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Tales of a Hay Hauler: The afternoon angel

Brad Nelson Published on 01 August 2011

It was hot. It was dusty. I was all sweaty, which made the grain dust stick to me all over. It was the most miserable day I could remember. It was sometime in the early 1950s and I was about 9 years old.

I was sitting inside Dad’s 1951 Ford F-6 truck, watching for Dad to signal that the grain bin on the combine was full.

When that happened, my job was to drive the truck to where he was in the field to transfer the grain from the combine to the truck.

Dad bought the truck just before we moved from Mink Creek, Idaho, to Parma, Idaho. I remember Dad talking about the negotiations for the truck.

He said another dealer wanted to sell him a Diamond “T” truck, a now-defunct brand. The dealer offered to line him up with a load of freight to haul toward home and pay his bus fare to the factory.

Then he would save the delivery cost and make some money on the way home, also.

Dad said that in the first place, he did not want a Diamond “T” truck. He did not want to ride a bus halfway across the country, and he certainly did not want to drive a truck home from halfway across the country. The Ford served us well.

Dad hauled peaches to Idaho Falls one year with the trusty Ford. I always thought the Ford was ill-equipped to haul very far on the road because it only had the six-cylinder engine instead of the V-8.

I found out later that Ford made at least two six-cylinder engines in that time frame, a small one for cars and pickups and a larger engine for trucks.

Dad’s truck had the larger six, which was larger and more powerful than the 239 cubic-inch flathead V-8.

On later trips, Dad would point out to us the underpass in Mountain Home, Idaho, where he realized he had been asleep at the wheel for an instant. He counted it as a blessing that he made it home safe that trip.

One trip on the move from southeastern Idaho to Parma in the southwest had some unwanted excitement. I was riding with Dad and my Uncle Reed in the truck.

My mother and little sister were following in the good old airplane-nosed Studebaker car. Dad said Mom had been trying to find a place to pass the truck for some time, when a car travelling the other direction cut across the road right in front of the truck and went off the road to our right and rolled.

I remember Dad and Uncle Reed pulling the drunk driver out of the overturned car. Dad turned white when he realized that had Mom and Janeen been able to pass the truck, they would have been in position to be hit by the other car.

I was surprised at how small Dad’s tractor looked when it was loaded on the truck for the trip. The tractor was an SC model Case with the narrow steering tires on the front. The truck was packed leaving a space up the middle for the nose of the tractor. I remember thinking that the old SC was huge.

I don’t remember how many trips it took to get us moved. One trip, we had to find a tire store after dark because we had a flat on an inside dual that had ruined the tire. The last trip brought the milk cows. With those “girls” now at the new homestead, we were officially moved in.

I remember standing by the open door of the oil stove in our living room to get dressed as fast as I could on cold winter mornings on my way to school.

I had a chore coat that was a yellow-brown plaid. I remember Mom commenting on it being too big for me and not being able to afford a coat for me that fit.

I loved that coat. It was warm, and the sleeves were long enough that I could pick up a bucket of milk on the way to feed the calves without extending my hands out of the sleeves, thus keeping my hands warm.

One winter day they closed the Ten Davis School early. A winter storm was bringing snow and wind. I remember Dad meeting the school bus, and that the driver was afraid the old Chevy bus would get stuck if he tried to make it past our place to take Verna Jean Caldwell home.

Dad and I and Verna Jean got in the Studebaker and delivered her to her parents safe and sound. Dad, having been raised in the back country of southeast Idaho, always thought it comical that the flat-landers would close the roads with any little snowfall.

He remembered the “Model T” Fords with clothesline rope threaded through the spokes and over the tires ploughing through deep snowdrifts.

I misjudged a turn in the grain field one day. I dropped the right rear wheels of the Ford truck into a small ditch. It took the rest of the day to get it out.

It was over half-loaded with grain, and the tractor would not pull it out. We dug down and laid plank under the tires to make a ramp to get it out.

Dad wasn’t very happy that day. I later heard him say that the truck was a long-wheelbase truck, which takes more space to turn, and after all, I was only 9 years old. I took that as close enough to being forgiven.

When the truck was loaded with grain, we drove to Parma to unload, and most of the time we had to wait in line.

Dad would be visiting with other men, and I would get to start the truck and pull it up as the line moved. Dad was beside me one day when the truck ahead of us, also operated by a young person, pulled up and rattled the fire hydrant with her truck. Dad said, “I’m glad my kid is smarter than that!”

On the hot, dusty, miserable day I started with, I looked from the cab of the truck toward the house and saw someone walking toward me.

At first I couldn’t tell who it was, and as she got closer, I realized it was my mother. She brought a quart mason jar full of Kool-aid and ice cubes, and a handful of graham crackers with homemade frosting between them.

The day was still hot and long, and the cookies and punch wore out long before we left the field to milk the cows that afternoon.

That simple walk across the grain field that day with a cold drink and cookies is still in the top two or three of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for me. Thanks again, Mom.  FG