Tom’s Snow Blower

My neighbor Tom built his snow blower using parts from a hammer mill, the bull wheel of a grain binder, split three-inch well casing, and the blower pipe from a grain thresher. Powered it with the pony engine off a silage chopper. When conditions were right, it’d throw snow over the roof of his house. In the book “Visiting Tom,” I wrote:

It’s a horrifying machine close up. You can stretch both arms and not come close to spanning the intake. The uppermost reach of the paddles is nearly sternum high. You imagine a safety inspector from OSHA dropping in a dead faint atop his clipboard. In action, the paddles whirl invisibly fast, scooping the snow and hurling it up the chute to arc across the sky. “It’s fun when you get a nice overnight snow with a lot of ice crystals in it,” says Tom. “You blow that snow on a sunny morning, it looks like Ol’ Faithful!”

These days Tom has retired the snowblower. A good next-door neighbor plows his driveway for him. The world spins on–I’m grateful I’ve been allowed to collect up a few of its stories.

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