Larry is a veteran.
I know this as a fact, because as I sat on the rough wooden plank that substituted for a bench, my grape nehi at my feet and the breeze blowly gently under that covered porch of an old general store, Larry sat down for a minute to rest and asked me if I was a nurse.
“No sir, no nurse here.”
Larry shrugged and started to remove his shoe and sock, showing me a bruised foot and a large lump on his leg. He told me about tripping on a step and kicking his leg, and how he was sorta worried about it now because it sure did hurt.
And even though I’m not a nurse, I recognized a painful bruise, but that lump was what would worry me….it looked like what I thought a blood clot would look like and told him so.
He said he was gonna get through the rest of the day at the Tractor show, wiping his brow with the handkerchief tucked in the small square pocket of his overalls. Larry looked out over the crowd, and I imagined him hurrying the day along, anxious to get off his feet and rest.
“I’ll go on to Charlotte to the VA on Monday if it don’t get no better. They have an x-ray machine there and I can find out what’s wrong. Do ya think it’s broke?”
“No, sir” I said, “but I think they should check it out, especially that lump on your calf.”
Larry laughed, because that lump didn’t worry him at all.
These were the kinds of people we met on Saturday at the Tractor show….hard working farmers, and country folk with worn overalls, boots and leathery skin beneath a denim work shirt or a t-shirt.
We met Scott, who turned a piece of steel into a key ring right before our eyes, hammering the red hot metal with arms that looked like the very steel he was molding. He was at ease in the 90 degree weather, calm and sure with the fire close by. He was generous with his talents and knowledge, showing us each step in the process, as if we could pick up the hammer and recreate what he so easily made.
Three year olds competed in the tractor pull, boys and girls alike, some wearing cowboy boots and camo, others in flip flops and shorts. When I heard the announcement of distances each competitor pulled, I looked in surprise to my husband, who was smiling. With distances like ‘7 feet, 3 inches’, I knew I had either not watched closely or the measuring they were doing was not something I was familiar with. But they were simply adding a little fun to the competition and glory to a three year olds ears….the ‘feet’ part was merely an add-on.
We watched the winners head to the booth to get their free ice cream cone certificate, 3 little boys in matching jeans, boots and cowboy hats, urging the smallest one on to the “Stairs of Victory”. His smile was wide when the lady in the booth asked for his drivers license because she was sure he was a professional driver.
Men with thick gloves handled logs larger than they were, stacking and turning to get the trunk in line with the saw blade, which was pulled with a steam engine, just like the old days. They thought nothing of the heat, the saw dust flying and the blade of a giant saw inches away. A young boy, probably 10 years old, stood by ready to clean up dropped bark and splinters of wood almost as big as he was.
There was music ~ 3 men under the shade from a porch of an old house, the flag flying proudly in front. A banjo and 2 guitar players, with bales of hay for seats and the occasional camp chair close by, tuned up and prepared to entertain the folk that stopped by after the tractor pulling races were over.
Ham and steak biscuits were on the menu, along with coconut pie, a chalk board propped against the edge of a covered shack with canned sodas sitting close by, ready to quench the thirst of the hot, sweaty crowd. Inside the general store, a long, lean cooler, full of bottled Nehi drinks, stood sturdy, as it has stood for years. The two concession trucks offered what every kid wants…sno cones, cotton candy, popcorn and funnel cakes. Sticky mouths and stickier hands were attached to little boys and girls and sometimes big boys and girls, too.
There was a field full of antique and new tractors, each with a tag attached, the owner’s name prominently displayed, with facts and figures listed. They weren’t for sale, but merely show, and you could tell a lot of them were ridden in off the field the day before.
My feet were dirty from the grass and field, but my soul was full. The people were friendly, kind, generous and happy. As quick to share a story as their seat, the writer in me listened with a hunger for a time that will be whisked away one day. My hopes are those 3 year old tractor pulling champs will still be hanging out in the field when they’re Larry’s age and have stories to tell their grandchildren about the time when…..
As always, I thank you for reading my words. I read every comment and appreciate your time so much! If this makes you smile, I would be very grateful if you’d share it for others to read, too.