When I think of this week's subject, tractors immediately come to mind! Each year, hubby and I can't wait for Labor Day weekend to view Dale Hockersmith's yard full of old tractors. Of course, tractors aren't what Dale is all about, but his eyes do twinkle when he talks about that particular subject.

Guess it's natural that Dale loves this type of equipment, as he grew-up on a farm. In fact, when I asked Dale what he had been involved with in his high school career at New Market, he answered something like this, "Not really anything because all I wanted to do was hustle home to help on the farm!"

Dale still has that enthusiasm for the touch of the soil. We even postponed our interview because Dale was out disking. So, we met on a rainy day, but that's okay because I had great fun talking with Dale. He told me that he pays a certain amount per acre to have the planting and harvesting done, but that he still has his hand in some of the work.

As I noted, Dale loves tractors. His first tractor he purchased was a 1948-B John Deere. His oldest is a 1935 B John Deere, but Dale says, "I have all kinds - Farmall, Allis-Chalmers, Case, you name it."

He used to do the mechanic work on all of them, but several months ago, he had a bad accident breaking a leg, thus it's a bit harder to crawl around fixing things. The last tractor, as of now, Dale purchased for his collection was a 1950 Farmall Super A.

What new bit of information I discovered about Dale's tractors is that he has a toy model for each of his larger ones. He had a grin on his face when he pointed-out the three well-used tractors that he had played with as a boy. That was really nifty, but I was especially thrilled to see a little green and white one my father, Fred Bazzani, had made Dale.

I know Dale through his hobby, but most people have run across him in a different capacity, his ownership of the local Puritan. Actually, we've done some wonderful business there, too. When I asked Dale how he got interested in that job, he noted that it was simple. Seeing no real future in working for Citizens Coal & Supply, his current job, Dale answered a want ad and was soon installing and servicing Puritan water softeners.

This was in July of 1965 and when the owner wanted to sell out in January 1975 Dale jumped at the chance. He purchased the manufacturing side in July of that year. The next year he incorporated the business to Puritan Water Conditioning, Inc. Sons Jeff and Gary had worked for Dale right out of high school and have both been in the business for over 25 years now. Dale retired in 2007 and is enjoying every minute of it.

Along with the boys, Dale and his lovely wife, Sandy, have a daughter, Lynn Bowman who works for a local eye doctor and has three of the Hockersmith's seven grandchildren. Speaking of family, another interesting piece of Dale's life is how he met Sandy Harshbarger. It was early in December at a Christmas party in 1963. She definitely caught his eye, but Dale waited until the beginning of 1964 before asking her out because, "I didn't want to buy her a Christmas present!"

Sandy had her own story to tell about meeting Dale. When she was in second or third grade, out at recess, a nonverbal voice popped into her head, saying, "You will marry a man named Clifford who is a pilot!" Always remembering that, when she discovered Dale's first name was Clifford and that he flew, she figured he was her God-send. It certainly all worked out, because they will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year.

So, that is a hint that airplanes are another Hockersmith interest as Dale did just that for over a quarter of a century. Dale laughed indicating that it was a natural thing since he grew-up on the east side of the airport and has lived on the west side the rest of his life. He also went-up with his cousin, Basil man times and simply loved it! Loved it so much that he not only received his private license, but commercial and industrial ones, as well. Often, he'd take the seats out of the plane and put in a softener for delivery. The solo was in an old Cub with top speed of 70 and while flying over a main road, the trucks went faster than Dale. Sandy was a frequent passenger of course. Also, Dale took many babies up on their first flight, really from babies to 80-year-olds. Son Jeff did some flying, as well.

On Dale's bucket list was a train ride. Not too long ago, he did just that leaving from Crawfordsville then on to Tucson, Ariz.. Dale has seen most of the U.S. states, picking up a couple more on that trip. Another item on that bucket list is to see them all.

When I asked Sandy what drew her to Dale, it was because she felt safe and still does. She went on to say that, "He's such a gentleman."

Amen to that and I certainly want to thank Dale for letting me hang out with him and featuring bits of his life this week in Around The County!