This is the stuff that fires your imagination and also makes you wonder why we can’t clean up Beit Shemesh for example if these guys can spend a couple of years restoring a clock. Imagine a clandestine commando operation to clear our city of litter, plant waste land or remove grafitti and advertising bills from walls. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound as romantic as restoring a landmark in one of the World’s prime cities.
It also reminds me of a lovely story book my children have called HaTraktor BeArgaz HaHol (or in English – the tractor in the sandbox). The story is about aging and tells the story of an elderly kibbutznik “uncle” Aharon and his red tractor.
Aharon and the tractor retire and their place is taken by a young tractor driver and his fancy new tractors. The tractor is taken to the kindergarten where it becomes a climbing frame in the sandbox. The well-meaning kindergarten teacher repaints the tractor in bright colors with flowers and butterflies and the children play on the tractor every day. The tractor resigns itself to its new status as a piece of furniture but Aharon doesn’t. He comes in every night and secretly renovates the tractor until one day when the children arrive in the morning they find that there is a “real” tractor standing where their “toy” one had been before. From that day on”Uncle” Aharon and the tractor get a new job to bring the children to the kindergarten in the morning and take them on rides to the fields to show them where they once worked.
I always wondered how Aharon manages to come in every night and renovate his tractor without everyone noticing. I’m still not sure how he does it, but he must have taken lessons from the Untergunther.