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

Mom and Dad couldn’t afford to worry about appearances when it came to cars. The reality meant that they often bought second-hand and third-hand cars.

Four-door fixtures were necessarily dual-purpose. The back seat was removed when dad was transporting calves bought from the auction barn or when feed was being transported from the elevator. Despite complaints that the cattle made a mess in the back seat and caused a bad smell, the father said he couldn’t afford to buy a pickup truck.

Our first truck—a blue Ford—arrived in the mid-1960s. It was cause for celebration that included the farm name badge on the driver’s door. The vehicle gained a little notoriety when a neighbor borrowed it to take full cans to a milk dump to highlight low prices.

Dad didn’t donate the milk to us because he could afford a smaller milk check.

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

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

I also began paying attention to the JC Whitney catalog, which offered a variety of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories that would transform the Ford into a masterpiece. Knowing I couldn’t afford the chrome belts and stuff didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

After the Bondo dried, it was time to give the car a paint change. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing” became a constant refrain as gallons of Allis Chalmers orange began to appear in the shed.

The Ford Galaxy resembled a giant pumpkin after the painting. “It seemed like a good idea at the time” was the only response available when friends and relatives mocked the car’s appearance.

My brother came to my rescue once again when I needed his pickup to feed all the pigs home from the grain elevator. He owned a mid to late 1950s Studebaker that was a Scotsman. It sold new for much less than other models and had its share of what I thought were fancy bells and whistles.

The pumpkin car, as it was previously called, became a talking point when it sped down the road, but the attention died down not long after the engine died after the odometer cracked 100,000 miles. He made his way to the Pasture Cemetery, and it wasn’t long before the Studebaker shared its fate.

I tried to convince my brother that his truck was too good to let die, but he said it was a piece of junk and I could fix it myself. I was sitting in it and thinking about the possibilities when I opened the door of the little hole and found some letters that his now wife had written to him when they were going out.

Curiosity or perhaps the devil made it impossible not to read at least one. After putting it back in the hole, I was embarrassed. Some secrets are best kept as secrets. Much later in life I wrote my letters, and if they were preserved they would be a source of embarrassment.

Writing the letters was stressful and exciting, considering that an answer would not come for a week or even longer. Writing was much better than a phone call on a party line, during which parents, siblings and neighbors could listen.

As a senior, I wrote a poem on a certain date and submitted it to her. No response was received, which was overwhelming. At a 25-year class reunion, she said she loved 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”.

Mychal Wilmes is the retired managing editor of Agri News. He lives in West Concord, Minnesota, with his wife, Kathy.

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