Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Farmers, Pickups and Cowboys

My first vehicle was a dark green 1947 Chevrolet pickup. Like typical farm trucks of the time it had wooden stake sides. Quite often there was a shovel sticking up from one front corner of the box and a broom from the other.  I only mention the stake sides because of the signage. It was summer break and my friend Margadant was doing a little work for us. He was the one that painted the words  The Berg Outfit  on both sides of the racks. I think he wanted to paint it on the doors, but that's where I drew the line.

I must digress here. The Old Man was theoretically a crop farmer, but his version of farming was to make a lot of decisions and then hire other people to do the actual work, the heavy lifting. He and his sidekicks, Big Don and Christy, drank coffee, drove around in pickups, played in their gravel pits (quarries), and figured out ways to buy more land with other people's money. PMA + OPM. Positive Mental Attitude plus Other People's Money. He was pretty good at it and eventually went into the land thing full time. Margadant and I were just a couple of the heavy lifters. The issue with the Old Man was that in our agrarian community hard physical labor was highly valued; it was more Christian than the Old Man's version of work. If you didn't sweat, you were probably a crook. One of Margadant's family friends asked him what he was doing for work. When he told her, she sort of sneered, "Oh! you're part of that  Berg outfit!"  Well, he liked being part of the Berg Outfit, so he painted it on our old truck as advertising.

Yesterday  I drove the 1999 Ford Ranger, a dusty bronze step-side with the off-road package, down to the dealer and picked up the Honda. The Honda seems to be a fine machine, certainly more sophisticated than the Ranger, but it isn't the same. It's been a long time since I have been truckless, and as an old farm kid, I feel less a man without one. In an old James Garner movie, Jack Elam says, "First I lost my saddle, then I lost my gun. Eventually I lost my horse, but I'm sober now".  It's morning and I'm a cowboy without a horse.

5 comments:

reverend dick said...

I love the wording and the sentiment...but you got lots of horses. Climb on one and ride it!

Gunnar Berg said...

The roads are snow compacted and it was -7 this morning. Them old horses wouldn't leave the barn, no matter how hard I pulled on the reins. 25 degrees with minimal wind seems to be their cutoff.

Margadant said...

I couldn't have done it. Lorna would have had to have taken the truck down to the dealer. A few years back I went without a pickup for about 3 years -- climbing back into one again was so liberating, so comforting. It was so
emasculating to be dependent on somebody else to do dump runs and haul plywood. I'll never be without one again.

Gunnar Berg said...

I remember the "camper" on your old blue truck:
1.Back up to a tree.
2.Tie a rope from the back of the box to the tree.
3. Throw an old canvas tarp over the rope.
4. Tie down the corners of the tarp.
5. Climb up in the bed of the truck and go to sleep.

People make it so complicated.

Mimbres Man said...

That's like shooting your dog.