Monday, July 6, 2009

Tractors ... farming, plowing, pulling, rescuing

For a few years, when my husband and I were both doing graduate work at Purdue University in the early 1960's, we rented a little house out in the country.

That's where I met Jacky. I taught her little girl in the first grade at Montmorenci. Jacky introduced me to many others in the community, and we became good friends.

Like most others in that area, her husband was a farmer. I wrote fairly extensively about him here - well, in other posts, too, but this is the one I'd like you to read because it talks about how hard he worked and his massive body strength. There are a couple of funny parts in that post, as well.

[Btw, Jacky reminded me recently how reluctant Paul Joe had been to agree to go on the trip. He had never done anything like that before in his whole life. In fact, he had not even been out of the area much, I don't think, except to attend tractor pulls and such - very similar to the life style of many of the other farmers.]

That part of Indiana is flat, flat, flat. Not 'pancake flat' like the Gulf Coast, but flat. For miles, all you can see are acres and more acres of farmland and - every once in a while - a house with some grass, perhaps flowers and a few trees around it.

That's where our house was. It sat all by itself, altho not in the middle of farm acreage. The property behind and around us, which was extensive, had been purchased and was all set to be developed as a housing community (West Lafayette expanding outward). In fact, before we left Indiana in 1966, streets and utilities had already been put in place and a couple of new homes constructed.

Across the road were a farmer's fields. We were told they belonged to Marion Klutzke, of whom stories that approached the preposterous and then became legendary were often told. Many of the wilder stories centered around his tractors, their enormous size and power and what he could make them do.

We believed very few of them, actually. (My husband was, himself, a great storyteller and loved to manufacture 'almost believable' fiction.) However, we came to understand how some of those Paul Bunyan-type tales might have originated.

Where our house was situated - and to our right, as we were looking out our front door, the road was flat for perhaps a mile or so. To our immediate left was a creek, and the road dipped down several feet at that spot to accommodate the lower elevation.

Winters in Indiana are not normally horrendous in terms of annual snowfall or storms, but - every once in a while, we'd get several inches of the white stuff that would be just blowing and drifting like crazy. The road in front might seem perfectly clear, but anyone who lived in the area knew that you couldn't get across the creek to get to town (West Lafayette) unless you had somehow found a way to get your vehicle to 'spirit itself' across the six or seven drifted feet of snow.

The county plowed all roads, but it was up to the individual homeowners/renters to see to their own driveways. This was no small task for us. Our driveway extended at least 100 (200?) feet from the main road! Marion came to our rescue more than once, as I recall. He'd attach one of those big snow-plowing-type gizmos to the front of one of his tractors and bingo! We weren't the only ones to whom he extended his good neighbor service, either!!

Now, the story you're about to read is true. The only thing missing is the name of the 'victim' ... an "innocent" road traveler, who - upon seeing that the road was 'clear' for at least a mile ahead, pressed down on the accelerator and revved up all of the available hp in his engine. We were home - couldn't go anywhere and were listening intently as he continued to accelerate ... ... vroom! (1st gear) ... vroom! (2nd gear) ... vroom! (3rd gear and continuing to enjoy his own private speedway as the road ahead appeared to be smooth as silk). He was still accelerating when - all of a sudden - the sounds of his engine disappeared almost as quickly as they had begun.

That was the darndest thing! All those speedway-type noises, and then nothing!! Marion, of course, was the one who had to come to his rescue. I don't remember how he did it. Certainly, there would have been chains involved. And, even more certainly, there would have been very loud guffaws involved - some even lingering to this day, I'll betcha, and I'm here to attest to the fact that this is a true story!

Why am I writing about this? Well, Jacky sent me an e-mail earlier today titled "Wheatstock III". I thought, "Whaaat!?!"

[It seems that she was a little 'off' on her Roman numerology for this one, but we'll forgive her. It should have been "Wheatstock VII", according to the newspaper reports .]

Talk about blasts from the past! I have looked at all of the pictures included in that newspaper link, and - try as I might - I am not able to identify Marion from any of those! Too many years have gone by, I guess.

[Inserted several hours after original publication ... Jacky sent me another e-mail after she read this post, telling me to click on each little picture from the newspaper article and the person/s would be identified. Here's Marion ... ...

I didn't recognize any of the other names, not even David Klutzke. The Klutzke boy I knew was Randy.]

I remember driving to a 'tractor pull' once (and it might have been Jacky and I going there together) ... it would have been in Illnois, but that's not really the subject of this post ... what I remember is hot, dusty and boring.

Here, for a somewhat more glamorous side of 'tractor pulling', is ... ...


Tammy said...

"more glamorous side of tractor pulling"!

I'm with you, it looks kind of boring. I'll tell you what, though, I've thoroughly enjoyed myself at the demolition derby the past 2 years. I'd also like to go to a monster truck rally sometime. ;)

Goldenrod said...

But then, I think demolition derbies and monster truck rallies are boring, too! Very similar to tractor pulls, imo. :)

Jacky sent me an e-mail, Tammy, after she read the original post and I added a picture of what Marion Klutzke looks like today ... he WAS in some of those small photos I was squinting so hard at! He has to be approaching 80 - pretty good-looking for such an old coot, huh?