Flags Across the Harvest #19April 3, 2020
A hard row to hoe
In post-WW II rural America, it was common for almost every family to have some attachment to agriculture.
Often the family farm was not large enough to sustain all the financial needs of the entire clan, so an in-town job was acquired. But the lessons and roots of farm life were an intrinsic part of their being.
This was the case with the Bohacz Family during my youth and happily, still is today.
You do not need to be a full-time farmer to acknowledge how hard and challenging in every way the vocation is. But being part of a group that feeds not only America, but a good portion of the world is a noble and honorable profession. Even though many urbanites do not grasp the value of your contribution to society.
Growing up on a family farm meant that you were expected and not asked if you wanted to participate in the necessary chores. And you performed the tasks joyfully, acknowledging the true blessings they were in establishing your character and being part of a team effort.
As an aside to these labors, you learned the meaning of many common sayings (these may not be that common in today’s suburbia though) since they were forged in country living.
After hand weeding crops, you fully understood what a hard row to hoe meant. Likewise, walking in high cotton (a bountiful harvest that was up high and did not require much effort to pick), living high on the hog (the better meat is up higher on a swine), make hay while the sun shines (take advantage of the opportunity since rain will not allow hay to be cut and will ruin bales already made) and what is in the well will come up in the bucket (a person cannot hide their values when examined beyond the surface).
My upbringing also allowed me to fully understand the innuendoes that made the Beverly Hillbillies so funny while dreaming about my first crush, Ellie Mae Clampett.
Thus, for one to truly appreciate the result of any effort in life, you will need to have had some exposure to that circumstance.
Recently, I watched the 1968 Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt. It was sent to me a while back as a gift from my friend.
Well known for its car chase scene between a 1968 Mustang and Charger, many acknowledge it as the gold standard for the type of action almost every car enthusiast loves.
None of the modern hyped up and phony Fast and The Furious type of car follies, but real American iron with breaker points, carburetors and bias-ply tires driven to the hilt.
It has been about forty years since I watched this movie, so I only had a vague memory of what transpired.
Sitting with giddy anticipation as the Charger and Mustang were introduced into the cast, with every breath, I hoped for the chase to begin.
The truth be known, I liked the Charger better than McQueen’s Mustang. The full wheel covers, whitewall tires, black paint and vinyl roof hid the fury that was residing under the hood.
Also, the exhaust note of the Ford sounded like garbage — not enough compression and cam overlap with either glass packs or no mufflers at all.
The Charger sounded factory mean. The rumble from its two pipes contrasting its conservative wheels and bodywork.
The precursor to the chase gave no hint of the explosive action by the Dodge.
To those of you that may not remember, the Mustang is following a car or two behind the Charger, both being driven regularly. Next, the bad guys in the Dodge buckle their seat belts, and you just know that it is ready to happen.
Then, from the right lane, the Charger hooks extreme left, cutting off another car and heading down a street at a right angle to where McQueen was.
To most, that scene was not that spectacular but allowed me the opportunity to examine it in a different light.
What really excited me about the Charger’s initial break away from the Ford was the throttle response of the Mopar.
The car was cruising very slowly on a side street (idle circuit and just entering the main metering circuit of the carburetor). Then out of nowhere – WHACK, all four-barrels were open without warning, anticipation, or mercy.
The Mopar jumped to attention with the sweetest combination of expanding exhaust gases and the dynamics of cylinder filling that one could ask for.
To my way of thinking, the rest of the chase scene was just Hollywood fare. Still, that throttle response had me rewinding to experience it repeatedly.
Having tuned many engines, I much appreciated the accomplishment of the Charger in that scene.
It was an action that most certainly the film director and producer never really acknowledge as the great moment it was.
Only an engine guy would recognize all the things that would have to happen perfectly to produce that instant jump in power. And without a complaint from the carburetor, ignition coil, advance curve, valve train, and fuel pump.
The Mopar went from light throttle cruise to peak volumetric efficiency in a split second. And it did it perfectly.
Knowing what a hard row to hoe that accomplishment was, made me tip my hat to the Chrysler and Carter engineers that designed that powertrain and ancillary components. The UAW members that bolted it all together and the tuner who put his magic into that Mopar. With a combination of automotive grease and field dirt under my fingernails, I can say with confidence that when it comes to tuning an engine, those boys were eating high on the hog!