As a young wife, I found myself in the unique position of being the only person in the position to help my father-in-law during the day when he was building their home. We had moved our mobile home onto their land while we were getting our own land ready to live on. At that time, my father-in-law was leveling an area of land so that he could build the home he planned to build on it. His way of leveling the land was to have me drive the tractor…something I had never done before…while pulling a scoop, guided by him behind it. My first worry was that I would go too fast and end up dragging him behind the tractor. He reassured me that it would be ok, and I knew he needed me to be there for him, so with a pain in the pit of my stomach, I set out. There were a few jerky movements, but in no time, I got the hang of it, and found that we worked well together. It was an experience that I will never forget…for a city girl, who had never driven a tractor, it was…well, amazing!
As I was scanning pictures from my Uncle Bill’s lifelong accounting of our family history, I came across something that made my experience look like learning to ride a bicycle. My Great Aunt Bertha, my Grandpa Spencer’s sister, was raised by a family named Hoover. I don’t know all the reasons behind that situation, but Uncle Bill simply states that she and her mother could not get along. The Hoover family used a steam tractor, and Great Aunt Bertha learned to operate them very well. Today, that might not seem like something so awfully special, but that was back in about 1910, and the girls didn’t do that kind of work much. Nevertheless, there were then, as there are now, people go beyond the normal expectations to do the extraordinary. Great Aunt Bertha was one of those people. She was well known for her ability to operate the steam tractor…so well known, in fact that in 1956, while attending an antique tractor and thresher show, one of the old timers, who knew Great Aunt Bertha, offered to let her take the steam tractor for one last spin.
He didn’t have to offer twice. Great Aunt Bertha jumped at the chance to drive that incredible machine one more time. She got on and drove it like she had never been away from the farm. I suppose that it is like a bicycle in that way. Once you have learned to operate it, you never really forget. So here was Great Aunt Bertha driving around on that old steam tractor again in the year 1956, at the age of 61 years. I would have loved to be there to see that. There were likely men there who would not have been able to run that machine, and here was this little old girl, driving it like she was born there. Amazing!!
My niece, Lindsay moved to Brookings, South Dakota about a year ago to go to graduate school. It is really hard not to see her as much as we used to, but thankfully, she keeps us updated on Facebook and by text. Part of her work there is actually teaching classes, and in the course of those duties, she has found that many of the professors and students ride around the campus on Mopeds. I’m sure the reasoning is mostly the gas savings. I just remember when Mopeds were just totally the Nerd Machine, so it just strikes me funny that my very cool niece, and also her very cool sister Kellie have had them. It’s funny how time changes the things that once were weird into something cool…or maybe it wasn’t time at all, but necessity. We all know that as gas prices go up, cuts have to be made, and at least this way it is fun too.
Whatever the case, Lindsay has wanted on for a very long time…probably since her sister had one. So as her birthday and the new school year approached, she decided it was time to go for it. I had no idea that she was interested in getting a Moped, so when her excited text and picture came to my phone, I was very surprised. Nevertheless, it totally looks like Lindsay, now that I think about it, and it doesn’t look nerdy at all.
It’s hard for me to imagine Lindsay teaching classes, although, like her cousins, Liz and Michelle, who are a teacher and a student teacher, I’m sure she does a very good job. She is a very outgoing person, and lots of fun to be around, so I’m sure her students really love her classes. I don’t think Lindsay has totally decided how she will use the Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion that she has, because there are so many fields that can take in. Still, whatever she chooses to do, I know that it will be totally suited to her, because Lindsay is such a social person, that she is comfortable in any setting. Today is Lindsay’s birthday!! Happy birthday Lindsay!! We love you!!
I have often wondered what it must have been like when the first automobiles were starting to make their way onto the scene. I think that both the people and the horses, or other animals used to pull wagons, must have just about freaked out. People had no idea that such things were possible back then. And the horses…well, after the noise scared the daylights out of them, they probably took off like rockets…maybe inspiring future inventions.
I think that the first thought on peoples’ minds would be to distrust this new fangled contraption. They would wonder if it was going to run away like horses sometimes did, only there would be no reasoning with it or pulling on the reigns to stop it. Or, would it blow up…after all, it was a machine. Or, could it be dangerous…going out of control or rolling over. Maybe they thought all these things, but it’s quite possible that they simply thought that this new fangled machine was an unnecessary luxury…a waste of money…or maybe just for the rich people, who always seemed to be too extravagant anyway. People were used to being conservative with their supplies and their money.
Change is often a difficult thing to accept, and I can imagine that people like my great grandparents were pretty unsure of some of the new inventions that were showing up. They were used to their old ways, and it just seemed very extravigant to buy into these new things. Yes, change is hard to accept, but once we get used to it, many inventions turn out to be not only good things, but in many ways, such as with the automobile, they are destined to become something so necessary to life in this world, that it would be difficult to live without them.
I like to think that my grandparents were among those who accepted change easily. I see them as people who had open minds, and who saw change for what it was…necessary. I like to think of them as the kind of people who wanted to be living in the present, with all it had to offer. Still, I have to wonder what they might think of some of the new fangled contraptions we have today, such as the cell phone, lap top, Kindle, iPhone, and iPad. If you suddenly put those things into the mid-1800’s…wouldn’t that just blow your mind.