Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cotton Picker

My old pal Dave Szostek is moving to Corpus Christi.  I'd wish him luck, but I know he is going to love it. Today's column is in Dave's honor.
We moved to Corpus Christi when I left the Army in 1968, and I still have many fond memories - and a few, like Hurricane Celia, that are not so great - of living there.  I moved there to take a job as program director of KTOD, and until we moved our studios  to the Driscoll Hotel in town, I drove each morning to our AM transmitter between Sinton and Taft to sign the station on the air.
About a mile east of the station was an old hole-in-the-wall cafe where I would stop each morning for coffee.  At that time of the morning, the only people there were the cook and a table with four old farmers who were there every morning.  I thought those guys were older than dirt, but they were probably a few years younger than I am now. You couldn't tell from looking, but between them those fellows owned a large portion of Nueces and San Patricio Counties - huge spreads devoted to cattle and cotton.
Eventually, I was accepted as a regular and allowed to join their early morning conversations.
One day, one of the old men was complaining that he was going broke.  I asked what was wrong and he said he had a cotton picker broken down right at the peak of harvest. It had thrown a rod, and there were none available to rent.  A new one cost about a half million dollars. (I checked - a USED John Deer today sells for about $750,000) He said that broke down cotton picker was costing him $40,000 a day.
I had never made anywhere near 40k a year, so I didn't know what to say. 
I mumbled something about how that was really tough, and he replied, "Years ago, when I was your age, if I threw a rod in a cotton picker, it wouldn't cost more than two hundred dollars - and it wouldn't cost that unless I got her pregnant!" 

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