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Bart's Reward

~photo by Papa Bear~
 
My name's Bart.  That's me sitting up there on the platform.  Mr. Ader named me after his plow horse, he bought me when the old horse died.  He said he needed to be keepin' up with the times.  I guess he was so used to Bart's name by then that he figured it would be easier to keep on using it.  That's fine by me, I figured that it meant he was kinda  proud of  me, since everyone said he used to boast about all the work old Bart could do.  
 
I was something to see when Mr. Ader brought me home some sixty years ago, straight from the factory with a shiny coat of paint and brand new tires.  His wife came out of the house still wearing her apron to take a picture of Mr. Ader standing next to me, and a couple of his neighbors dropped by to take a look and check out my fancy electric starter and three point hitch.   "Top of the line" Mr. Ader had said proudly, his chest all puffed up and his thumbs hooked behind the straps of his bib overalls. There were amazed at how much power I had!
 
I proved my worth to Mr. Ader time and time again over the next thirty years as we planted and tended cotton fields together on his little farm here in west Texas.  In good years we were in high cotton, and I loved pulling that wagon for the cotton pickers to fill.  There were some hard years too, when we lost the biggest part of it to drought, or grasshoppers or hailstorms.  Those times I could see the worry in Mr. Ader's face, but he had a powerful lot of faith in The Almighty and always said that God was gonna make it up to us the next year, and usually He did.  
 
About the time I was getting old and had been repaired, mended, and wired back together about as many times as tractor could be, Mr. Ader was getting well along in years too.  He decided it was time to give up farming and retire. That was the last time I was ever put to use.  It was a sad day for all of us when he and Mrs. Ader moved to a little house in town.  I saw a tear roll down his cheek when he patted me before they drove away.  I know it was his way of thanking me for all the work I did, and I was glad that I had served him well.
 
 Mr. Ader's son moved into the farmhouse with his wife and their four kids.  He bought a bunch of fancy new equipment including a tractor that was huge compared to me.  It had an enclosed cab, and I heard it even had a radio and cool air.  Wow!  Mr. Ader wouldn't have known what to make of all those fancy gadgets and gauges!
 
I  was parked behind the barn along with old implements I used to pull, and I sat there for the next several years slowly rusting away.  Then one day old Mr. Ader showed up with a big tractor trailer and said he was gonna take me someplace real special.  I couldn't wait to see what he had in mind.  We drove down the road to the little town where he was living, and he pulled up at a little park on the edge of town.  I was surprised to see a big crane waiting for us next to a steel tower like the kind they use for water tanks.  Mr. Ader supervised as they fastened chains around me and that crane lifted me high into the air like I was light as a feather.  It swung me over and set me down gently on the platform of that tower, then they removed the chains. 
 
I heard Mr. Ader telling the folks that had gathered to watch what was happening, that I was a symbol of the early farming in this part of the country, and that he never would have made it on the farm if it hadn't been for me.  He wanted people who drove by or came to the park to play, to remember this part of our west Texas history, and that's why he put me in a place of honor way up high.  He said it was my reward for all those years of working so hard.
 
I really like sittin' way up here... I can watch the sunrises and the sunsets, and they're pretty amazing here in west Texas!  I can see a lot of what's happening around town too.  Mr. Ader drops by every now and then and sits on the park bench down below.  It feels good, just like the old days when we were together on the farm.  You know, this retirement thing has turned out pretty good for both of us after all.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 
This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are retire and reward.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

22 comments:

  1. As a former Illinois farm girl, I can really appreciate the symbolism for things of the past, especially after visiting my brother on the farm recently.....OMG those huge machines!

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    1. Hi Linda! Welcome to my blog! I was raised in farm country in the Midwest. Farming as we knew it then scarcely resembles the business of farming today, but the love of the land and raising crops and critters remains. I love reminders of the old ways, nostalgia I suppose!

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  2. What a great story! We all need to remember our pasts to enjoy our presents!

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    1. Thank you Brenda! Being a descendent of Dakota pioneers, the past is very real to me in the form of what I know of my parents and Grandmother's lives. I wish I had known to ask more! It was their determination and survivor spirit that I carry in my own genes and have passed on to my children.

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  3. A fitting end for a hard worker!

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    1. Agreed Mimi, we all should be treated with such admiration and respect when we grow old and no longer function as we once did!

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  4. Thats how I want to retire... in high esteem....in more ways than one... What a cool photo!

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    1. Amen, Zoe... wouldn't it be a great way to go out in style! Papa Bear and I were out driving one evening in a very small town, now nearly a ghost town, not far from ours. We went past the little park just as the sun was setting and his photographer's eye immediately saw a beautiful picture just waiting to be captured. It was his suggestion that I write a story for it! By the Way, Mr. Ader was his grandfather's name. He was also an old-time farmer, so I thought it was the perfect one to use!

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  5. Interesting perspective. Often we do give personalities to inanimate objects that we count on, such as cars and machinery. Good story in its creativity and reflection.

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    1. Thank you Annie! This is one of my few attempts at giving voice, thought, and personality to an inanimate object, and I have to say that it was fun to write! I have many happy memories of times spent at the farms of my grandmother, cousins, and friends while growing up. Farms and farmers hold a special place in my heart, I hope this story does them justice.

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  6. As a country girl who used to drive the John Deere during the haying --- I LOVED this. I still remember an old Massey Ferguson that grandpa had that we used to play on.

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    1. Most of my friends while growing up were farm kids, Rory... in fact my father owned and managed a John Deere dealership, so our lives were intimately connected to the ups and downs of farming. I remember when those first huge tractors began to appear in the showroom. Dad would take us down to the shop on Sundays and let us climb and play on them while he did a little work. And of course today's tractors are many times larger than those, and fully computerized. I remember how he loved looking at the early old-time tractors in farm shows, museums and such... the history of how Americans are fed!

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  7. Many years ago I worked in country South Australia and many old tractor remained on properties keeping watch. Perhaps not in such a grand position, but like your hero remaining overseeing the property in their retirement that they had worked for so many years. There is always something quite poignant about humanizing our mechanical workmates in the way you have done so beautifully here.

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    1. Thank you Old Egg! Farms and the history of farming are close to my heart. Inventions such as the tractor, from it's most primitive beginnings to the technology wonders we see now, have made all the difference in agriculture and what it means to be a farmer.

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  8. What a wonderful story, Josie. I retired last year. I wish someone would put me on top of a tower to symbolize something - anything.

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    1. Thank you Val! I think everyone who successfully navigates the working world and reaches retirement should be elevated to the position of SURVIVOR and given the appropriate status and pedestal from which to be recognized! :-)

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  9. This is a beautiful story, Josie.
    When I first saw the photo, I wondered what on earth the tractor was doing at the top of the tower, but I now know why it is there.

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    1. Thank you Romi! It Is not where one usually finds old tractors in their retirement years! :-)

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  10. What a great photo and great story - I loved it!!!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! It was fun seeing it silhouetted against the sunset like that, making it appear so classic and refined. In the sunlight it is of course a bit rusty, but then so are old folks like me!

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  11. what a lovely story- farmers work so hard to provide what a lot of people take for granted. Support your local farmer so we keep our food local.

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    1. Thank you Kathe, I agree! I know first hand how hard farmers work to raise the things that feed us, it can be a very rewarding way of life, but also often heartbreaking in bad years. It is harder and harder for small family farms to survive in our world of corporate giants.

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