of claustrophobia and cots

Every time I run across this picture, I smile.
And then I wonder why I'm running on top of photo albums.
But mostly I smile.

Because if ever there were a picture of Americana or Midwest, "Iowa style" (to quote D.P. Scaer) agriculture, this is it. Seed corn hats, a dryer, a land yacht of a truck, brothers, tired smiles. It’s all here. You can even see a hint of the long hours, stiff backs, dirty fingernails, and corn dust in the air.

The year was 1985, and the one of the right is my dad. I love that his smile hasn't changed a bit, not even back then when he worked dawn to dusk, put away enough calories at dinner to make a health nut collapse, and still made time to play with my sisters and me before sitting down to read the Wall Street Journal.

I also love that that he made that time count, especially during the harvest season. Back then, Dad and Uncle Tom and the hired hands would take turns sleeping in a little glassed-in room next to the dryer to make sure that nothing started on fire or stopped working or broke in two. It was a tiny little room, barely wide enough for him to even get to the cot.

He showed that little bitty room to me once, and in my five-year-old wisdom, I said, “Whoa, Dad. I gotta get outta here. This rooms makes me clobberfostic.”

You know what it means to be clobberfostic, right?

It’s that feeling you get when there’s too many people on an elevator. Or you’re touring a cave and you suddenly realize it's very, very dark, and you feel like you can’t breathe. That’s being clobberfostic. 

Or claustrophobic, as you would say.  

Dad knew what I meant. He didn't whip out the dictionary to point out my mistake. He ran with it like I was right. Maybe it was because he liked that my little brain was trying for big words. Or maybe he was exhausted from being up half the night. Either way, he let me use my made-up word like the little adult I was trying to be.

{Then again, what he failed to tell me is that 28 years later, I'd still have a hard time remembering the correct pronunciation. But that is neither here nor there.}

But I don’t blame him. Look at that picture again. He’s half-turned, already moving to jump in the truck. He’s got a farm to run, and grunting pigs to feed, and dusty tractors to drive, and clumpy manure to haul, and hired hands to joke with.

He had sows who needed help giving birth to piglets, even in the middle of the night; pastures to mow; sweet corn to shuck; little girls to tickle; and a skinny, gorgeous wife to kiss. 

He was a busy guy in 1985, my dad. Maybe that's why I like this picture so much. It's a little snapshot, just a moment in his big, full life, and even if it makes me a little clobberfo . . . claustro . . . whatever, I'm still glad to have it. 

8 comments:

  1. What a great memory. We have lots of words we say because of our kids. "Lawnblowers" comes to mind. Since J could speak he's called the lawn mower a lawn blower. We probably always will:-)

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  2. Thanks for sharing such a great memory. Your dad sounds truly amazing as a father, and husband.

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  3. How the times have changed. Back then it was cool to have a new clean seed corn cap especially if going to town...current rapper style now, without the seed corn logo. I have now been informed by the younger generation that it is cooler to have a well worn dirty cap... but John I'm with you all the way, you are looking good!

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  4. Jon, please forgive me for misspelling your name!!! I also forgot to mention that P. Diddy was one of the first to copy our style in hats. We were ahead of our time. This is the first recorded time in history that style developed in the mid west and moved to the coasts and Hollywood.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah! Who says the Midwest hasn't contributed to high fashion?!

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  5. Dad says-
    All I heard back then was how much farming had changed since the 30's, 40's or 50's and how it would never be the same nor as much fun or rewarding. And in the click of two fingers I'm the one thinking about how much has changed.
    I loved what I did. Cold, hot, windy, rain, ice, blizzards, humid or beautiful sun-filled skies was all part of my day and I loved being in those elements. A fifteen minute mid-morning break with a cup of coffee would make the ice disappear from my whiskers. A warm noon meal and short nap would make the afternoon seem easily manageable. At night a kitchen filled with aromas that would make a man beg for a seat at the table, a gorgeous wife, three sweet girls and about ten minutes was all it took for me to forget about bankers, looming storms or falling commodity prices.
    Thanks for the reminder, Adriane. I've had a life bigger than I could ever have imagined.

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    Replies
    1. Not to mention the time Kel and Lauren got their hula hoops stuck in the tree, and you had to take a break from work, a fishing pole, and some serious casting skills to retrieve them.

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