Who”™s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

We were plowing off Watson Road in Guelph, just south of the dump, decades ago now. Six cylinders of Case diesel power purred along towing 5-18’s. It was a glorious day for any young guy that loved tractors.

The sun shone bright turning the previous year’s stubble a golden hue. As the soil flipped over, it revealed an underbelly so black and rich a good crop would surely grow. Along with ample power and air conditioning, it was the first tractor we ever drove with a radio. It was stuck on 820 CHAM, which at the time was an AM country station out of Hamilton.

That day was the first time we heard George Jones sing Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes. The song was about 14 great singers of the past, who would be hard to replace – if even possible to replace. Few could sing like old George, who himself passed away a little over a year ago. With time on our hands, spending the rest of the afternoon turning furrows, we thought a bunch about change and the notion that some people are hard to replace.

As spring heads into summer, our print division is kept busy printing annual booklets for fair groups and the local plowing match.

This year while reviewing some of our work, we noticed remembrances of the many volunteers who have passed away or been forced to retire.

It used to be that every spring we would see the same people, dropping by with material for their new book. When completed they would come by and get their finished product.

Over the years friendships developed and many of the names mentioned in the various thank-you ads this year were champions of community in their own right.

Such an example exists, of business turned friendship, with Les Darrington, who passed away earlier this week. He was a plowman, a shrewd farmer, a partner and husband, a father, a grandfather, great-grandfather and much of what most men should hope to be. He was a decent man, dedicated to family and organizations that embodied his vocation.

It is perhaps the greatest compliment when others wonder aloud, even for a moment, “How will anyone fill those shoes?”