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Jun012009

My Ode to Dad Upon Selling the Shop

June 1, 2009

On June 1, 2009, my Dad, Chuck Plank, ends 46 years of ownership of Plank Implement, the farm equipment dealership he began in Columbus City, Iowa. Although he has sold the shop, Dad will remain as manager. Obviously, the shop has been an important part of our family’s life for as long as I can remember. My Grandpa Ray (Dad’s dad) worked there for many years. Mom worked there keeping books in the early years. We three siblings—Jodie, Andy, and I—all had our first jobs there, sweeping floors, taking inventory of the parts, or my favorite, filling the pop machine. On May 30, his employees past and present honored him at a party marking this transition. I read this poem to mark the occasion:

After nearly fifty years an era now will change

As my dad Chuck has sold his shop and so will now arrange

To cut back on his work some, a feat that I’d expect

To be like saying, “Hey, giraffe, cut back some on your neck!”

 

Dad opened up Plank Implement when he was 25

I would have liked to see that, but I was not alive

For me, the shop was always there, throughout my childhood

It financed baby shoes and clothes and toys and school and food

 

I wondered what the dream was that motivated Dad

But his passion never wavered, he always seemed quite glad

To help a farmer broken down in corn or beans or hay

To find the proper part for him, no matter time of day

 

He put in many hours, from ’63 to now

His pickups traveled graveled miles, often hooked to plows

He bartered, sold, and traded as he talked upon the phone,

“Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, you bet, bye, bye,” he would intone

 

On family trips, Dad always slowed way down as we came near

A lot with lots of farm machines. This always gave us fear

’Cause he’d crane his neck, drive off the road, til Mom helped with a shove,

“You know we have the same machines in our back yard, my love.”

 

I’ve never heard my Dad complain, although he had good reasons:

Farm crises and recessions, dusty droughts and floody seasons

They brought down other dealers, it was an economic blow

And how Dad’s shop survived all that, I really do not know

 

As a kid, I grew up in the shop, though near the pop machine

Where Grandpa Ray would sometimes sneak a coin to me unseen

And we three kids all took our role in the family works

We built wagons, then we took our separate turns at greasing zerks

 

I worked there sweeping floors and burning trash and counting parts

(It’s glamorous and I know you all are eating out your hearts.)

Dad also used connections and his influential means

To hook me up with farmers seeking help with walking beans

 

And though I grew up in the shop, it was a mystery

(And 40-some years later, not a lot has changed, you’ll see)

I didn’t share Dad’s passion for power farm equipment

I preferred the pen to plow and learning what a funny quip meant

 

Still, I admire what my Dad’s done and what he’s going to do

And though I’m not just like my dad, his DNA comes through

I have an instinct that I’ve fought, though it’s become routine

I must slow down and crane my neck to view lots with farm machines

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