My dad could have told Walter I was a slow learner—he thought I was, and I bet Walter thought I was as well. Shortly after I had been introduced to the Allis-Chalmers, I got to watch him harvest grain and even help drive a couple of rounds. Every time I touched the controls, he’d say, “Oops, that’s too deep. Oops, that too shallow. Oops… oops… oops…” And I never got to try again, and I don’t think I even cared about pleasing him.
On the way out to the ranch, he explained as he drove along. “Now when you have a full load of wheat, you have to stop at the bottom of this hill here and put the truck in low gear and shift this other drive into first.” You know what? I didn’t believe him. It wasn’t that big of a gulley or that high of a hill. I could just speed up and chug right up to the top. And so, when Jack A. (the preacher) and Jack R. (the just graduated teacher) went alone to deliver the truck, it just happened that we were going toward another truck heading the other way on the one lane dirt and grass road, and as I sped down the gulley and upward on the hill, the engine began to chug, die, and then, start backwards down the hill as the other truck, a modern one, paused to laugh and then pass us on the emergency cattle guard to our right as we were going forward again. Somehow, when I kicked in the clutch and the motor started again, I stopped and very carefully did exactly as I had been told to do the first time, so we didn’t have to get out and crank.
However, as we arrived at the . . . what? . . . depository? Mill? Granary? Well, there were three trucks ahead of us on that steep hill, and the load had shifted somewhat so that the brake that came through a hole in the floor rubbed against the side of the hole and wouldn’t come up as I lifted my foot. I put the sole of my shoe against the side of the clutch to force it upward. Suddenly, it sprang upward and killed the motor. Jack A. the preacher, who was shorter but stronger than I, got out with the crank, and the men began to pour out of the tavern to watch us, and DID THEY EVER GET ROWDY!!!
He repeated the action with the same results two times—each time the drunken men got more delight out of it. I think they maybe knew Walter, after all he was the mayor of the town. So Jack and I got a plan—a serious plan. I would get the motor running and hold the pedal down, while Jack put down the crank and came to the driver’s door, still at the bottom of the hill while the other trucks were gone. When the men across the street pounded each other on the backs and hooted, Jack reached in and lifted the ‘stuck’ pedal with his fingers. Hooray!! It worked, and when he got in while I was razzing the motor, we slowly climbed the hill toward the scales. Unfortunately, my knowledge of those scales was severely limited, and the attendant told me I had missed the scales, and since we were the last truck, we should just drive around again and take another stab at it.
I just wish you could have heard those double hoots and hollers as we came out the other side and back around to try again. Jack and I were laughing as hard as they were. This time, we were able to dump the load, and we were still laughing heartily when we got home with the empty old truck and shared the details with Walter and Leona, neither of whom shed a tear of laughter or felt a single shred of humorous enjoyment. In fact, Walter was so embarrassed that the whole town now knew he had to crank his old truck that he hurried out and installed a fine ‘booster’ so no would have to amuse the locals who were chugging down at the tavern by testing their wits and their muscles ever, ever again.