I was thinking a little bit earlier about how times have changed, just over the last tewnty five years. In one of the many previous jobs I have done was that of water pump service man. I have worked since I was a child. That's not a boast, it's a fact. Work was expected around the farm as there were many things to be done and I had it easier than a lot of my friends. My dad owned a livestock auction, so we were always feeding, sorting, and loading out for sale. The first time I drove the pick-up while dad fed hay from the back I was five years old and living in Sugar Creek valley on 417 acres. Dad put the truck in low and told me to steer. I was terrified. Lots of my friends did real work, on large dairy farms where they worked from sun up to sun down. I had it easy in comparison. I worked at the livestock auction from childhood until I was 14 or so when I went to work for my step father, Bob Harbit, at Northwest Pump. And I have told you all that to tell you this.
Over the course of several years in the pump business I ran into a couple of people who remind me now of what farming and work was really like. Pump work is hard work, hot and thirsty in the summer and freezing in the winter. Never any water to drink unless you brought your own. But I remember a couple of people who knew what it was like to work.
The first was Roy and Ruth Elzey who had a place out toward Beaver Lake. Mr. Elzey was an old Bentonville contractor and the father of two Bentonville Fire Department retirees and the grandfather of one retiree and one who still works here today. When we were in the middle of pulling the pump to correct whatever was wrong down in the well, Mr. Elzey stopped us midway for sandwiches. Now tell me, when you call the plumber today or have your roof replaced on your house do you stop the workers halfway through for snacks? I didn't think so. I usually don't think about it either. But Roy did. He knew what it was like to work all day in the hot sun. I won't ever forget the hospitality.
The other time was when Bob and I were working for Mrs. Inlow in Cave Springs. She was the mother of Charles Inlow, one of the first cardiologists in Northwest Arkansas and a student of my grandmother's at Cave Springs Elementary School back in the 50's. Tragically, cancer took this brilliant doctor in 2009. But back to the story. Halfway through the job we were stopped by Mrs. Inlow for lunch. Forced. There was no way to say no. This was how it was going to be.
When we cleaned up a little and went into her kitchen she had laid out a spread fit for a Sunday dinner. There was virtually everything you could think of - the table was covered with all sorts of food. Do you remember when you used to go to your grandmother's or great-grandmother's for a visit on Sunday and piles of food would appear as if by magic? How did they do it? I'm lucky if the peanut butter at my house is fresh, yet here it was. Everything.
Mrs. Inlow was raised on a farm I'm sure and had her own farm for years. She knew what it was like to work all day and she was prepared to feed the workers just like she had her entire life. Second nature.
I will never forget these two thoughtful people who remembered what real work was like in a world where most people don't give the working man a second glance.