Saw this old relic today and it started a trip down memory lane, riding in the bed of my maternal grandfather’s yellow Studebaker pickup.
He had a ranch east of Saratoga, WY and the summer I turned eight I spent a month there.
WATER IS FOR FIGHTING
Granddad Burtis had the oldest water right on the ditch that served several ranches. He was also the last one on the ditch. We would go out to irrigate and he wouldn’t have all his water. Cursing, he would jump in the pickup with my Uncle Ray and go tearing off to the headqate across fields and along rutted county roads. Riding in the pickup bed were spools of barbed wire, long shovels, pry bars, fence stretchers, dogs and grandsons all being churned as the load bounced up and down.
Grandad was a big man and Uncle Ray about 6’5” with shoulders so wide he went through doors sideways. Hence, there were rarely physical confrontations with the other ranchers. There were rich vocabulary lessons in words and phrases not to be used in polite company as the topic of; “water thieves”, was given a through airing.
When I first arrived, I was given a rusty irrigating shovel (a long handled pointed spade). I was made to understand rust on a shovel was nearly a mortal sin. Message, work that rust off. Granddad wasn’t real pleased to find me in the shop using the pedal powered sharpening wheel to do a little rust removal.
WHAT IS A MAN?
I last saw him Christmas 1962. They were visiting my parents in Steamboat Springs, CO and I came up from Denver in my red sports car wearing “city clothes”. He was distant with me. My Dad had a pickup loaded with stoker coal backed up to the coal shed and asked me to unload it. After changing clothes, I was shoveling about a ton of coal when Granddad came out and watched me.
“Now, by God, you look like a man”, he said.