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The Christmas Tractor (part 12)

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I boarded my Amtrak train at the Historic Union Station in New Haven, CT.  At one time the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad was one of the largest railroads in the country. My first stop was at Penn Station in New York City.  After changing trains to the Lake Shore Limited, it was on to South Bend. I decided to ride coach and I enjoyed the scenery along Lake Erie and the mid-west. When my train arrived at the South Bend depot, Mr. Pond was waiting for me.  He was very excited to get right to work and thus we got right to it. Our first stop was at the original garage where he and Elmer manufactured their own tractors. I'll never forget the how owner' facial expression when we explained why we were there. While there, Cecil told me many, many stories about their experiences while at the garage. We even came across some molds that were used to manufacture Pond Wheel Horse parts. Imagine how I felt, being at this garage with the man who actually put these tractors together? Mr. Pond scoured the garage like Inspector Clusseau until he found what he was looking for.  The red paint still remained on the wall where the tractors were painted.

 

After about an hour, we headed over to Dixie Way North. We passed Chandler's Power Equipment and then arrived at the site of the first factory. It was so gratifying to see the smile on Cecil's face. I could hardly contain myself, but focused on my predetermined questions as we drove over to Mary Dianelli's house. Mary was hilarious!  She knew the facts as well as Mr. Pond and even added some information. She instantly took me under her wing as in her words, " The only two Italian Americans in all of South Bend".

 

We enjoyed a nice working lunch and then headed to Ireland Rd.  Prior to my arrival, Mr, Pond contacted the new owner of the factory building and set up a private tour. Now, keep in mind that this factory is huge, but can't  be fully appreciated until you are inside it with Cecil Pond himself.  As we walked the building, my mind morphed into visions of Wheel Horse tractors coming down the assemble line and parts flying overhead on tracks headed to several places. Off in one corner we saw rolls of steel 20 ft in diameter, and Cecil explained that is also how he received the steel.

 

Next stop was an indoor electronic golf driving range. Mr. Pond was an avid golfer and he invested in this state of the art concept.  Along our journey he pointed out several important land marks and then took me to the beautiful campus of Notre Dame University.  Our final stop was the cemetery where his parents and in-laws were all buried.

 

That evening, we dressed in jacket and tie for dinner as Mrs. Pond served a scrumptious meal of Orange Roughy. Orange Roughy is a variety of deep sea perch. The fish was dressed with capers and was one of the most delicious fish that I have ever had.

 

The next day, we sifted through box upon box of family pictures. The pictures were all loose and damaged by water. Many photos were stuck together and it appeared that it was going to be a lot of work.  That entire day, I worked at trying to salvage the Pond family's memories.  After organizing the boxes for hours, I was able to locate many pictures that are in the book.  Now, for some reason, I didn't notice a framed picture on the wall in a small hallway until I was leaving. I knew that this photo had to be in my new book.  Even though my train was to depart in 90 minutes, Mr. Pond rushed me over to a professional photo lab, where they produced a giant negative of the now famous photo of Cecil Pond and Bob Hope.

 

Check back soon for more of The Christmas Tractor.

 

Merry Christmas,

 

Michael Martino

Edited by Rideawayjunior1
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That has to be one awesome memory, I remember my first meeting also. He was Definitely a Great and very admired man by many

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Thank You for sharing your story Michael! It adds so much to the great books that you have written! I know this sounds weird, but it almost makes me feel like I am there with you and Cecil! Have read all 12 parts of your story and really enjoying it alot! Keep them coming! ;)

 

Thanks Again,

Taylor aka The Wheel Horse Kid

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Holy cow, this is amazing...... there's a train from NY to South Bend?  Seriously, I am enjoying the stories!

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