As a kid, Andy was outdoors during much of the summer months. And not lying by the pool with a Coke in one hand and a fetch-it stick for his dog in the other. His dad started him at age nine to help in the family hay-hauling business. Working many times from “Can’t see to can’t see.” At the ripe old age of fifteen, Andy had the responsibility of securing his own workers and heading his own crew, while Dad ran another.
His dad’s system of I-get-the-jobs–and-we’ll-get-’er-done worked well…most of the time. But once, an impending rain storm was to come later that day. Hay laying in the field would be ruined. A neighbor called and hired the Bowmans to get his hay into the barn before the storm. So crew members were called and the job was set.
Remember – Andy’s task was to accomplish what Dad had contracted.
(Now, folks, I almost hear your outrage at the near-mistreatment of a child. But things were different many years ago, especially on a farm. Children worked with parents at a much earlier age than is acceptable today. Often it meant financial survival, while teaching kids responsibility and obedience.)
That day in July was unbearably hot and extremely muggy. Half-way thru the job, one of his crew decided enough was enough. Sweat dripping from every pore, he told Andy that he was done for the day, and he needed to be taken home…right then. As you can guess, the argument that broke out was as heated as the glaring sun.
Understand, at fifteen Andy was short for his age, and tipped the scales at barely one fifty. His crew-member? Six foot two, two hundred twenty pounds – and a football lineman for their school.
Finally Andy ended the hot debate with a flat “No way, rain’s a-comin,’ and there ain’t time.” To which his burly friend declared, “I’ll flatten you right now, and then you are gonna get me home!”
Filthy field gloves were thrown aside as Andy stood his ground. “Well, then ya better just get with it. ‘Cause when you’re thru, I’m goin’ back to the field to finish the job. And you? Guess you’re gonna walk back to town!”
His friend asked why in the world he would stand there and take a beating from someone so much bigger and stronger. Andy answered as he glared up at him, “Dad said to get this hay in the barn before it rains. And I’m gonna do it. Rather take a whippin’ from you than let my Dad down. So have at it.”
The friend walked the five miles back to town. Andy went back to the field.
Why the gutsy stand against all odds? Fear? No, just a healthy respect and love for Dad, who had taught him that real men do what they say. At almost any cost.