The Last Windrow: After a year, I'm getting used to retirement

My laboring life has been an interesting circle.


I have come full circle. The one-year anniversary of an event will happen June 1, 2021.

I retired from my last job on that day last year. My laboring life has been an interesting circle.

On the farm years ago, no one I knew ever retired and moved to the south. Those hard-working farmers just stayed on the land and farmed until they dropped. It was thought of as sacrilegious to say you were retiring.

The question asked was, "What will you do?" The work ethic was so well ingrained in their collective natures that "doing nothing" was seen as a kind of cardinal sin. You must keep on keeping on! "Idle hands are the work of the devil!" was a quote I heard from the pulpit many times.

But on June 1 of last year, at the start of the pandemic, I retired from my last paid position. It has been a year and I do miss the schedule and regimen that accompanied my former position as a chamber of commerce director. Every day was a new day and I do miss the social interaction with those folks who were, for the most part, happily vacationing in our area of Minnesota. Not many crabs in that crowd.


Looking back over my span of employment I found I'd retired from a number of jobs along the way. Being brought up on a farm we were just expected to do our chores and whatever work came about. There were no timecards, only getting the job done.

Pay was also hard to come by, but I ate many wonderful dinners at the table and slept peacefully under the farmhouse roof, so there were benefits.

My first job in a factory was stacking steel behind a giant shear at Wilson Trailer Co. After a summer of that factory experience I thought there must be something better. My summers during college I worked at a large feed mill. Stacking feed bags as fast as I could run in simmering 100-degree heat didn't sit well with me either, and I decided to retire from that job after two summers.

After college days I grabbed a quick job at a local sand and gravel operation running heavy equipment. I loaded more gravel trucks than one could count, but sitting in that loader 12 hours a day and being sandblasted by those strong Iowa winds didn't seem to be a future where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I asked for a raise and I got it. A quarter an hour. I was off to Minnesota and another retirement took place.

Minnesota was kind to me. My first actual job was going to work at a bait and tackle shop in fishing country. I loved that experience and still look back in fondness as I was promoted to managing the place when the owners weren't present. I counted more leeches and minnows than Carter has pills, but that job was fun and paid the bills.

I retired from that job in 1978, when my wife and I bought her parents' department store.

We ran the store for 30 years and only sold it in 2008. I retired from selling shoes and T-shirts and took the position of chamber director for the next 20 years.


June 1, 2020, was the date I retired from opening that door.

So, I have come full circle from the time I had no actual job other than helping on the farm until now when I again have no official job.

People ask me, "What are you doing since you retired?" I can only tell them that I am catching up with things I was unable to do while fully employed. I read the paper with leisure, watch the Twins when I want to (with their record this year, not much), listen to my wife's suggestions as to how many rows of potatoes to plant, and I've got the most orderly tackle box I've ever had.

So, there are things to do to keep my hands from being "idle."

I'm getting used to retirement. It's not bad. Was it four rows of potatoes she wanted to plant or five?

See you next time. Okay?

John Wetrosky - Last Windrow.jpg

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