American Glory


In the spring of 1960, Charlie Brady was in the back office balancing the books for Heinz Equipment when Ted Yandick came in and asked to speak with him. Charlie came out of the office and shook hands with the real life Marlboro Man. His hands were calloused from years of hard labor, his face bore the deep wrinkles of spending all day working in the hot sun; his boots were caked with layers of dirt. In all of the years that Charlie had known Ted Yandick, he had always looked the same; except that day he was smiling.

"What can I do for you Ted?"

"I've come to settle up."

"You must've had a pretty good month so far, you want to put a little extra on your account?"

In the years succeeding the Second World War, America had become that fabled land of Milk and Honey. At that time, more than half of Americans owned their own homes and many of them had six months' salary in a saving account. It was an age of Camelot, with a young president and his wife with movie star good looks. It was a time of prosperity for everyone except the farmers who actually made living in that fabled America possible. The good times seemed to pass them by, and every morning they rose with the sun, worked in the fields, and retired long after the moon came up. All to do it again the next day, and the next, until the day when the good Lord called them home. So when Adolph Heinz opened his equipment store he extended many farmers, Ted Yandick being one of them, credit knowing that they would pay him when they were able. "How much do you want to put on Ted?" Charlie asked.

"All of it."

Charlie knew Ted well enough to know that he wasn't the kind of man who ever took a handout, and when Adolph extended him credit, Ted didn't want to take it, but farming being in the state that it was, he was forced to accept. He paid off what he could, but like most farmers in the county, he was never ahead enough at the end of the month to ever make a dent in what he owed. So to say that it took Charlie by surprise when Ted's weather worn face broke into a smile, and said he was there to pay in full, would have been an understatement.

"Why don't you come back in the office for a minute Ted." Charlie led the old farmer into the small office and closed the door. "What do you mean you're going to pay all of it? You know that you don't have to, and forgive me for saying this, but I think we know each other well enough for me to be so blunt, how are you able to do that?"

"I don't have the farm anymore so I won't be needing any credit."

Charlie shook his head not comprehending what Ted was saying. "What do you mean you don't have the farm? Are you saying that the bank took it? Jesus Ted, if things were that bad you should have said something. I have a few friends at the bank I'm sure that they would have worked something out."

Ted Yandick let out a laugh, in his thick, rich baritone voice, that Charlie could feel in his stomach. "I didn't lose the farm, things have been bad lately, but not bad. I sold it."

"Sold it? You're kidding me. That farm has been in your family forever."

"That it has. But I was going to be the last Yandick to run it, my boys moved away years ago and they never had any interest in it anyway. I don't think they ever wanted to end up like me, not that I can blame them. So I sold it to some people who have this crazy idea to turn it into a golf course or something. I hope they have better luck with the land than I did these last few years. Everyone always told me that I would never become rich being a farmer, I guess they were right, I became rich when I decided to stop being a farmer."