Sunday, October 19, 2008

Farewell To A Friend

My good friend, Sydney Clyde Tate, died last weekend at the age of 86. I knew Clyde most of my life.  He lived about 1.2 miles from me and for the past twenty-eight years he and I have been close.  I visited his home and farm severals times each year, usually in the summer. Other times we saw one another in a nearby diner where locals gather to visit, eat, or drink coffee.

I photographed Mr. Tate about six years ago before his health began to decline. He was standing in his barnyard when he posed for the picture above. For more than twenty years I rented his rake to roll sun-cured fescue into "windrows" in preparation for Clyde to follow with his tractor and baling machine to compress the forage into rectangular bales.  He provided these services to me for those years two or three times per summer.  This calculates to over 40 harvests of hay in which he helped.  He always was ready when I decided to harvest based on the weather and my office job vacation days.  It seemed that his schedule was whatever time I suggested.   He never put me off for another day or later week.  His cooperation was unique and I almost always paid him more than he requested.

The pictures below show the hay on my fields ready to bale in June 2003.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them for a closer view.

Clyde possessed a reputation of honesty, a responsible citizen, good neighbor, war veteran, unpretentious, and clean talk.  He was easily brought to smiles and laughter.  Neighborhood elementary school teachers sometimes brought students to his farm to ride ponies. Clyde worked hard throughout his life on the farm and later as a rural mail carrier.  His hands were big and rough with thick palms and large fingers.  

He liked people and people liked Clyde.  He enjoyed giving "Moon Star" watermelons to neighbors and friends which were grown in his gardens with other produce.

I will miss my friend and will always have fond memories of our relationship.

Have a good week!


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