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{SFTH}   *The Auction*  6/5/01


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By Al Batt

  I am filling boxes with memories.  They are items that will be auctioned.
I do it with more than just a touch of sadness.  It is in preparation for a
retirement auction. My brother, his wife and their son are selling Hartland
Farm Equipment, a hardware and implement business that has been a
flagship in the city's business community for 54 years.

I came across an old sign for the business showing that the first telephone
number for the business was two longs and a short. Those were the days
when you turned the crank on the phone and said things like, "Hello, Sarah,
could you get me Floyd down at the barber shop?"  Health concerns have
made this change necessary.  It is a difficult thing for my brother, someone
who has never grasped the concept of quitting. Times change and so do lives.
We cannot live our lives over.  Life will go on, traveling a different road.

This business has been a part of my brother's life for many years.  He is a brother
who can fix just about anything.  He has been the perfect sibling for a baby
brother like me, who is mechanically challenged, but gifted when it comes
to breaking things.  I walk through a maize of lawn mowers of various colors,
sizes and personalities. The mowers, of the riding and push variety, bring
back a lot of memories.  Memories of Hartland's hay day, when it featured
not only an Allis-Chalmers dealership, but a John Deere one also.
Allis-Chalmers Days and John Deere Days were festive occasions looked
forward to by all.  Food, films and prizes were shared with everyone,
regardless whether they preferred the orange or the green tractors.  Those
were the halcyon days when it was possible to do all of your Christmas
shopping in Hartland by visiting what were known as "Einar's" and the
"John Deere Shop."  When we would lose track of my father, we knew the
places to look for him.  He would either be in Vivian's Cafe enjoying one
of Vivian's fried rolls or he would be in the back of Einar's, visiting with
the mechanics there as they worked on a tractor.  He loved talking with
them, unless they were working on one of his tractors.  Then he wanted
them to concentrate on the job and keep the shop hours on his bill to
a minimum.  The owners of this business gave back to the community.

My brother was the fire chief of Hartland for many years and my sister-in-law
was the mayor for a long time.  They were always willing to help in any way
that they could.  For a number of years, they held a hog roast and sweet corn
feed and invited everyone.  And everyone came.  They have lived in Hartland
all of their married life and raised four wonderful children..  I am sure they
found, as most business owners do, that their job was both rewarding and

Hartland Farm Equipment was a friendly place where no one
gave you the look if you tracked mud or other things into the store. We
choose a career path or sometimes it chooses us.  We find a way
to pay the bills.  None of their children have chosen to take over the business.
You cannot blame them.  A small town like Hartland, a wonderful place to live,
does not offer the brightest future for a business of this kind.  The population
of Hartland is 288 and at its current growth rate, it will hit a population of 500
in 117 years.  I stop to look at a mower called a Dixie Chopper--a way to
mow the lawn without the necessity of a steering wheel.  I look up from the
machine to see the auction bill tacked to the bulletin board.   I react with
moral indignation.  I have the sudden urge to tear up the bill and some of
the passing years with it.  I want to do that, but I realize that it will not change
a thing.   I want the best things for those I love.  I want them to be happy.  I
trust and pray this change will leave them so.  Good people are always
bigger than their problems.  I will help at the auction.  There will be some
sadness and a few tears will be shed. We all fall down and we all get up.
For me, I am just happy that life doesn't go to the highest bidder.

Al Batt,  2001

Send Al an email and let him know what you thought of his story!

Al lives on a farm in Minnesota with his wife, Gail.  Al is a writer, a newspaper columnist, a radio personality, a speaker and a storyteller. 

Al Batt
RR1 Box 56A
Hartland, MN 56042


Thought For The Day:

"The secret of success is to be like a duck--smooth and unruffled on top, but paddling furiously underneath." (William H. Danforth)

Verse for the Day:

"I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 1 Corinthians 15:10

Kid's Thought for the day:

"Open your eyes under water."

Parent's Thought For The Day

"A parent's children and garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season."

Coach's Thought For The Day

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."
(Hannah More)

Deep Thought For The Day:

"On Gilligan's Island, if the professor could build a radio out of coconut,
why couldn't he fix a hole in the boat?"


\_\  /  
/_/  \    "For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but
\_\/\ \   Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live for the Son
   \_\/   of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20 


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