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08/31/2004 Entry: "Fond Memories of Lawn Mowers"

So Sunday, I was at the 'rent's house, having just consumed a wonderful Sunday dinner, and had Mom give me a haircut. Julia needed her bangs cut, so while that was going on, I sat around with Dad. Dad then asked if I'd be willing to take his riding mower and cut Ma's (my grandmother who lives next door) lawn. Being the dutiful son, I went over and mowed. I was driving back when I decided to relive the past a bit.

My grandfather (Father is how I knew him) was a wiz with small engines. Lawn mowers, outboard motors, chainsaws, weed wackers, whatever, he could fix it. (He once rebuilt a motor scooter for Dad that came entirely in milk crates and boxes.) Anyway, if you were from Spruce Head, and you needed your lawn mower fixed, you took it to Father. If your mower was too far gone, and not worth fixing, you just bought another one from him. You could get your average mower for $15, and $35 would get you a "cocker" (I guess that's how you spell it--that's how he'd pronounce something that was very good) with self-propulsion.

Anyway, when Father would get a mower fixed, he'd take a couple of quick passes with it over on Dad's lawn. He'd just cut a couple of big swaths, and leave the rest. Dad would be furious! It looked awful, a couple of paths cut through the grass. It stood out like a sore thumb.

So as I'm driving back to put Dad's rider away, I decide to give him an homage to his father, my grandfather, Father. I dropped the blade as low as it would go, and smiling this crazy goofy grin, I made a couple of loop-de-loos on Dad's yard. Mom said she was sure Father would be smiling up in Heaven.


Monday. I'm picking up my lawn mower from the machine shop. The pull cord let loose on her. Father never fixed the pull cords--it wasn't worth his time. If it was a Briggs and Straton mower, he'd find the cover from a junked mower, pull it off (complete with pull cord) and install that in place of the broken one. So, the top was red and your engine was black. So it was old and your engine was new. It looked different, but it worked all the same. "There you are, $10." This would be the first time I've ever paid anyone to work on a mower for me. My mower before this was given to me by Father: a 3 1/2 horse Tecumseh engine on a little 18" deck. "Now that thing will cut grass" he said of it. Well, he died, and then the mower died, and it wasn't worth fixing. So I bought a 5 horse self propelled rear bagger/mulcher at the end of the season at Wal-Mart for $125--a steal. But after six years or so, the cord went. So, to the shop...

I'm at the shop when former Spruce Heddah Sumner Kinney stopped in, just as I was loading my mower into the truck. "Where's your grandfather when you need him?" he said.

"Yup," I replied, "this is the first time I've ever had to pay for someone to work on my mower."

"Gone are the days of the $15 mower" Sumner said.

"Yeah," I said. "I remember back when if your mower got too far gone..."

"...you just bought a different one," Sumner filled in. "I accidentally put kerosene in my tank. I can hear your grandfather yelling at me now."

True, he was a yeller. Stubborn, ornery, a true Maine codger in every sense. And yet, I miss him so much.

Replies: 2 people have rocked the mic!

Are you seeking information on the real story of the "Ghost" pedal. Facts are from Mr. John Ramsey.

Posted by Roy Peeler @ 09/02/2004 02:19 PM EST

I remember those days at your grandfathers very well. But today is a sad day to remember for the passing of our uncle

Posted by Roger @ 09/10/2004 01:47 PM EST

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