It’s been a year now since Russ and I drove to Alliance to pick up Betsy. Carl met us at his shop on a Sunday where Betsy sat on a rather cold windy day.
Jeff, our son-in-law, had called weeks earlier to see if there’s any chance we’d want to give Betsy a new home. And so it went, she would become ours. Did we adopt her? No, we bought her. She’s a skid steer. That’s right . . . a machine.
Often times when we traveled, Russ would drive through old machinery lots looking for a prize to latch onto. He wanted something that would be handy for moving snow, moving dirt, and just to have when needed. Part of it was no doubt the farmer in him. Obviously he couldn’t justify a new one for a pretty penny, but he had a dream of a hand-me-down . . . one that works of course.
So Jeff was making an Allo Communications call to Carl’s shop in Alliance to work on a phone line. It happened to be coffee time for Carl and some of his buddies.
Jeff, being the friendly conversationalist that he is, commented on the new skid loader. Carl, a railroad retiree, mentioned that he was selling his old one. It was then that Russ came into the picture and negotiations happened over the phone.
I vividly recall that day when we drove to Alliance with a trailer. Carl showed up momentarily when he knew we had arrived. He was a friendly, vivacious gentleman and you could tell he wanted Russ to feel he got a good buy. We followed him to the back of the shop where we were introduced to Betsy.
Carl demonstrated some of the tricks to making her work as he had obviously done some rebuilding over the years. After the machine was loaded and secured, Carl wished us well. “She’s been a real good girl,” he said. Wow. That piece of equipment had obviously had some tender loving care.
She’s certainly nothing to look at and shows her age. Covered with rust with a seat that’s ripped up, she’s still worth a mint. That value lit up again the very first day of the new year when Alan, our press man, got her revved up for snow removal.
We were out of state where the snow wasn’t flying. I appreciate so much how Alan is Johnny on the spot when there’s a need and it was certainly nice to come home to a cleared driveway.
Dear old rusty Betsy’s been sitting outside unattended for many months in an out-of-sight out-of-mind scenario. She was a salvation last summer on the drive to the cabin at the lake when Russ was able to dig a trench to divert the storm waters from washing out the roads. And now she’s producing results again.
Bless her heart. Wait! She has no heart. Makes me think of Gertrude, the GPS device that Russ bought for our daughter when she was heading across the country to New Hampshire for a summer. Good ol’ Gertrude guided Celeste where she needed to go in many unfamiliar territories. It guided her home safely and has helped in her college treks.
Here’s to Betsy and Gertrude for the difference they make!
LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: ljpank@chase 3000.com