The Seamstress and the Salesman (excerpt)

by Michael Ransom, Karen (Engel) Gorman, and the Engel Family

“I led a dual life. My parents lived in the town of Kenyon where I was born, so I spent time in town. But I spent an awful lot of time on my Grandpa and Grandma Overby’s farm, three and a half miles south of Kenyon. Since I was their first grandchild, I could do no wrong, so I was welcomed to spend much time on the farm. I got to participate in most of the fieldwork. I even ran the two-horse corn cultivator when I was 12 years old. When I was about 10, my uncle and his wife had a little boy. When thrashing time came, I was all set to have the job of tending the grain box. But my aunt said to my uncle, “No, he has to take care of this baby.” I felt that I really had been demoted. I’m not sure if I ever told my cousin that.

My uncle bought an F-30 Farm-all. They had a 10-20 before that. They were going to cut grain, and they pulled the binder with the tractor. They had to have a man sitting on the binder to run the bundle carrier. I couldn’t run the tractor, so my uncle took the clutch petal off, took it to town, and had an extension welded onto it so that I could reach it.

One afternoon I rode along with my grandpa when he took lunch to my uncle who was working in the field. Grandpa never really mastered the art of driving. After we delivered lunch, my uncle, who heard us coming, asked, “Clayton, can you drive?” I was probably 12 at the time. I said, “Yeah.” My uncle said, “OK, then you drive back.” Grandpa had made that entire trip in first gear.”

Seamstress and the Salesman