There has been an incredible amount of hullabaloo over the years regarding the Star Wars saga.
     Star Wars has been a hugely popular film series about folks from another planet who zip around the cosmos and battle the computer-generated forces of evil all while laying the groundwork for their next sequel. It is like a documentary about the lives of politicians.     
     I think that Star Wars owes its success to one essential ingredient: a solid storyline. Think about it. You have got your good versus evil, your boy meets girl and your “That popcorn is way too salty. Give me a sip of your soda or you can kiss these Milk Duds goodbye.”     
     Perhaps my favorite Star Wars storyline involves the coming of age theme. An untested young man. An older guy (not the boy’s father) who senses the youth’s hidden potential. Toss them both into some sort of dire predicament, shake well, and ta-da. You’ve got yourself a blockbuster.     
     For me, such an older guy – my personal Obi-Wan, if you will – was my dad’s uncle, Stanley.     
    Stanley was Norwegian bachelor farmer, a man who was unencumbered by such falderal as a wife and children. You could not have found a better role model for an impressionable young farm boy.     
     For example, Stanley showed me the proper way to comport oneself in the face of embarrassing digestive issues. When I was about 11 years old, Stanley was at our place to help out on our neighborhood baling crew. We would always shut down at noon for dinner. Afterwards, the baling crew would lounge for a spell in the shade of the trees to let the meal settle.     
    We were taking such an after-dinner recess when the distinctive sound of wind being broken came from Stanley’s direction. “I think we’re in for a rain,” Stanley said calmly as he peered at the cloudless sky. “I just heard thunder.”     
     The lesson was clear: never say excuse me or oops if you can change the subject instead.     
     As the baling crew continued to chat, the topic of age came up. I asked Stanley who among his 13 siblings was the oldest. Stanley said he was.
     “That isn’t true,” Dad retorted. “You’re the youngest.”
     “That may be so,” replied Stanley without batting an eye. “But, I’ve lived so much faster than the others.”     
     Aha. Another metaphorical nugget to tuck into my pocket: find an age you like and stick to it.     
     Perhaps the most significant effect Stanley had upon me happened at the end of that day. We had finished baling at our farm and Stanley told Dad he needed someone to help him get his tractor and his pickup back to his farm. Stanley said he sure wished there was a man available for such an important mission. And as he said that, he looked right at me.     
     I did not have to be asked twice or even once, for that matter.
     “I’ll do it,” I exclaimed as I jumped up and down. “I’ll drive your tractor home for you Stanley.”     
    Dad expressed some reservations as I had little experience with driving a tractor in road gear. He finally relented after I promised I would be extra careful and take it slow.     
     I felt extremely manly as I piloted Stanley’s “H” Farmall out our driveway and onto the gravel road. I hoped my seven siblings were watching so they could see how important I had become.     
     Stanley lived 5 miles from our farm. Fourth gear on an “H” is ... well, it is OK out in the field but seems awfully slow on the road. I became so bored that I took to counting pebbles on the shoulder of the road.     
     I began to mentally debate the definition of slow. Maybe it meant fifth gear throttled way down. As I crested the first hill, I slipped the “H” into fifth and dumped the clutch. The little tractor shot ahead like a goosed jackrabbit.     
     “Whoa,” I thought, suddenly realizing I had neglected to throttle down. As the “H” flew down the road, an incredible feeling began to well up inside me.     
     When Stanley’s farm hove into sight, I shifted the tractor back into fourth gear. I slowly and casually putted onto Stanley’s farmstead and parked the “H” near his machine shed. Stanley sauntered over and casually inquired if I had enjoyed driving in fifth gear.     
     I felt transformed, suddenly much older and very Jedi-like. “I think you’re right,” I said, glancing at the sky. “I think it might rain. I certainly experienced a lot of thunder on my way over here.”
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.