Friday, November 11, 2016

Farmalls and Fishing Lures

I decided to write this today, on Veteran's Day, as a way to say thank you to all those who are currently serving, or have served in our Armed Forces. It's a reflection on the life of two men who meant the world to me, and influenced me in ways that I'm only now beginning to realize the depths of as I get older. Both of these men, my grandfathers, were veterans of World War II. They never talked much about their time in the service, but I do know both men were proud to have been able to serve our country in its time of need. Once again, to all the current members of our military, and to all those who have served in the past, you have my deepest respect and gratitude. Thank you for being willing to put your lives on the line to preserve the freedoms of our great nation.
- Joseph

As I sit here writing this on Veteran's Day, I can't help but feel immense gratitude to be able to live in the Untied States and for the freedoms that we enjoy. My love of the outdoors, and all the hunting and fishing that I spend my free time doing, would be impossible without the sacrifices of our veterans. I absolutely cannot find the words to say how thankful I am for all those who have put their lives on the line for our country. Thank you doesn't begin to be enough, but I hope that it is a start. With that in mind, I decided today to write a few words to reflect on the lives and influence of two men who were not only veterans of World War II, but also my grandfathers.

One of Pop's Tackle Boxes
I hope that you will indulge me in borrowing a little from a post I wrote a little over three years ago titled Pop's Lures. In that post I wrote about my maternal grandfather, "Pop", better known to everyone other than his grandchildren as Dick Hamrick. I talked about his love for fishing and how I used to bug him each and every day to go look through his tackle boxes and ask him to tell fishing stories. Pop's influence went deeper than just my love of fishing however. He was one of the gentlest, quietest men I've ever known. As a child, I don't think I ever remember him raising his voice or getting angry. He was as steady as a rock, and all of us grandchildren had no doubt that we were loved. His patience with a four year old who wanted to look at the same fishing lures day after day was an example that I only hope to be able to live up to.

Working the Garden
Both of my grandfathers loved to garden. My paternal grandfather, "Papaw", or Jim Hord to everyone else, raised beef cattle and a large garden every year. Pop had a small apple orchard, and also grew a vegetable garden. I think that its no coincidence that I became interested in agriculture and the FFA in high school, and went on to get my degree in Agricultural Education and become an agriculture teacher. My love for agriculture and farming began at a young age, walking with Pop through the orchard, helping both of them pick their gardens, and driving tractors and feeding cows with Papaw. Now I find myself almost unconsciously borrowing from both of their styles of gardening and even dress. Pop always wore wide brimmed hats while gardening, and Papaw was in overalls unless it was Sunday and he was going to church. The first time I found myself working in the garden with a pair of overalls on and a wide brimmed hat, I had to stop and laugh. I had never even thought about it at the time, but a more perfect example of the two of them combined would be hard to find.

The Farmall Cub
Papaw is the man that, along with my Dad, introduced me to hunting and to beef cattle. My earliest hunts were squirrel hunts with Dad, usually using Papaw's old single shot Remington .22 rifle. Papaw also had two Farmall tractors, along with an Allis Chalmers. I was driving all three of these tractors as soon as I was tall enough to work the clutch pedals. The old Farmall H and Allis Chalmers C are long gone, but I was lucky enough to inherit Papaw's Farmall Cub that he did most of his garden work with. The Cub sat in the barn at my Dad's house for years, not necessarily forgotten but not being used either. This past spring, a friend of mine and me got the old tractor running and brought it up to my house. Now that Farmall is back to plowing the garden, and once again I feel the intersection of my past as I use Papaw's old tractor to plow the garden in the same spot that Pop's garden used to be. My wife also claims she has never seen me smile quite as big as I did the first time that old tractor cranked after sitting for years.

I owe a debt of gratitude that I could never begin to repay to these two men, for what they meant to a younger version of me, and for their continuing influence that I feel even today. They have both long since passed on from this world, but I can't help but feel Papaw riding along when I drive that old Farmall, or sometimes when I'm hoeing the corn I'll look up and can almost see Pop standing at the end of the row. Thank you for indulging me in a look back into my own past, and once again thank you to all the veterans out there, and especially to two very special veterans who I love dearly and miss greatly. Papaw and Pop, I hope Heaven has good fishing and fertile farmland. Maybe someday we can all three drive a tractor or catch a bass together again.

- Joseph


  1. Great post,Joseph! Both of my grandfathers were WWII vets also. Truly men of a different generation and time. I often think that for all the tumult in the world today, it is nothing compared to what they lived through. Like the tractors too. My brother has a couple of old Case tractors he likes to mess about with.

    1. Thanks Bob! I agree, I can't imagine what they must have lived through. Those old tractors are fun to mess with. I hope the fishing is still good up your way!


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