That's an air compressor. Really. My father made it from spare parts. It looks funky, but it was an air compressin' sombitch and never failed to respond. Huffin' and chuffin', spraying paint, with a blue collar frenzy. Sometimes, when Poppa was at work, I would crank it up just to hear the racket and feel it pulse, and fantasize about the possibilities with such a wondrous machine.
The ground beneath the compressor, on the 9th of June 1863, was torn and trampled by the hooves of twenty thousand cavalry during the battle of Brandy Station, opening engagement of the Gettysburg campaign. Each day at home, whether mowing the yard or pulling weeds in the garden or playing softball in the back lot, I felt the tremors from that day. Angry forces ranging for a mile or two in all directions. Blue and gray uniforms alike obscured by sticky dust and perspiration and blood. Confederate against Confederate. Union against Union. Right here, underfoot.
My father built the old barn, too, with enthusiasm but meager help from me. I hid contraband cigarettes, Lucky Strikes, behind the gray box on the wall behind the compressor.
Title: © Poppa's Air Compressor. r0040-23
Series: Old Home Place
Location: Brandy Station, Virginia
Date: Thursday 31 May 1984