The last of the old automobiles…

Well happy September to you. It sure came in with a chill around here as a storm turned the air from hot and muggy to crisp and dry overnight with a powerful storm that knocked out the power right as I was finishing my last freezy pop and the end of a chick flick.

Let me know how “Easy A” ends will ya?

Anyway, enough with the weather because I tell you, the dog days of summer are moving on out and shit is happening around here.

See I am not what you call a patient woman. Not at all. When I get an idea in my head this girl wants to see its pretty little face…like NOW! Which is the very reason I find myself in situations where I am waist deep in rhubarb jelly with not one canning jar in sight. It seems I am not much of a fan of the preparation phase. Idea phase? I’ve got plenty experience in that. Planning phase? Oh, I have plans. Finished product? Yes please.

Preparation? Well, I guess that’s why I married this guy. I mean, he looks like he can handle it.

Anyway, I know this about myself because I’ve had practice. And as our new plans are coming to fruition, I was reminded that it was at this time last year that we were finishing up a major remodeling project in order to get the first house we’ve ever owned out on the market. I was also reminded that we haven’t been leaving much space between major life decisions in the past five years of our marriage.

“Oh well!” says the impatient maiden to her noble and ever so patient husband.

“Onward!” (I envision the maiden with a whip).

So we ordered our new house last week. And I know we are technically just a little under schedule, but this maiden is jumping around in her stretchy pants singing some sort of rock version of a song she made up titled “Finally!”

Big. Sigh. Of. Relief.

followed by.

One. Thousand. Calls. To:  insurance lady, bank lady, electric lady, propane guy, dirt guy, basement guy, road guy,

and junk removal guy…

Yup. He’s one of our guys.

Because you know how on every farm or ranch there is an old car graveyard? You didn’t? Oh, well on every farm or ranch there is a place where old cars, pickups, tractors, augers and lawnmowers go to their semi-final resting place.

And I say semi-final because eventually, even if it is nearly sixty years later, some naive relative of the home place will want to build a house in that grave yard…and then, if they don’t want old car lawn ornaments, it is their responsibility to find them a forever home.

So in between frolicking, chasing cows, thinking about flooring, working, eating freezy pops and watching bad chick flicks, a made a few calls…

Turns out it’s not so easy finding someone to drive to the middle of nowhere to pick up old stuff you don’t want anymore. But I found someone. He’s coming on Monday.

And in the meantime we had to clear way for the road.

So out came the old red tractor, that, by some miracle has avoided the junk pile yet another year…and out came the nostalgia.

Goodbye old brown Dodge Ram. I remember when pops brought you home. I remember when you were our fancy pickup. I remember how I used to scream in frustration at your sticky gears as pops walked away from our red faced stick-shift driving lesson. I hated you then.

But loved you so when you took me to my first high school rodeo, the one where I rode pops’ ranch horse through the barrel pattern and then tied her up to the trailer only to find she got loose and was running down the highway. I remember when pops retired you to bale-loader pickup when he purchased his fancy blue and white Ford with the tiny back seat. I remember when he took the box off you, geared you up with a winch and took you off road to feed calves and go fencing. I left for college and you were running like a champ.

I came back and you were here.

Rest easy brother.

Goodbye replacement Dodge. In my life you never really did run very well. I remember watching as pops’ head popped up over the hill, walking home after you stranded him in the field. He was determined to get you running, but somehow the only way was to keep you revved, floored, and never stop.

Pops would get your motor started again by some act of God and take off over the bumps and clay buttes whooping and hollering with the windows rolled down, only to find that you failed to start the next morning. You brought him to such lows and such highs, but I see it didn’t end well for you. You will be taking your last trip up the hill tonight.

And you. The old International. You are from a different time.

I never heard your gears grind or your engine rev. I never saw the way  you could dump a load with a switch from inside the cab. I only knew you as a relic, a symbol of my great grandfather’s presence on this place, a load of wood waiting in your box, as if someone was sure to come back for you, to finish their work for the day and put you back in the shop. I find it hard to part with you, in fact, I haven’t quite decided if I will. It seems you’ve earned your place here. Maybe one day I’ll find someone to fix you up. Maybe one day you could run again?


Oh, and I guess I could talk here about pop’s first riding lawnmower and how he was so excited about it that he tried to mow the entire coulee in front of his house. I could tell you how funny he looked sitting on that thing in his cowboy hat among the grass that reached up over his head. No wonder that little machine died before its time. That will be leaving us too. Along with the old augers my cousins and I used to pretend were dinosaurs, the combines that acted as ships on a sea of clover, the car with wings…

But what really struck me that night as we hauled the last of the old automobiles, my grandparent’s old town car, up to the top of the hill to await their destiny was this:

Here we are taking little pieces of this place, the history and stories, up from the coulee where they might have sat until they rusted away and got lost in the grass and mangle of brush, up and out over the hill. Here we are making changes, making new roads, making decisions and promises to ourselves…making  room for our forever home…

I am not worried. I am not wondering what we are going to do next, where we’re going to be, how long this is going to last. I’m making plans, yes. But plans to stay, like those old cars, through blinding winters and scorching summers and clover and burdock that reach up to my ears. We will stay. Through rusty gears and chipped paint and plans that fail I will plan to stay.

Because it’s my semi-final resting place too.

I just hope I weather time as well as these old beasts…

15 thoughts on “The last of the old automobiles…

  1. Maybe you want to keep the license plates as a momento or two…those cars could be recycled and come as fence posts or even a shiney new car!! Rich

  2. There are people who would just about kill for that car with wings (and its parts – an intact windshield!) – as far away as Europe. That old pickup looks suspiciously like a restored one I saw in a Ralph Lauren catalogue a year or so ago… Those are not just scrap value.

  3. The license plate thing is a great idea! The shed’s walls around here are filled with license plates collected by my husband’s Grandfather. That and deer heads. It’s a sight, I tell ya. I bet you’re excited for this forever home! Have fun “planning”. Hope it goes smoothly for you; rarely does for me. Probably for the best. 🙂 I look forward to reading about your new changes.

    • There are license plates hanging on our old garage walls too from many years ago…and, you know, a few hundred deer antlers. It must be a rancher/farmer thing: ) We are pretty excited about the house plans…Should have a new house in by the beginning of December!

  4. How exciting to be moving forward with your plans! We have an auto graveyard on the farm, too, and as a girl, my cousins and I used to play in those old rusted out vehicles. They were great “props” for building imaginations, that’s for sure. And recently, nieces & nephews had their graduation photos taken near a few of the old relics.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your house as it comes to fruition 🙂 MJ

  5. what a wonderful start to your new ‘resting’ place! 🙂

    came over from katie’s place to say hello. what a wonderful life you are carving out for yourself here – amongst your heritage. 🙂

  6. yes i agree, try to keep the license plates, and yes see if you can sell them and yes it is a great start!!! oh my all these ladies before me are so smart!! haha

    Great post thank you for sharing

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