One summer, when Rod was just old enough to see over the dash of the pickup while sitting on his bottom, but not old enough to push the pedals, and I still had to sit on my knees to see out, we had a chore every Saturday morning which required Rod to drive. We would wake up and get dressed in our Levi’s, eat breakfast, and then head out to the driveway to the old green International pickup. I would climb into the passenger side and Rod would get behind the steering wheel and scoot over so that our dad could sit on the very edge of the seat. Our dad would push the clutch in and turn the key and start the pickup. He would then pull out the choke, just enough to make the engine run faster, but not enough to flood the engine, and then he would put the pickup in first gear. As soon as the pickup started to move, he would step out and onto the ground and Rod would grab the steering wheel and steer us toward the main dirt road that ran in front of our house. He would turn left, his arms working hard to crank the steering wheel, and then we would head north. I would sit on my knees and hold my hand out the window and move it up and down and let the warm air flow over it. If a farmer was close and driving a tractor I would wave and hope he would see me and wave back. After several miles, Rod would make another left turn and head west toward our neighbor’s farmhouse. After a half mile he would turn into their driveway and the chickens in the way would squawk and scatter as they got out of the way.
When Rod pulled in front of their main door he would reach down and turn the key off and the pickup would lurch once or twice before coming to a standstill. We would turn our buzzed heads toward the house where Amanda was always standing and waiting for us. She was a short wide lady, and her smile was as wide as she was. She’d walk down the steps and up to the pickup.
“Come on in,” she would say and she would scoot us along the sidewalk and up the steps into the house. Their house was old, but clean. It always had a fresh coat of white paint on the outside and the buildings around it had the same crispy whiteness. As soon as we stepped in, she would usher us into the kitchen and sit us at the table and ask us how we were. We chatted as she walked to the cupboard and pulled out two ice cream cones and then placed two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top of each one and then handed them to us.
We’d lick as fast as we could to keep the ice cream from dripping down on our hands and when we were done, she’d grab two cartons of eggs and we’d give her the money for them. Amanda would then go outside and yell at her husband, Wilbur, who would come in. He was tall and thin, and his smile was as tall as he was. He would herd us out to the pickup, and we would place the eggs between us. Rod would scoot over, and Wilbur would sit on the edge of the seat by him, start the pickup, put it in gear, and step away. Rod would then make a big loop in their driveway and head back down the road while I’d look out the window and let the warm air flow over my hand and arm. Finally, Rod would pull up in front of our house and turn off the key. We would then climb out and grab the eggs, and as we carried them into the house, we would strut, thinking we had just completed the most important job in the world.