Woman School


(Cedarburg, WI, 2001) My husband, Bud, had a hero named Roger Welsch who for twelve years was a regular on Charles Kuralt’s CBS Sunday Morning. His segment was called: “Postcards from Nebraska.” Roger was a tractor collector and a rather ingenious writer. The main thesis of his books was the love of old tractors, their care and feeding, how to enjoy your shop and other strictly guy issues.

It’s a rare writer who can take a special interest and weave it into a television and book career. He wrote about life’s little happenings, made them interesting, laughable, and sometimes poignant. Maybe I had a hero too.

The titles of Roger’s past books are worth mentioning: Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them, Old Tractors Never Die and Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles.   Roger Welsch invaded my home again when Bud returned from a trip to the book store grinning like a kid on Christmas morning. A new treasure! Roger had outdone himself. His latest tome: Love, Sex and Tractors.

With this book, Roger had taken a new tack: the fine art of maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse and family, saving plenty of time to work on tractors and holding court in your shop. The new twist was Roger’s insistence that women, his wife included, had received covert training at something he called WOMAN SCHOOL.

He was certain his wife was a full tenured professor of the school. It seemed WOMAN SCHOOL taught secrets from the inner sanctum of the ladies’ room. Seminars included: “Giving Driving Directions from the Passenger Seat,” “Packing a Purse,” “Confusing the Idiots,” and “Unreasonable Demands.” According to Roger, all women had attended and graduated from the school, but were loath to admit its existence.

This book was Roger’s attempt to correct the imbalance and create a MAN SCHOOL. He concluded that “women will hate this book, not because they are excluded, not because it’s crude and insensitive, but because it challenges the exclusivity of gender training.”

So, I’d read it and Bud was happy I’d finally found something which also interested him. And I learned a lot. The most important thing was that there were other tractor nuts out there who acted, thought and talked just like Bud. I guess I’d always known that. After all, we’d spent years chasing across the countryside in search of old tractors; I’d spent hours listening to Bud’s side of a long phone conversation either from Clarence in Montana, Irwin in California, Herman in Iowa or Max in Saskatchewan.

Roger compared his venerated Tractor Hauling Trips (THT) to the Native American vision quest and insisted that heaven on earth is the Golden Moment of Departure (GMD) when he and his buddies hit the open road, smelled freedom and went out to haul a rusty, old tractor home. I found I could relate to this. Bud and I had often gone on THT’s (except ours were tractor hunting trips) and we also felt exhilarated at the GMD.

Writers are often encouraged to find their niche and Roger had done just that. With great success. In fact, he was so inspiring, I’d thought of writing a book dealing with the woman side of the tractor thing. I could call it: Women Who Love Men Who Love Old Tractors. Or Ten Ways Grousers Spark Up Relationships. Or, Manifolds of the Heart. Or, The Kama Sutra of Tractor Restoration. Something along that line.

Roger’s insights gave Bud and me a common language and a few more inside jokes.          So, as we headed off to Antigo to a tractor auction (hoping to see an Allis Chalmers M) we’d experienced together the GMD as we began our THT. We’d also decided to reveal to one another the secrets of our respective schools. No telling what the results could be. Will he become more sensitive? Will I become more tractor-savvy? Who knows.



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