Efforts for readying the machinery for another season of lawn care prompted re-posting of this article for the enjoyment of those who know little of the days “Back When.”
For most of my young life, I was forced to spend most of my waking hours applying the teachings from early childhood that grass was evil and all means were to be exercised to eradicate this scourge from the face of the earth.
Our livelihoods depended on the ridding of the fields of this prolific deterrent to the health of the young, tender plants on which we depended for food as well as income.
The abhorrence that we held for grass in the crops was carried over into the yards of most farms. Hours were spent in hoeing, raking and smoothing the entire yards with brush-brooms that were nothing more than dogwood branches which had been allowed to dry until all the leaves had fallen from them.
They were then tied into small bundles. These so-called brooms left the yards with a clean, swept look that everyone considered appropriate for a well cared-for homestead.
As time passed, the thinking of many farmers changed in favor of customs that were practiced by their uptown neighbors, and they began to cultivate within the confines of the yards, the same grasses that they worked so hard to remove from their fields.
It became evident that a way to control the growth of this grass would have to be found, hence, the Sling-Blade, was invented. A strip of flat metal that was sharpened on both sides and mounted to a handle by means of two metal bars shaped at a 45 degree angle.
This tool, when used properly, would allow the operator to clip the tops from the grasses with a back and forth swinging motion.
Necessity for an easier and faster way to keep the grass in control prompted the invention of a series of blades, powered by cogs attached to wheels. These blades were positioned in a way that forced them to contact a sharpened bar, creating a cutting motion when pushed through the grass by the operator, holding onto a “ T“ shaped handle.
This reel-type mower was used extensively until the invention of a small gasoline engine which could be attached to the top of this contraption and served as the power to not only turn the blades but could also self-propel the mower by belts and pulleys.
Eventually, this mower gave way to the modern rotary, power mower that is still in use today in many forms. Although the engines power a spinning blade that does the cutting, much effort is required by the operator to push the mower through the grass.
As more powerful engines were developed and easier ways to perform this laborious chore were sought, the invention of the modern-day ‘riding-mower’ changed our lives as much as any innovation in history.
Instead of struggling with sling-blades, push type, and self-propelled mowers, we now can sit in a somewhat comfortable seat and simply drive the mower to the designated area and relax as it performs the work for us. Along with these power tools came a different designation of the areas around our homes.
We now refer to the grassy carpets that surround our houses and require so much of our time as lawns instead of yards. No more do we cut the grass. Now we mow. “Even sounds better: Right?”
As a result of these innovative machines, our lives have been made easier and our waistlines have become larger; but I for one, would not relish the thoughts of returning to the days of swept yards and / or sling blades.
Now; that we have a nice,comfortable, way to “MOW.” We will be forced to revert to the “Sling-Blade” again, because of the rising cost of FUEL. Dj.