I found a picture of Ol’ Blue, recently. Some of you may remember me telling the story of her before. If you haven’t, well here goes!
I started driving Blue, a 1980 Ford, when I was 4! Yes, four! My daddy would load hay in the back of ol’ blue and we would head out to feed cows. My mom was expecting my brother and didn’t go out to feed with us. Daddy would stick her in granny gear (1st gear) and stand me up in the seat, jump out and start throwing hay out to the cows as the truck inched along. Now I don’t remember the day I must’ve drove crooked, but I’ll NEVER forget the day I drove straight!
As daddy was getting out of the truck, he kept telling me to “drive straight.” As I approached a big water hole, I pondered his words and my 4 year old self reasoned that if he wanted me to drive around that water hole, he wouldn’t have pointed me in the direction of the wet spot and emphasized “drive straight.” So I didn’t go around it. When ask why, I said “but daddy, you said drive straight!” We walked home on a cold winter day and got the John Deere tractor and went and pulled her out.
Flash forward 10 years and I drove her all over the community, to church, grandmama’s house, checking cows and following the tractors between hay fields. (I got my first paycheck for driving a tractor at age 11.) Drivers Ed was only a technicality and the first time I ever drove an automatic... where was the clutch?!?
The air conditioner spit water at you (it felt good on a hot summer day) and operated with a light switch, the radio only worked with a wire running from under the steering wheel and wrapped around the radio dial. More than 1 pillow had been lost in the seat. The bed was held together with a cable, because too many loads of hay and fire wood were wearing it out. Daddy locked his keys in it one night and reached through the floor board and opened the door. A wheel took off in the opposite direction of the truck one time. Everyone teased I would drive her to school when I turned 16. I always said no way!
One day daddy called from Lone Star Steel and said to meet him when his swing shift was over with a truck and trailer. Ol’ Blue had died, just a few months before I turned 16. I was relieved I didn’t have to drive her to school... but dang, we lost a good farm truck that day!
As today is “Labor Day,” I’m reminded of our upbringing - this long weekend would have been a prime square baling weekend. Daddy usually would take vacation from work to work even harder in the hay fields and we would be out of school to drive tractors, rake hay, and pull hay wagons. There would be many loads that looked similar to this!
We were taught “work before play.” Take care of your responsibilities, before the rodeos, play days, and 4-H shows, etc. We worked hard, but we played hard too! Today I’m thankful for a family that taught us the value of hard work and responsibility!