
turned beautifully amethyst-colored and bought it for a quarter. In
another thicket there were two ten inch belt pulleys that were sold
to me for ‘iron wheels’ (when I got home I found the old
Case eagle on the world emblem on a spoke of each, Ha!). We crossed
out of the barn lot into the dry road through the garage-shop shed
and glanced at such things as corn planters and mowin’ machines
and home made mechanical curiosities such as a wood-made riggin for
the trip firin’ of six shotgun shell blanks toward off
‘young un’ that sneak-fished and swam back in his pond and
stole his fish and such. Although everything seemed to have been
here a long time the squire seemed about ready to do lots of things
in the repair line.

About this time it come to me that it was about time we left so
as not to wear out our welcome. When I payed him for the wheels and
such he made change out of a poke that would done well to burn a
wet mule givin’ credance to the earlier thought about him
havin’ been to town before. We passed a few theories about the
weather and such, shook hands and made off. WE were about fifteen
and a half rods up the road when the interrogation began –
‘Dad, why didn’t you buy the truck with the little iron
wheels? – Would those lime spreader wheels have done for the gas
tractor? – where do you suppose the flyball governor was? -are we
goin’ back?

I might yet. — No. — I don’t know. – YOU BET AND SOON
!!!

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