BETWEEN THE BOOKENDS


| December 2001



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Roger Welsch

A light-hearted look at a 'heavy' hobby

Roger Welsch is the Dave Barry of the tractor restoration set, and his latest book, Old Tractors Never Die: Roger's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Ageless Iron, a collection of columns from Successful Farming magazine, proves it: 'I look through all the books on love and marriage in the Dannebrog (Nebraska) library but couldn't find a single bit of advice about what tractor part is most appropriate for which anniversary.'

This is not a gift for himself, but for his wife, Lovely Linda, who has taken up with and been taken by, old iron. Unfortunately (in Roger's eyes), it is not an Allis-Chalmers WC on which she lavishes her affection, but (gasp!), a John Deere B. (To make matters worse, in real life Roger was run down by a John Deere tractor and suffered grievous injuries.) Nevertheless, Roger magnanimously comes up with a list of possible gifts: '5th Anniversary: 10 quarts of scented crankcase oil. 6th: A romantic evening eating popcorn, drinking strawberry daiquiris and watching engine rebuild videos, one for Allis, one for John Deere.'

Other special days present problems too, Roger notes. Valentine's Day, for example. He figures a magneto might do the trick, along with a poem:

You're the spark plug of my heart, Without you my engine is missing a part, You're still the girl whom I admire, So turn the crank and let 'er fire.

Before his wife caught the bug, she lamented, 'I just wish Roger had a hobby that didn't weigh so much,' whereupon a friend remarked, 'You mean like maybe a hobby weighing 120 pounds, with high heels and long, blond hair?' 'So much for that discussion,' Roger writes.

Roger is always pointing out certain deficiencies: '...what I consider one of the single most important, most neglected elements of the perfect shop: bouquet. Like a good wine, a shop needs just the right 'nose.' In my shop there is the underlying piquancy of Liquid Wrench with a distinct overlay of stale transmission grease. Not to be ignored, however, is the suggestion of rotting rubber and a lingering but ephemeral trace of welding fumes.'