A few years ago (55, maybe 60) Sylvia & I helped uncles Dwight & Ves haul hay. Their old truck loaded looked a lot like the one on the left below. It had a loader hooked to the side to run the bales up to the bed of the truck.
Sylvia got to steer the truck because her legs were long enough to reach the clutch & break. I walked ahead lining up the hay bales so they would feed into the loader just right. Ves & Dwight rode the bed to stack the hay.
The truck had a “compound” gear – a very low-low low gear. It would creep along without her giving it any gas at all & across any terrain. We went round & round the hayfield till the load was topped-off.
They would tie the load down with ropes across the hay, front to back, cinched tightly down to the bumpers. Sylvia & I got to ride the several miles back to the hay barn on top of the hay directly over the truck’s cab.
I can’t ever recall a more enjoyable ride down the highway (& byway) than with the wind blowing the sweat away sitting on top of those bales. We held onto the tie down rope but I cannot ever remember fearing anything except the occasional electric line passing low overhead.
Sylvia reminded me not long ago that we drank our first beer riding down the road up on top. One evening, just at dark & after a brutal long hot summer day of hay hauling, we stopped at Crowell’s store. Crowell’s was an old-fashioned country store where ice boxes were literally boxes with ice in them to keep perishable foods cool and drinks cold.
My uncles would buy themselves a beer & pop for Sylvia & I to celebrate the end of a long days work. On that evening though, Uncle Dwight handed up beer to us saying that we had earned it this day.
So, there we rode down the road, two pre-teens, after a very long hot day, on top of a huge load of hay, waving at passing cars, horse-drawn wagons, & pedestrians both on foot and one horses, and drinking our first beer. Sometimes things just don’t get any better.
Now the question might arise, was this not an exceedingly dangerous way for two kids to ride down the road? Probably, but I do not care. I always thought it was a lot safer than walking along all day in front of a big old loaded truck with cousin Sylvia driving it.