RUST IN PEACE

“No person, animal, or lawnmower should have to retire in Texas!”

When I first came to Lake Havasu City in 1981, there were two things standing out above all others. Magnificent, London Bridge, being number one. The second jewel in the desert was discovered purely by accident.

We were driving around town slowly looking at houses, hindering traffic at the same time, when all of a sudden, an old push mower popped into view. It was sitting in a manicured gravel yard with a “Rust in Peace” sign hanging from its handle. I immediately jumped out of our rental car and took a picture.

To this day, I’ve never come upon that lawnmower again. I have no idea as to the street it was located nor what part of town. Havasu has a diverse mixture of road names and unfortunately I forgot this one.

Non-motorized push mowers are something I’m well acquainted with. My brother and I cut lawns for a couple of years pushing one of the labor-intensive contraptions. That’s how we made money besides other enterprises, such as collecting pop bottles and returning them to stores for nickel deposits.

Our mower worked fine on short grass, but add some length to the turf plus a little rain, and this chore became torture.

We learned how to adjust a circular blade for better mowing, along with correctly filing it down when rocks dinged up the cutting edge. Keeping things clean and well lubricated was a necessity.

Seeing that old mower in Havasu put out to pasture gave me a laugh. I’m sure the machine my brother and I owned didn’t fare so well as to end up in Arizona. I believe we sold it at a Texas auction after purchasing a used, gas-powered unit. No person, animal, or lawnmower should have to retire in Texas!

While living in Alaska, a good friend gave me a push mower. It was a Sears brand and had barely been used. I never intended on putting the thing to work, so in our shed it went for 30 years.

I eventually hauled the mower out and placed it for sale in a Penny Saver periodical. That’s something akin to White Sheet here in Havasu.

A woman called right away, saying it was exactly what she was looking for. Stopping by the house, she was in her early thirty’s and undoubtedly “green.” I say this respectfully because the lady mentioned wanting to get away from fossil-fuel burning lawn equipment.

She told me that her husband advised against buying one because she’d regret it. Fortunately for me the gal didn’t listen to him. Stuffing $25.00 in my wallet, I happily loaded the lawnmower into a small SUV. It rains cats & dogs in Alaska and grass grows fast. Without question, she soon returned to gas.

I’ve often wanted to add “yard art” to the front of our home much like that old lawnmower. A gentleman living around the corner has a vintage Fordson tractor parked in his. I love it! Wanting to be original with my project, replicating either mower or tractor is out of the question.

When we lived in Texas there were devices called jack pumps throughout the state. A generic term for them is oil well pumps. All day and night they rocked up and down like giant teeter-totters. I was intrigued by the machinery and still am.

A used oil equipment dealer in Oklahoma has several small ones for sale. Photos show them to be fairly rusty and the rustier the better where patina is concerned.

I’ll hook up a small electric motor to keep the arm moving and make it appear operational, plus install an aged chain link fence. A “Rust in Peace” sign will definitely be part of the package.

So far, the only obstacles I know of are concerned neighbors, city code enforcement officers, and my wife. If I can circumvent those small roadblocks, it’s a done deal.

Old Fordson

Author: michaeldexterhankins

ordinary average guy

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