Now You Know the Rest of the Story – January 2014
One thing about being raised on a dairy farm is the fact that the cows needed to be milked every morning and every night. During the day, the cows would be out in the pasture, so when the evening milking time would come, the cows would need to be rounded up and moved into the barn. In those days, each cow had its own stanchion where it would stand while the milking was done. Usually, each cow would be given some grain and/or some hay so that it could be eating while dad and my brothers spent 1-2 hours milking approximately 35 cows.
As we all grew older, we were given increasing responsibility in the operation of the farm. One day, mom and dad had some responsibility and needed to be away until later in the evening and the duties surrounding the evening milking fell to my brothers and I. When it came time to round up the cows and herd them into the barn, we had several options. 1) We could call for the cows to come, but most of them did not respond to our invitations of “here Bessy”. 2) If the cows were some distance away, we could saddle-up Tootsie, our horse, and ride out, circle around them, and chase them into the barn. 3) For a while we had a border collie that we trained to round up the cows and herd then into the barn. The trouble with that was, that if some cow would stop to eat (or do some other bodily function), the collie would come up behind them and bite the ankles of the cow’s rear legs. This would cause the cow to run. Most dairy farmers know that when a cow runs, it takes considerable time for the milk to “drop” so that the production for that animal will be much less.
On this given day when mom and dad were gone, my older brother, Richard said it was my responsibility to round up the cows and get them into the barn. Having just learned to drive, I thought that perhaps a fourth way to bring in the cows would do the trick. Because our parents had taken the pick-up for their business, that left the ’54 Plymouth 2-door sedan at home. I got the keys, opened the gates and drove out into the pasture, being careful to circle behind the cows. I opened the driver’s window, hollered at the cows and they began moving toward the barn. When a cow over to my right started to stray, I knew I should circle that way to keep it in with the rest of the herd. What I didn’t see was that by making a sudden turn, the front wheels dropped into a low spot and as I kept moving forward, the muffler bottomed out on the ground. As I kept moving forward, the muffler pulled away from the front of the tail-pipe. Suddenly, the ole ’54 had open headers, which frightened the cows and they all took off on the run to get to the barn.
We completed the milking that evening and noticed that production was down nearly 50%. My brother and I jacked up the car and re-connected the exhaust pipe to the muffler on the Plymouth. When we milked the cows the next morning, dad asked us if we had milked all the cows the night before, or if perhaps, we had done our task in a big hurry. “We just milked them as usual, Dad”, was our reply. I don’t think I ever told him what had really happened. So dad, as you read this now, this is the rest of the story. I feel better for having told you, and someday, I will explain about the time that I split a big wide hole in the muffler on that same car.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi, at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch, at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980. Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip. Elvon now races in the Sportsman category, and can be seen talking amongst friends in the lanes.