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The Last Windrow: So much has changed in 75 years

Seventy-five years have taught me that quiet celebrations are really the best kind. My 75 years have been blessed with a loving wife and daughter and I've had a few good bird dogs along the way as well.

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Three quarters of a century; 900 months; 27,375 days; 657,000 hours.

That's how long I've been around this earth this week. Yes, I'm turning 75.

Somehow I find that miraculous. There are things you learn along the way.

Things like never to touch a hot stove top. Things like ducks and geese always fly south in the fall. Things like the sun always comes up in the east.

I've learned that there are some certainties in life that never change. And yet, is it not a miracle of sorts that some of us attain this age strata and many others do not? Why is that?

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I don't know the answer.

Things have also changed during my 75 years. I actually rode in a wagon being pulled by horses while my dad opened a cornfield by hand picking the ears off the stalks. I was given the reins of the horses with the idea that I was actually driving them when actually they were only listening to my dad's commands as he walked down the outer rows of the field.

I can still hear those staccato, rhythmic sounds coming from the corn ears hitting the backboard of the wagon.

Things have changed since that day I remember so well.

Things have changed in family dynamics. Most of my 50-some first cousins grew up and lived within 40 miles of my farm home. That brought all of us closer and we enjoyed celebrating birthdays, going to weddings, sharing holidays with all of the family.

Today's world has dispersed us to some degree. Now we fly across the country to see relatives.

My brother and I listened to the Lone Ranger and Hop Along Cassidy on the radio in our living room while the older folks visited in the farmhouse parlor. Then came the advent of television and we thought it was a miracle to see our heroes in real black and white. We were so mesmerized with the TV set that the cord had to be pulled during chore and milking time.

Over my 75 years, farms changed from four farms to a section to four sections to a farm. Our WD Allis Chalmers would pale in comparison to today's machinery.

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Plowing a 20-acre field took a day or two in my early days, and now those 20 acres are done in mere hours. We bought our seed oats from a neighbor. My first corn picking experience was guiding a one-row Woods Brothers machine up and down those gentle hills while towing a flare box wagon. Now I see 12 row and more combines doing that same job.

Does anyone know what a flare box wagon is anymore?

Things have changed in 75 years.

Over my years I've seen telephones come into almost every home. Then it was mobile phones and now the ever invasive cell phones. We used to look up while walking down the sidewalk. Now everyone seems to be looking down at a piece of plastic in their hands.

No wonder we don't recognize each other much anymore. Technology will surely save us or kill us. I haven't figured out yet which one will win.

Things have changed.

And so, there will be no cake for me with 75 candles lit. Seventy-five years have taught me that quiet celebrations are really the best kind. My 75 years have been blessed with a loving wife and daughter and I've had a few good bird dogs along the way as well.

No complaints.

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I won't be jetting to some far off place for my birthday. I've found that sitting out in front of a lush garden or trolling for a walleye on a placid lake or having casual conversation with a friend or relative are really the only birthday gifts worth giving.

Many things have changed in 75 years.

But it still stings to touch a hot stovetop. At least I've learned that much at 75.

See you next time. Okay?

John Wetrosky - Last Windrow.jpg

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