I don't believe my father ever truly acknowledged my handicap.By the time I was eight years old he had me driving the tractor and hay baler while he stood on the hay wagon behind the baler and pulling up the bales of hay with a hay hook. He was always in such a hurry. He worked the 3:00pm to 11:00p.m. shift at the factory in town besides working his farms, and keeping a herd of cattle. All Dad ever seemed to think of was getting his work done. He had dual personalities. He could be the sweetest, kindest, man, but when he was working the farms, he was the meanest man ever. I remember one day in particular, I was driving the tractor and baler, and Dad was stacking the bales on the hay wagon. I seen a large clump of hay in the windrow ahead, and knowing it would plug the baler, I stretched for the clutch and brakes. We stopped abruptly, throwing Dad off the wagon. He immediately began cussing and screaming at me. I jumped off the tractor to see if he was alright. As soon as I reached him, he began kicking and slapping me. It was about then that my Uncle Leland came driving his old green truck around the corner of the barn and down the lane to the field we were working. He was Dad's older brother, and a big, rough looking bachelor. He grabbed hold of Dad and shook him around some. He told him, "Don't you ever let me catch you hitting on that boy again!"
I think Dad believed him, but that never stopped him from cussing me and the name calling. I believe I was in my mid-twenties before I realized my name wasn't "Dumb Son-of -a-Bitch!"
I guess the thing that always amazed me was how we'd go to the Grist Mill and Dad would brag on me to the men that were there on how I was only eight years old and drove the tractor and baler.Judging by the looks the men gave, I don't think they were that impressed. People just don't put children that young running such dangerous equipment.... Well, most don't.