News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


February 2, 2013

RONN MOTT: Grandfathers

I watched a TV commercial the other day where a man took his son and grandson fishing. (There are actually many commercials like this one on TV.) In this one, the fish is caught and released. I was reminded I never once went fishing with my grandfather.

He was rather silent when it came to me. And I suppose a lot of that was the great difference in our ages. The year I was born John E. Mott would only have 12 years left on this earth. Considering the fact I did not live with him and was not terribly communicative the first five years of my life, it wasn’t too surprising to learn I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and jaw with Grandpa Mott.

He was born in Kansas at the end of the 19th century and his family was driven off their homestead by either bad weather or a locust plague. I never learned the actual reason. But, at the age of 9, he and his older sister drove what remained of their livestock all the way from Kansas to Indiana. The rest of the family traveled in a wagon to get to their destination. It’s not surprising Grandpa grew up to be a very good horseman and handler of livestock. He settled in western Indiana.

When I came into the picture, the family was living in Newport and they would move to a larger farm of their own about three years after I was born. I did not know at the time but the first house I had memory of was the house they left before going to a farm just north of Hillsdale.  

It was here I occasionally got some spoken words out of Grandpa. There was an old, rusting John Deere with its front wheels against the side of the horse barn, the one nearest the house, and that site was quite visible to the house. I would learn later Grandpa was driving the tractor and had run it into the side of the barn all the time yelling, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” And the tractor set there and spun its wheels until the motor died.

So, one Sunday years later looking at the tractor I asked Grandpa, a man who farmed with horses and mules, why he didn’t farm with the tractor. He was whittling and spit, (I don’t believe Grandma allowed him to chew in the house) paused and said to me, “Well, Ronnie, you see, you can’t whip a tractor.” Even though I was barely in school, I understood that logic completely.

Grandpa pulled the old trick on me when I was a preschooler by informing me if I put salt on a bird’s tail it would stand there and let me catch it. I spent one entire afternoon after Sunday dinner trying desperately to put salt on the tails of the many birds in the yard. I was not successful. I think it’s the hardest I ever saw Grandpa laugh … me chasing around the yard with a salt shaker in my hand.

Later on, he would tell me about a tornado he tried to out-run when he was on horseback. He informed me he and the horse got swept into the vortex of the tornado and Grandpa would get dropped into a tree where he was banged up, bruised, and with some cuts and scratches. The horse was never found. I didn’t believe him, but since television has brought us graphic pictures of tornadoes and their power, the story certainly could be true.

I never got to go fishing with John Elmer Mott, but he left me with lasting memories. That quiet old man who chewed (chawed) tobacco and farmed with horses and mules would not only disappear from my life, but that type of man would disappear totally from American life.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Obama Signs Workforce Training Law WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010