Sunday, May 31, 2015


Mike on mower, 2008
In the previous post, comments developed along the theme of mowing the lawn. “Uncle” Dan is enjoying his new John Deere 300 riding mower with 48-inch deck, while Mike recently bought an old Yard Machine with 46-inch deck. Meanwhile, Hallie commented that they use “old technology” -- the whirring push mower.

When I was a child, the push mower was common. That’s the way you mowed your lawn in those days. There’s something comforting about that whirring sound. Then those noisy gasoline mowers came on the scene. A few people had electric mowers –less powerful but quiet; just don’t mow over the cord.

About 1960 my dad got a “self-propelled” push mower, which was a step forward in ease of use. You just released that lever with your foot and the mower took off on its own. It just needed the guidance of the operator. Now Daddy could leave Mother and me to mow the lawn at the farm while he did other chores. Mother was not happy about that, I think. I don’t know if he asked her to mow or if his idea was that I should mow and she decided to job share. (It was the ‘50s, remember, and the division of work along gender lines was alive and well.) At any rate, Daddy did “the hard part” by going around the perimeter of the grounds. Then Mother and I took turns, one round at a time until she decided we could do two, then three, etc. It was a hot day, and she insisted we sip lemonade when we were sitting out.

But, I don’t remember that she and I ever mowed more than a couple of times. For one thing, we don’t water the lawn at the farm, so as hot August approaches, the grass dries and quits growing. The yard in town was another matter. It was a big job, and Daddy did it.

I suppose it was the ‘70s when Daddy bought a riding mower for the farm – a Craftsman from Sears, I think. And as his health failed, our neighbor, friend, and farmer, Neil Miller, mowed the lawn. He said he enjoyed doing it, and he probably did. I’m sure there was at least one upgrade. A riding mower was there as Mike and I learned the ropes of caring for the old place. Mike remembers that he used up that mower and sold it for a hundred dollars. Being an old tinkerer, Mike always replaces the old mower with another old mower, but I know the ride isn’t smooth (like Uncle Dan’s) and that’s noticeable in his back.

I don’t know how they mowed the lawn at the farm in the old days. Maybe Chuck can enlighten us. KW

[The top photo shows Mike on our riding mower in 2008. He wrote "R.I.P." on that mower last week. In the two old photos, Mike mows at the farm with Milo in July 1980. Seems to be solemn work.]


Chuck said...

When I was young, I don't remember ever mowing the lawn at the farm, except with the motorized push mower. Mostly, I was riding the "bigger" stuff, sometimes making a nuisance of myself, such as rolling, and rolling, and rolling the potato field. We had flat potatoes that year. I never did that again. I was mostly working in the fields, from age 10 up. That let your dad free to do other "important" things. I do remember him getting the Craftsman mower, and I mowed quite a bit with that, since it was "motorized" and was not like a little toy.

Chris said...

My parents didn't get a power mower until John was in, probably, junior high and then he paid half because he was going to use it to go into the yard business. (Incidentally, it's the one we inherited later on!) Since Dad was almost always out of town working, Mom, John and I were the ones in charge of the yard. I remember taking over for John's customers one summer, probably '67, when he went to Boy Scout camp, and lifting the mower into and out of our car trunk. Not an easy chore!

And you're correct; Dan especially loves the nice ride of the new mower--much easier on his body.

Kathy said...

Thanks, Chuck, for accepting my invitation to share your memories about mowing.

Wow, Chris! I can just imagine that lifting the mower was difficult -- not only heavy but awkward. Good for you for stepping up to help John so that he could keep his clientele happy.

Kristina Cobb said...

The John Deere 300 riding mower is quite a convenient machinery to have, and is a great thing to have for large lawns. Anyway, mowing was definitely different back then, and it’ll definitely make you appreciate how easy we have it these days. Thanks for sharing this with us, Kathy. Have a great day!

Kristina Cobb @ Denny's Lawn & Garden

Mike said...

I first began mowing when I was about 9 in Arkansas. It was the old push type and we had a steep terrace in front that was tough. We moved to Mississippi when I was 10 and had a yard that was about 100'x 360'. Dad bought a 17" power mower and said, "Son, the yard is yours". I used that machine for a number of years and then, like John, I had a few customers whose yard I mowed. The summer of my Freshman year in high school I worked for the school district and mowed those grounds. We had a tractor and also a big walk behind mower for smaller areas.

Hallie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hallie said...

So many comments for me to comment on!

Uncle Chuck: I didn't know they ever did potatoes at the farm. Why do you think they stopped?

"Aunt" Chris: Lifting a mower is a two person job! Hopefully you got to keep the proceeds and didn't lose too much in medical bills from the cuts and bruises you acquired lifting that darn thing.

Kristina Cobb: You are the queen of mowing related blog posts. We are honored to have received your comment! ;)

Dad: That was an insanely large yard that you had in Mississippi. How many homes do you think are there now?

Mike said...

When I was last there (about 6 years ago) still just one. They have big yards in the South.