Well, here it is mid February, and we finally got some snow. Blowing snow with my 1978 model Simplicity Snow blower is almost as much fun as cutting the grass...but not quite. Yes, I bought this little 2 hp machine back in '78 after shoveling mountains of snow during the blizzard of 1978. But 1979 proved a very snowy year as well.
Since we moved to Indiana from Wisconsin in 1985, the machine hasn't gotten quite as much use as if we'd stayed in the land of snow, but neverthless, we've had some snowy winters here too....like last year for instance.
I always worry that after all these years the little 2 cycle engine won't start, but believe it or not, I started it for the first time this snow season yesterday in ONE PULL!
I paid about $275 for this back in '78. I've seen machines lately in the $400 category that also work pretty well. My neighbor Steve bought one last year and I got to try it out. But ha! This year when he went to start it, no go! Turns out he had to make a repair of some kind of fuel leak. Guess they don't make 'em like they used to. As long as mine will run, I'll keep it.
Here's my beautiful wife Charlene, trying it out in December of 1978 in Racine, Wisconsin. Our son, Paul, was living under her coat-he was born the following July 1.
Charlene was glad she didn't have to shovel anymore! (Yeah, right)
Believe it or not, this little machine could handle those big plow drifts, albeit slowly.
Prior to World War II, people really didn't mow their lawns. Not most people anyway. But when it all ended and the baby-boom generation was spawned, a new wave of prosperity in the 1950s brought about home ownership like never before seen, and something else...the LAWN. We loved our lawns, but gosh, they had to be kept neatly cut, like the people next door. Old fashioned reel-type mowers that had to pushed by hand (you can still buy them), proliferated, but as the boomer kids got old enough to push them, they yipped and complained-too hard to push! Thus, the necessity being the mother of invention, the power lawn mower came into existance.
I remember that in 1950 when I was about 2, my dad actually had a power mower. It consisted of a motor mounted over a push-type reel mower. You wrapped a rope around the fly wheel and pulled, hoping it would start. That mower didn't last too long, as we moved from Milwaukee to the cold tundra of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when I was 4. My dad, thinking that grass probably couldn't grow up there anyway, got us a regular ol' push reel mower. You see, the growing season up there is roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day, and grass never really gets very thick, since the soil is glacial run-off sand and gravel and quite acidic, due to the preponderance of White and Scotch Pine. And in the winter, which lasts about 8 months, the temperature gets down to as low as 40 below-without wind-chill factored in either. His thinking was that if we had to mow grass for a few weeks, it wouldn't be a problem with a push mower.
But he, well, we by that time, got tired of pure muscle-power and one of our neighbors landed a new invention, a rotary power mower. Wow, what a machine! A small engine mounted over a deck with 4 wheels that spit the grass out the side. Once started, all you had to do was push it. So, a visit to a local department store secured one of those bad boys for our yard. It had a 2 1/4 horse Briggs engine with, get this, a recoil starter! No more rope-winding.
By this time I managed to secure several lawn mowing jobs for people in our neighborhood who didn't have such a device, and was able to earn about a $1 per lawn, which at that time was like about....$100 today? Well, maybe that's an exageration. It helped fund my college education.
But alas, those little engines didn't hold up too well and so about two years later my father decided to really splurge and get....a LAWN BOY mower. Now this was really living large. The deck was made of a very light-weight magnesium, and the engine was of course a 2 cycle motor that required that one mix oil with the gas, but it started so easily that even my little sisters could pull the cord and make it run. Although not self-propelled, it was so light that it made mowing chores a real pleasure, (?) even on those really hot 80 degree days. We had that mower until after I graduated from college in 1970, but by then I was no longer mowing my parents lawn. I had my own to contend with.
Living now in Racine, Wisconsin, we discovered that the soil there is thick and rich and grass grows thicker, and the growing season is from mid-May through September. But yes, I invested in a small Lawn Boy, keeping the tradition alive.
In 1985 my wife and family made the big move to Indiana, where the soil is very rich and very thick and the growing season is, well, late March until Thanksgiving-whew! Since I had a larger lawn, a new self-propelled Lawn Boy became a family member in 1993, and my son Paul became permanently attached to it until he ran off to college in 1997-dang! So...I thought a riding tractor was in order for me and I bought one. Thank God I kept my Lawn Boy though. After about half a season, I sold the John Deere and went back to my faithful 21 -inch deck Lawn Boy, adding well over an hour to mowing time, but getting the best looking cut on the block. Hey, mowing is fun, isn't it?
In 1999 we moved to our present home, and the Lawn Boy moved with us. But by 2010 or 11 it was definitely getting tired. The grass here is really thick and it never seems to stop growing. The little 4.5 horse motor just couldn't seem to get through it easily. I thought I could make it one more season, but in November of '13 it just quit.
After a short funeral ceremony, I put the dead body in the back of my car and made a trip to Ellettsville where I spied that beautiful Husqvarna self-propelled beast with a 7.75, heck let's just round it up to EIGHT HORSEPOWER Briggs and Stratton Engine. I like Briggs because the label says MADE IN THE USA, in fact, Milwaukee, the city of my birth. It starts on one pull (guaranteed) and sounds as smooth as a Harley Roadmaster, also made in that city of suds and sausages along the western shore of Lake Michigan. I firied it up as soon as I got home and made the final cut of the year, finishing up in total darkness, but with a great deal of satisfaction.
I guess, though, I got kind of spoiled by recent years of little rain when I could take a much needed break from mowing in August. I had even used a lawn service for fertilizer and weed control, so that my grass wouldn't die out in the dry conditions. After retiring, I cancelled that, as it was quite expensive, in favor of that highly-advertised four-step plan. Trust me, it works. Too well. Especially with the ideal growing conditions we had in 2014. I have cut my grass 2 to 3 times a week since first-cut at the end of March. Here it is mid-September and it's still thick, green, weed-free, and growing like crazy. I'm sure glad I have my now nearly one-year old orange beast with an 8 horse engine and variable speed self-propelled wheels, and one-lever adjustment of cutting height. I have two neighbors who have admired it so much they want to get one just like it.
Not so fast though, their lawns might then look as good as mine!
Well, it has been just a year since my wife and I stopped working in the full-time world. Charlene is enjoying her time not working immensely, improving her garden, and continuing involvement at our church.
I continue to work part-time for Mid America Radio Group in Bloomington a couple of days a week in ad sales, web site maintenance, plus I do a couple of 15 minute radio shows on one of our stations, WCLS, 97.7. Sunday 7:30-7:45am it's Focus on Finance...and other things with financial planner, Wayne Brewer, owner of New Life Financial Services. Then 7:45-8am I host Focus on Health with pharmacy owner Lynn Hostetler. I' did these shows for several years on other stations, but both Lynn and Wayne were willing and eager to move the shows to WCLS when I made the move down there. That's loyalty, I guess.
I've also created and updated a number of web sites and hope to continue to do that. Keeps me out of trouble.
So between the part-time work, church involvement and upcoming mission trips, Rotary Club (of Brazil), house projects, cutting the grass, and what seems to be non-stop running to various destinations, I get a chance to watch an hour or so of TV a night before hitting the hay.
All said and done, so far it's one of the best times of my life! God is Good.
Well, it finally happened. My wife and I both turned 65. Welcome to Medicare, right? And in our case, welcome to Social Security. I could have waited another year, but the small increase in SS’s monthly payout really wasn’t all that much, and we wanted to have more freedom. I have been doing a one-hour one-way commute for the past 2+ years. Since I haven’t completely retired from my post at Spirit 95 Radio, I still drive down there 2-3 days a week, but can easily do most other tasks related to my job there at my home office-where I am right now.
This whole idea hasn’t really kicked in yet, but having paid off our house earlier this week, it feels really good to be debt-free. I recommend it to everyone. So what to do with time on my hands, beside writing blogs…
More travel, work on developing more web sites for new customers, continue to work part-time, and give my wife a hard time when we’re both home during the week. (not really!) She of course has other ideas, like removing wallpaper, repainting rooms, checking out books to read from the library (or on Kindle). Seriously, we both expect to be involved as we have been, in our church’s activities, I hope to take another short-term mission trip somewhere, get back into Rotary and other community volunteer activities. And “baby-sitting” our grand kids. I think we’ll have plenty to do.