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Commentary: Remembering a Trip to the Farm

By Jim Nolan

Buffalo, NY – It's quite possible that I have, as they say, Irish Alzheimer's. I forget everything but a grudge.

I was lately recalling a particular outrage that happened to me 35 or so years ago in the Boston Hills near Route 219.

As kids we were lucky enough to spend many weekends at the Urban's farm there. Brothers Tim and Larry Urban are my dad's oldest friends; they go back to kindergarten in the School of Practice together.

For a kid, or even a parent, the farm is a small paradise. Two ponds, one for fishing, one for swimming; big lawns, a genuine log cabin, and a babbling brook with steep shale sides and salamanders under the rocks.

But best of all, there was a tractor. A real farmer's tractor. Red. Of course, I wanted to drive it. But, although I was six at the time, I was not allowed get behind the wheel like Tim and Larry and drive around the property. Instead, I was told I could drive the tractor when I was 12.

OK, at least that gave me something to look forward to, and for the next six years I counted the days until my 12th birthday. It came in July. A perfect time for me to hop up on the Massey-Harris and go for a spin. But sadly, my father told me that I had to wait until I was 16.

I'm not sure what precipitated this second unfair delay. There was some talk of that time I was driving the snowmobile and crashed it into a barbed wire fence pole, catapulting Larry, seated behind me, into the barbed wire.

But after all, Lawrence was fine except for his shredded coat, and if this time someone bothered to point out the brakes to me, it wouldn't be a problem. This argument fell on deaf ears.

Jim: All right Larry, I don't remember being invited to drive that snowmobile again by either you or your brother.

Larry: Well, I would have invited you to drive it at any time however without me aboard.

By the time I tuned 16, I had moved on. Now I wanted to drive my mom's red convertible Superbeetle. My sister Lisa taught me how to drive it. I knew my parents well enough by then to know that they risked permanent cardiac damage if they got in the car with me. Fortunately, I don't think Lisa ever heard about the snowmobile incident before she agreed to instruct me.

I have a photo from the mid-sixties of my dad, my sister and me holding a string of perch in front of the Urban's cabin. Lisa and I come up to my father's waist. It's raining, but we all look as happy as any three people could possibly be, and that's how I always felt out in Boston. Tractor and snowmobile aside.

Still, I had one question for Larry.

Jim: Well you know Larry, my son Eddie is 13 now. Do you think he's old enough to drive the tractor?

Larry: Oh, Yes!

Jim: Larry, there's no way I'm gonna let a 13-year old behind the wheel of that thing. He'll have to wait until he's 16.

Commentator Jim Nolan is a New York City advertising executive who listens to WBFO on his trips back home.

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