Friday, September 25, 2015

Without a Clue

by John Mickman

When we were little kids, my dad purchased a number of large parcels of land on which to grow Christmas Trees. In hindsight, it wasn't for the money, he did it so us boys would have work to do - with him. We had a great time and learned to love what we did - together.

Early one fine Sunday morning back in 1962 when I was 12, dad told my brother Mark and me to drive our small Massey Ferguson tractor from one farm to the other. I couldn't believe my ears; we were going to get to drive all the way to the other farm, about 10 miles, all by ourselves! And because I was the oldest brother, so I knew I'd get to drive the whole way...

Well, the battered old tractor had no muffler, no lights or signals. In addition, the whole idea was to get the disc implement, which was wider than the tractor by about 4 feet on each side, to the other farm. Although there were a lot of turns, Mark and I both knew how to get where we were going, and away we went. I drove while my brother stood on the clutch platform and leaned against the starboard fender.

We had to yell to hear each other over the din of the un-muffled engine and the clanking of the old tractor as we bounced along down the road. We were laughing and giggling the whole way and everything was going great. Some of the farm dogs along the way chased the tractor, barking all the while; about what, we didn't know. The sun was shining on our young bronzed faces and we were in charge; life was good.

Then, a mile or so before we arrived at the other farm, I looked back at the disc (which stuck out 4 feet!) as we passed by someone's mailbox that was kinda close to the road. At the last second, I jerked the tractor to the left and the disc barely missed the mailbox. Whew! Mark saw it too, and we looked at each other with a sigh of relief. After the abrupt turn, we were OK, but I was thinking about all the other mailboxes we had passed over the course of the past 9 miles. Mark was thinking the same thing, and we whispered to each other about the possible horror of it all several times during the rest of the day.

When it was finally time to go home, we piled into dad's old brown '59 Chevrolet Apache Panel Truck and headed back the same way as we had come that morning. Mark and I were absolutely petrified to see many, many men along the route fixing their mailboxes. After a few miles, dad commented on what a coincidence it was that all those guys chose that particular day to fix-up their mailboxes. Mark and I looked at each other and were both too scared to say anything to him. Even to this day we never confessed to him that we had damaged those mailboxes.

After all these years, I still feel bad about it.

So, if you were one of the dads that had to fix-up your mailbox along Co. Rd. 5, near Isanti MN on a fine June Sunday afternoon back in 1962, I apologize. We didn't do it on purpose; we were just a couple of kids driving an old tractor up the road on a sunny day - without a clue.

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