Page 4 - MWC 02-04-2021s
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The Midwest Cattleman · February 4, 2021 · P4

                                         the county didn’t maintain it.  I
                                         think that was my first experi-
                                         ence with the word “bureaucra-
                                            As a result it became my job to
                                         help maintain that road.  My job,
                                         every spring or every time condi-
                                         tions allowed, was to ‘drag’ that
                                         road and smooth out ‘ruts’ with
                                         an old six-foot ‘road drag’.  At the
                                         age of nine or ten, I would fire up
                                         the old ‘R’ John Deere, hook it to
         I’m looking out the widow       the drag, push in the hand clutch
      this morning and I see it snowed   and drag that old road -usually
                                         all the way up to the top of the
      about an inch and a half. I also   hill.  Even though I haven’t seen
      heard they called off school.  It’s   one in 40 years I bet I can climb
      amazing how things change.         up on one today, start the ‘pony’
         Growing up in Montana in
      the 60’s there was one bad win-    starting engine and then start
                                         the diesel, just like I did when
      ter after another, foot after foot   I was nine.  Just for the record,  ‘trap’.  Once on the return trip,  ruts and then climb until it spun
      of snow, not inches, and school    that old drag is still sitting be- my dad and younger brother res- out and slid again.  It was a little
      was rarely  called off. My dad     side the road where I left it in  cued a Bald Eagle. It was never  bit like riding the ‘tilt -a-whirl’
      liked to say that he wore out a    1973.  You can see it if you drive  boring.                          at the fair.  There were turns,
      scoop shovel shoveling snow the    to the old place, or even on ‘Goo-   Those were the days before  jolts, jerks and then the UFO’s.
      first winter.  Nine of those win-  gle Earth’ right now if you know  anyone was fastened in a safe- That old pickup was basically a
      ters about wore him out as well.   where to look.                     ty belt and there surely were  gun shop, veterinary clinic, and
      The Road                           The Ride                           no  child  safety  seats.    After  a  mud closet  on wheels,  so any
         You may have heard me say                                          warm breakfast we would climb  or all of a whole assortment of
                                            In order for my brothers and
      that we lived at the end of what   I  to  get  to  school.  my  parents   into a cold pickup truck where  items might become airborne.
      was barely a road.  That made      would have to drive the 3 miles    the windshield still had a heavy  Flying  boxes of rifle  shells, sy-
      every  morning  and  every  trip   out of ‘the breaks’ and meet the   coating of ice.  Sometimes the  ringes, ropes, over-shoes, or a
      to school an exciting adventure.   bus at our mailbox. If we were     windshield was clear, but more  carton of cigarettes could come
      I guarantee you it would have      late  or if  the bus  was late,  our   often we would start the trip  flying at your head any moment.
      made for some really exciting      dad would have to take us the      with only a small opening in the  We got pretty  good at ducking
      ‘reality’ TV.                      rest of the way into town.         frosted glass.                    and catching things.  Like a roll-
         We had what was kind of a                                            The pickup would eventual- er-coaster, when it finally came
                                              It’s really  hard  to  explain
      catch-22 private road.  The coun-  what  those  trips  were  like.    ly warm up usually by the time  to a stop you were just glad to
      ty’s excuse for not maintaining    Sometimes we got to school and     we got to the ‘coal bank hill’.  It  get out.
      the road was that the bus didn’t   sometimes we didn’t.  Often, we    would be in four-wheel drive,        One of those mornings after
      go that far, and the school bus    would see deer, hunt coyotes, or   in  fact,  a pickup  might  stay  in  it had snowed and the wind had
      wouldn’t go that far because                                          four-wheel drive all winter.  If  blown all  night, we started  on
                                         ‘bag’ a cottontail for a Bobcat
                                                                                             there    wasn’t our trip to meet the school bus.
                                                                                             new snow, the  The bus was  either very  late
                                                                                             conditions  or very early. In any event we
                                                                                             could be deep  missed it.  As we started off for
                                                                                             snow,    drifted town, it became evident that the
                                                                                             snow,  blowing  north-south  road  was  not  only
                                                                                             snow,  melting  drifted shut but it was crusted
                                                                                             snow,    slushy as hard as a rock.  Not one for
                                                                                             snow, or snowy  quitting what he had started,
                                                                                             mud. Most of  my dad pulled out into a neigh-
                                                                                             the time there  bor’s frozen wheat field where
                                                                                             were     ‘ruts’... he found it much easier going.  I
                                                                                             ruts   in   the never will forget the snow blow-
                                                                                             snow, ruts in  ing up over the hood of the truck.
                                                                                             the mud, and of  It would have made one heck of
                                                                                             course…my  fa- a ‘truck  commercial’. That  was
                                                                                             vorite… ruts in  one of the few mornings school
                                                                                             the hard frozen  did close and as we pulled up in
                                                                                             ground!   After  the school yard it was evident
                                                                                             it all finally  that we were the only ones there.
                                                                                             dried out, what  Oh well... we made a memory!  I
                                                                                             was left was…  wouldn’t take anything for it.
                                                                                             deep, hard ruts   KwC
                                                                                             in the dirt road.
                                                                                                The    truck
                                                                                             would      spin,
                                                                                             slide, hit an old
                                                                                             set of frozen
      That old drag is still sitting beside the road where I left it in 1973. (This photo was taken in 2000.)
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