Out behind the barn on our family farm was a graveyard. Not the kind of graveyard you might imagine. As a young boy, I would go there a lot and just explore it. It was a graveyard of old horse-drawn farm implements. There was a hayloader that horses pulled through the field and it scooped up hay and put it on a wagon. There were two or three frames of old horse drawn heavy duty farm wagons. The wheels were big and strong, the frames, though being left out in the harsh winters of Northeastern Ohio for probably 75 years, were still in workable condition save some minor repairs. There were old plows, cultivators, a horse-drawn hay rake that we converted for use with a tractor. This graveyard was a treasure field for me.
I would often sit on the wagon and pretend I was in the wild west, just as I would watch on TV. I was Roy Rogers jumping off Trigger onto an out of control wagon, saving Dale Evans from destruction. Or was the wagon master guiding his wagon train into a circle to fight off Sioux warriors. With my Mattel six gun at my side and my Winchester lever action (air rifle), I would hide behind the wheels and prevail against all odds. These were great adventures playing through my mind as I climbed on and off and under that old farm equipment. On any given day, the graveyard of old implements turned into a wild fantasy world where my imagination took me down a long winding road of great adventure and life-saving heroism.
One day, my cousin Steve came over. Steve is three years younger than me. But we played together often—either at my farm or his. He was Pat Brady because he was more interested in cars than horses. I was Roy Rogers because, well, just because. We decided to make an entire western town with the implements and pieces of “stuff” we found in the graveyard. So we worked all morning, took a break for lunch, and worked all afternoon putting our town together. We found an old canvas and made a teepee. We struggled for hours to dislodge one of the wagon frames from decades of settling in the soil to move it into our “town’s” street. We made a hitching post and a store front. By the end of the day we were too tired to play.
For years, that little western town was the stage where many wars were won, many damsels in distress were saved, where many bad guys were shot down in gunfights, where cattle (real cattle) were driven through the street, where bank robberies were fled on horseback. Parts of that little makeshift western town, which came to life in our imaginations, remained until the barn was taken down because it was caving in—and that was long past my college days. Cousin Steve actually took many of the graveyard implements and repurposed them for other people. These were days that not many experienced. The days in the lives of two American boys who still believe in God and Country. As Ecclesiastes 11:9 says, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” Find the joy and remember it.