Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Putting Ice Cream and Tractors Into Perspective

Little did I know until this month that Wheaties debuted only seven years before I was born or that per capita annual consumption of ice cream peaked two years before I was born, at an astonishing 23 pounds per person.

I had always assumed Wheaties had been around forever and based on my family that per capita consumption of ice cream was still on a steep upward trajectory. I also remember the epiphany when I later learned that the Porsche marque I had admired from the day I first set eyes on a 356 Coupe when I was 10, only dated to the year of my birth, 1948.

Certain things, like Wheaties and ice cream just seem temporal.

Porsche, the designer and engineer, was probably tinkering with the prototype of the first car to bear his name in Gmund, Austria as my Dad traveled on a few days leave up into those Alps to clear his head skiing in the early winter of 1946 from his military post at Dachau which had been liberated just eight months prior.

That 356, of course, didn’t become my Porsche. I first owned a 912, same styling as the iconic 911 I would buy used in 1978 (when they were affordable) but with a VW engine. I rationalized the VW part because Porsche had also designed and built that make during a period during the 1930s when he also designed Grand Prix race cars for Auto Union, now known as Audi.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that Porsche also made tractors.

During my first decade of life, I was more into tractors than cars. At the time, I thought it was foolish that you couldn’t distinguish cars and trucks by their color like you could tractors. What a great concept!

At that age, I generally picked my favorites by color. My paternal grandfather’s bright red 1950 Farmall H was my favorite simply because of the color and not because it was manufactured from one of the huge J.P. Morgan trusts Teddy Roosevelt didn’t break up at the turn of that century. We always called it an International.

My maternal grandfather was a water master for the power company. He was almost always stationed out in the countryside next to some little dam where the water master was given occupancy of a house along with a barn and a little land as my grandfather was at Stewart Dam in the very southeastern corner of Idaho, not far from Dingle on the Bear River.00512_p_10aeuyf6sw0636_z

He had a mini-gray 1950 Ford 8N, which, according to Henry Ford, you weren’t allowed to call a tractor, that I liked because it was more my size and also because the secondary color was bright red.

I wasn’t much into green at the time so my Uncle Louis’ 1950 John Deere Model B wasn’t a favorite and the two-cylinder engine made a funny sound like it was choking. Come to think of it, it wasn’t that different than my Harley can sound if I don’t give it enough gas or start off in the wrong gear (click on the links to hear those sounds.)

I didn’t realize at the time that the predecessor to the John Deere was the Waterloo Boy tractor long abandoned in a grove of trees and brush on the ranch where vehicles were abandoned.

This vehicle graveyard was useful only for playing make-believe, especially a cool buckboard wagon and the remnants of an old steam threshing machine, my grandfather and one of his brothers been only the second to own in that Yellowstone-Teton nook of Idaho (click on the link to see one in action or the image of my grandfather’s shown above in this blog.)

It seems like Tea Partier candidate for the Republican primaries Representative Michele Bachmann would have been better advised to brag about her hometown being where Waterloo Boys were built rather than as the one time home of serial killer John Wayne Gacy whom she humorously confused with the famous actor, the late John Wayne, who was born 120 miles away in Winterset.

As he frequently did with very loud sport coats, my Dad always had exotic tastes when it came to tractors. They seem cool now but I was always a little embarrassed back then by his butter yellow and orange Case 411 tractor and his older green, yellow and orange 1954 Oliver Model 66.

Now that I think of it though, our closest neighbor with boys near my age had a very cool yellow 1949 Caterpillar which always seemed antique although it was a year younger than we were at the time. So I guess my chagrin wasn’t about the color yellow.

Dad was that way with cars too. He couldn’t stick with the very cool black 1949 Ford we had when I was very young. He had to get a two tone pea-soup-green DeSoto followed by a two-tone white and rust Rambler during my teenage years which I had to defend with another set of friends.

He wouldn’t let me learn to drive in the cool Jeep which I was to inherit after my grandmother “hand-painted” it red, of course. He made me truck back and forth through town in an ugly brown 1950 Chevy Coupe to learn to drive a stick-shift which would have been still bearable except it was a “three on the tree transmission.”

Only “four on the floor” was cool at the time. My Dad definitely never worried about “cool.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ugh...did u c this? same ole media bias against durham.