The Tractor Wreck – Jim Swaffer

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The Tractor Wreck – Jim Swaffer
While we were living in the parsonage at the church in Missouri one of the many tasks that fell to us was mowing the lawn. This was not a normal patch of grass around the house but about seven acres of lawn including a ball field. In order to simplify this job the church purchased a Ford 4000 tractor with a six foot finish mower mounted on the back. For those of you unfamiliar with tractors, this was similar to what you might see mowing the median on the highway.

As our children reached the age of responsibility (so we thought) they would take on the job of mowing to earn a little spending money. Although this was primarily a job for the boys, Becky was not to be denied the opportunity to earn some money. I taught her how to operate the tractor and she would occasionally mow the grass.

One evening, as I was relaxing after a hard day, she came in after mowing and wanted me to put the tractor in the garage. I was very tired so I told her that I was sure she could put the tractor in the garage. She protested a little but then left to finish the job. Soon she came back in half crying but mostly mad. “I told you I couldn’t put the tractor away” she said. It seems I had taught her how to use the clutch but not the brake. On the soft grass just pushing in the clutch brought the tractor to a stop but on the concrete garage floor it continued to roll. To add to the problem there was a slight rise in the garage approach so in order to get up the hill she had to give the tractor some gas. Pushing the clutch in did not stop the tractor until it had destroyed several items stored in the garage and put a bulge in the back wall of the garage. Fortunately no one was hurt and as we look back it has become one of those things we laugh about. It is also fortunate that the boys had some incidents with the tractor themselves so whenever they began to tease about women drivers she could counter with her own account of their “wrecks”.