Coincidences give me the feels. I chase triple deuces and delight in small surprises of mutual revelation or divine interaction. I love to notice the little things. I try to look at things through a different perspective and I think sometimes my brain works much like that of a photographer with words – trying to find the best angle to present an idea. Stretching language into something thoughtful and, quite possibly, even a little profound. Combining writing with interesting observations makes my heart feel alive. I’ve been a writer since I was a kid, but I didn’t always know it.
I grew up on the highway north of rural Weiser, Idaho. I was raised mostly like a country farm kid with animals, alfalfa fields, and cowpie throwing contests. I literally competed in the act of throwing bovine crap the farthest or at the target of my cousin’s head full of red hair. Ew.
When I wasn’t chucking animal feces, I was able to participate in the lives of my parents at their local tractor repair shop. It’s a pretty cool saga.
My dad is one of the best mechanics this side of the Mississippi. He can figure out almost anything mechanical. He has even invented equipment for processing onions. With a wife and two kids in tow, he started young learning how to use his skills and he went for it. He launched a tractor repair business and built a huge shop, out near our humble place out of town. It grew from mechanic’ing to offering parts, and later sales of all types of farm implement in just a few years. He expanded once to the country shop and then progressed into town.
The first building we call the “McMullen Building” in our family. I do not know why. It has been “Simplot” for over twenty years, now, but my brain still calls it the McMullen Building. Old habits die hard or not at all, I suppose. The McMullen building is on the corner of West 3rd and Commercial streets, which is only helpful if you’re a local. If not, just hold onto that detail for a moment.
I can remember hustling through summers on my purple Huffy bike around the grain silos from the feed store nearby. I distinctly remember pedaling and hiding in one of the lean-to’s when a farmer named “Kissin’ Rod” would come by. I was not at the age where I liked being kissed by boys.
When I entered Park School, for grades 4-6, I can remember riding my bike to school on the dirt backroads to avoid the highway. My sweet friend and I would pedal or walk to our parent’s workplaces after school. Being at the shop was a very normal part of my lifestyle, albeit as natural as a square peg in a round hole.
At this time, after a few years of success at the McMullen building, my parents moved their business to 35 E Commercial Street. Only four blocks from the previous location, the new building was very large, industrial sized, with a large lot, shop, and showroom. We call this building the “HJH building.” You may call it the quilting store or the 2nd hand consignment store now.
My childhood was spent on these stomping grounds of Weiser playing “tractor shop.” I was a paid employee at one point, but I don’t think I ever really earned my pay working for my parents. I was mostly a tag along and found my own interests on service calls (eating watermelon inside with sweet old ladies while dad fixed the equipment in the heat) or working in the office (calculators, typewriters… stamping everything in sight). Kids like me tend to do that.
My sister, on the other hand, she could fix a hay baler, diesel engine, order a new header for your combine, and have a set of pack horses ready to hunt by 5. Although we are not the same sort of
people, my interest tended to rest in the administration, parts, and sales side of things, hers on the mechanical end, we both learned how to work hard.
We learned how to show up. My mom taught us this best. She never missed work unless it was something to do with raising kids. She was never passionate about tractors or agriculture, but was willing to do what she had to do for her family. We learned how to pave your own way through life. We learned how to hold our own. We learned to be smart and we learned a little bit about business just by pure absorption, if not by imitation and observation.
For about twelve years, ages six to eighteen, I grew up in the tractor industry of Weiser, Idaho on Commercial Street. As I type today, at age 40, how is it I hear the same harvest trucks hauling tail down the same road I did as a kid?
I make window displays and my own sales ventures with my own business and could sling a rock through the window of my parents old building while doing it. For the last five years, my shop has been at the corner of State and Commercial. Directly across from the place that started shaping me into the businessperson I am today.
The building that used to be my parents’, well, it’s painted over and been updated and split. The lot once covered in tractors and field equipment now contains used pieces of iron farm décor and old cars. The train depot rests behind the lot, the same proud posture she had when I was a kid.
And, if this isn’t enough to sweep my mind back to my formative years, in a wild twist of fate, just down the street, just past the McMullen building on the corner of 3rd and Commercial, my husband is now running a business, as of last month. I can feel myself, as a little girl, growing up in each of these places as I drive by and it is both profound and a little interesting that all these years later, my roots have once again been anchored so close to where they started.
The nostalgia gets to me. The irony of my husband and I running businesses directly across from my childhood, speaks to me. I’m trying to learn what I didn’t then. Trying to unravel the mystery and glean all I can from the memories. I never planned to have my shop here. I never planned to have my husband have a business in anywhere, much less in Weiser! Yet, here we are. Growing and thriving and trying to put all we have out there much like my parents did.
Time changes a lot. People and things and seasons will all come and go. Good and bad will happen. I sense the need to recognize that I see all these things working together for a greater purpose, even when I don’t realize it. That is the essence of what I am trying to explain today.
Even when you’re not in your element like a bull in a china shop, or a little girl in a tractor shop. Even when you later realize you were deceived into throwing cow poop at your cousins, you can still laugh, learn, and consume positive information that will kick in just when you need it. So many times in my life I fought where I was. I longed to be somewhere else, someone else. Little did I know how perfectly placed I have always been with purpose and a plan.
I haven’t always been able to reflect on my past with a heart of Thanksgiving. I haven’t always been able to express hope for my future. I haven’t always recognized or used the gift of writing that I have. It is my hope to finally grow into the woman the little girl racing around on Commercial Street wanted to be.
And, maybe more.