In retirement I picked up a side job, one that only takes a couple of hours a week but provides an immense sense of satisfaction and enables me to interact with true patriot heroes.
I write about our veterans from wars past in a weekly newspaper column.
Yesterday I had the distinct honor of sitting down with a ninety-two-year-old man who fought in World War Two, a man who had quite a story to tell…not all of it connected to his military service to our country. We conversed for two hours in his living room, in a house that sits on a part of his once 600-acre farm. Much of the land he’d sold off for development once he retired, and the farm now consists of 77 acres.
Near the end of my visit, Jack told me a story about losing some equipment attachments years ago, brand new forks for the hydraulic lift on his Ford tractor. “I put them down somewhere between the old milk house and the drive because I had to change the hinge settings on the tractor’s hydraulics, which would take some time, and I forgot about them.” I asked how large the forks were and he told me. “They’re about four feet long, they’re used for picking up rolled bales of hay.”
I told Jack about my passion for metal detecting. My buddy Ron, who lives about a quarter-mile from Jack and knows him pretty well, would surely help in finding the forks, so I volunteered our services. “I would be grateful if you found those things because they were brand-new thirty years ago!” he laughed, “and you guys can keep whatever else you might find.”
What an opportunity! The farm had been in Jack’s family for well over a century; the original farmhouse, a classic two-story structure from the 1920s, still stands, unoccupied. Jack and his wife, who died four years ago, had built a new home when he’d retired in 2000, on the west edge of the property; the old house sits amongst a collection of smaller buildings used for storage and other farm purposes. “I’d only ask that you let me know when you’re going to be out there”, he said, “so I know it’s not someone I don’t know prowling around on my land.” Though Jack has trouble walking, is blind in one eye and doesn’t hear very well now, I’d taken note of the rifle leaning against a wall next to the rear patio door, one which opens onto a deck that overlooks the old house. Ron and I certainly wouldn’t want to come under fire while detecting with our headphones on, so we’d be sure to stop and visit with Jack for a few minutes prior to working his property.
…and I can’t wait!