Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Growing up green - (and yellow).

There is an album in our minds, pictures and images of our past, pasted there just as those in a worn and tattered album pulled from a hot stuffy attic. While images in the physical album are secured with yellowed tape against stiff black paper or stuck in clear plastic sleeves, the images in our mind come and go or dim and brighten in an unpredictable, never-ending slide show. Sometimes these images serve as icons of our personal history, symbols of events or circumstances that shaped our lives.

I was born in Moline, Illinois where my father worked for John Deere. When Dad became a service engineer and began to travel for the company, we moved downstate to Lexington, where he grew up. Around our house, there were always John Deere things: tractor manuals, work clothes and caps with the running deer emblem, and toy tractors. Green and yellow everywhere. There were special weeks. There was the State Fair in Springfield with the huge John Deere tent where Dad gave away yardsticks as he explained to red-faced farmers the latest features of the newest equipment. There was “dealers school” in the winter, when Dad went to Moline for two or three weeks to teach the dealers mechanics how to fix those new combines and balers. There were Lexington farmers who stopped by on Saturdays with the questions they knew Maurie Lauher could answer. There was green and yellow everywhere.

The running deer is an image in the album of my mind. An image conjured up for nearly sixty years after we moved from Moline. An image conjured up even now by seeing a John Deere tractor in a field along the Interstate, or in a television ad, or during a visit to the home improvement store. Green and yellow is still everywhere.

When I click on the running deer icon in my mind, I remember my Dad. Not just the John Deere employee, but also the steward at the Lexington Methodist Church, the dad who provided wisdom and guidance, who loved his wife and six kids and bragged about his grandsons. Dad could change the brakes on the Plymouth, sew a perfect seam, and fry some really good chicken all on the same weekend after driving 150 miles to get home on Friday night.

Green and yellow everywhere remind me of my Dad.

Maurice Lauher, Sr. would have been 99 years old today.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

What a lovely tribute, what a man.

Funny how colours and symbols from childhood stay with you like that, and have the power to evoke memories...