Odd Couple

imageOdd Couple, Morris, Connecticut © Steven Willard

I have never seen either of these two tractors move. They have been sitting, silent, in this field, as if they were intended to be the start of a collection, or perhaps the owner just didn’t know what else to do with them.

The tractor on the left appears to be a John Deere from about 1935, and reminds me of the tractor Gordon Zufall rebuilt when he came back from a hitch in the Marine Corps. Gordon was the oldest son of the Zufalls. They lived near Trafalgar, Indiana, and it was to their farm my folks sent me when they needed a little quiet around the house.  This would have been about 1951-2, when I was five or six years old.

Gordon was a big farm boy with a farmer’s tan. He wore bib overalls that Enna, his mother, washed in a wringer washer and then ironed using a mangle, one of those old mechanical ironing machines like you used to see at commercial laundries. Why she ironed his overalls I never understood, but I guess it had something to do with pride. I remember the bibs because Gordon would hold me on his lap while we rode that tractor down the road to a turn-off for one of the fields they worked. No one thought of wearing a seat belt. At that time no one had even heard of one.

The Zufall’s youngest son, Nick was just a year or two older than me, and was sort of put in charge of looking after me. He already knew a lot about the operation of the farm, and it was from him that I learned about the milk seperator, how the cows were milked, and how not to loose my breakfast watching the elders castrate the pigs. We would play hide and seek in the hay loft, and if we were really good, we would get to take the old single shot .22 rifle out to shoot up tin cans. Today they would arrest somebody for that.

To this day I remember Enna’s Sunday dinners. Fried chicken I’d watched Enna kill and pluck, mashed potatoes from the garden with gravey, beets fresh and sweet, home made dinner rolls with butter made on the farm, and of course pie she had made from fruit I had helped pick. I can’t recall ever eating better.

I heard years later that the family was just about wiped out in a car accident, when Nick and Gordon were both killed, and the parents both seriously injured. I’m sure insurance was something they had never thought they needed, and without the sons to do the work around the farm, the only way I can imagine they survived was to sell the farm.

I guess I remembered of all this when I saw this tractor today because I just got back from a trip that took me through Indiana*, and those days as a kid on that farm are fresh on my mind. It’s funny how memory works like that.

*You can read about my trip back home here at http://www.stevenwillardreboot.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/home-again/

Olympus OMD-EM5 with 45mm f1.8 lens, processed on my iPad Air.


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