The utility of farm cars once included transporting feed and livestock and hiding love letters – Agweek

Dad and mom couldn’t worry about attendance when vehicles were involved. The reality is that they mostly bought second- and third-hand cars.

Four-door rigs were essentially dual-purpose. The back seat was removed when Dad was transporting calves purchased from the auction barn or transporting feed from the elevator. Despite complaints about the cattle messing up the back seat and causing a bad smell, Dad said he couldn’t afford the pickup.

Our first pickup truck—a blue Ford—arrived in the mid-1960s. It was cause for celebration that included the ranch’s nameplate on the driver’s door. The vehicle gained a small amount of fame after a neighbor borrowed it to take a full can of milk to the dump to highlight the low price.

Dad didn’t donate our milk because he couldn’t test the little milk.

By the time I graduated high school, each of my brothers had their own car. Often their cars were old and could be had for $25 and many for $50. I didn’t own a car until my oldest brother convinced me to sell him his 1962 Ford Galaxy 500.

It was a peach but with imperfections. Like other models of that era, it was badly rusted. Bondo, a polyester putty marketed by 3M since 1955, can handle that problem.

I also began paying attention to the JC Whitney catalog, which offered a raft of aftermarket auto parts and accessories that would transform Fords into masterpieces. The knowledge that I couldn’t afford chrome rims and other things didn’t dampen my excitement.

After the bondo dried, it was time to give the car a paint makeover. “Do you know what you’re doing” was the constant refrain as a gallon of Alice Chalmers oranges appeared in the shed.

Ford Galaxy looks like a giant pumpkin after painting. “It seemed like a good idea at the time” was the only reply available when friends and relatives joked about the car’s presence.

My brother once again came to my rescue when I needed him to pick up all the hog feed from the grain elevator to the house. He had owned a late Studebaker since the mid-1950s, a Scotsman. It sold when new for much less than other models and had what I thought were fancy bells and whistles.

The Pumpkin Car, as it was called, became a talking point when it hit the streets, but the attention died down not long after the engine died after the odometer cracked 100,000 miles. Long after Studebaker shared his fate, this pasture ended up in a graveyard.

I tried to remind my brother that his pickup was too good to let die, but he said it was a piece of junk and that I could repair it myself. I was sitting there thinking about the possibilities when I opened the door to the cubbyhole and found some letters his now wife had written to them when they were married.

Curiosity or perhaps Satan made it impossible not to read at least one. After putting it back in the cubbyhole, I felt embarrassed. Some secrets are best kept secret. Much later in life I wrote my own letters, and if preserved would be a source of embarrassment.

Writing the letter was both stressful and exciting, as a response would not come within a week or even longer. Writing was much better than telephone calls on the party line, during which parents, siblings, and neighbors could overhear.

Being a senior, I wrote a poem on the appointed date and gave it to him. No response was received, which was crushing. At a 25-year class reunion, she said she liked the poem but didn’t quite understand what I was trying to ask.

“Why didn’t you ask me?” she said.

I failed because of the KISS principle, which means “keep it simple, stupid.”

Machel Wilms is the retired managing editor of AgriNews. He lives in West Concord, Minnesota with his wife, Kathy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.