This Is A Story About Darrel, A Gravel Road And A Big Orange Car
It happened more than a half-century ago.
I would be sitting outside that small ramshackle farmhouse we called home. I had a little cassette tape player/recorder and for hours and hours I would do pretend 'play-by-play' of my beloved Minnesota Twins. Harmon would step to the plate, first pitch outside, ball one. The windup and the pitch, swing and a miss. And then...KABOOM!...long drive to left, back, back, back...and gone! Twins up 1-0 and here comes Bob Allison to the plate.
And then I'd look up and see it coming down the dusty gravel road that led to our place.
A big orange car, probably a Ford LTD or something like it. Remember those LTD's back in the late 1960's? They seemed about a half-block long...and this one was bright orange.
My dad was a feed grinder back in the day, driving that truck from farm to farm, neighbor to neighbor grinding and mixing the corn, the oats, the alfalfa. And then (probably because the grinding/mixing wasn't exactly lucrative) he decided to become a feed dealer.
A Golden Sun Feed dealer.
He got an old semi trailer from my Uncle Hank, a trailer that wasn't fit for the travelin' road anymore, but plenty fine to store tons of Golden Sun Feed, 50 pound bags at a time. And each week that big orange car would come motoring down the gravel road and pull onto our driveway.
And Darrel Denney would step out.
Darrel worked for Golden Sun Feed out of Sioux Falls in those days. I don't know exactly what his title was and don't care. What he did was take our feed order and as if by magic a big orange truck would show up a couple/three days later with the 50 bags that went into that old semi trailer.
If it was orange, it was Golden Sun Feeds.
But what I remember most is Darrel's friendliness. I was 10, maybe 11 sitting out there playing and doing my pretend 'play-by-play'. He'd always stop and visit for maybe five or ten minutes. Then he'd say 'Your mom home?'. Yep. She'd give him the feed order, but not before coffee and cookies, maybe cake. If dad was home, he and Darrel would swap some friendly lies, maybe check out the feed grinder, just spend time.
That's what Darrel did. Oh, he did a great job (I know because my folks liked him a lot), but he also spent time.
Some years later I grew up and moved off that farm (And did a lot of real play-by-play...but alas, nothing for my beloved Twins). I had forgotten about those days when that big orange car would come down the road and out would step Darrel, petting our dog Sarge and giving a friendly wave.
And then those many years later, I was all grown up and in a cafe in Volga, South Dakota when a man walked up behind me and said, 'No, it can't be Randy?' I turned and it was Darrel. I may have forgotten, but he hadn't.
''Still doin' the play-by-play into that tape recorder?' he smilingly asked.
We talked for, I don't know, 15, maybe 20 minutes and then he had to go, and so did I.
That was the last time I saw Darrel Denney. He passed away in 2018.
There can be people that impact your life that, at the time, you don't realize. Darrel Denney was one of those people.
And I still see that big orange car rumbling down that dusty gravel road.
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