I haven't reached a conclusion yet as to how I feel about these remote-controlled lawnmowers. I watch them do their thing on TV while the man of the house sits in the shade sipping lemonade, and I question.

Would I trust one of them to ring around the flower bed where my lovely lilies are just getting established? ...or to stay away from entanglements that would win the battle and destroy the expensive machine?

I must admit that I feel some injustice related to the mowers. When I think of all the sweat and muscle strain that I have given over my lifetime to control the weed and grass growth in the yard, I get the urge to throw rocks at such a labor-saving tool that has come on the scene too late for me to use and enjoy.

I could also rationalize and say that this modern invention robs us of the personal satisfaction of a job well done.

There is pleasure in surveying a freshly mowed lawn, all trimmed and reflective of a nicely maintained home. Pushing a two-wheel mower back and forth through tough grass was hard work, but the final results could be seen and appreciated as my work. However, if the truth be told, I was so worn out by the time the job was finished that I most often shoved the mower in the shed and didn't look back.

As of yet, I haven't met one of these advanced mowing wonders face to face. I might fall in love at first sight, but I'll bet a glance at the price tag would turn me off.

On my bookshelves is a reproduction printing of the 1908 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog. I looked in there to compare prices. Pictured were three models, all resembling the one I pushed during the summers of the 1940s. The most economical model could be ordered for $2.45. Can you believe that? The "best mower you could buy" went for $9.50--"guaranteed, adjustable, noiseless, easy running, ball bearing construction."

The value of a dollar was vastly different in those days of course, but dollar bills were very scarce. On the facing page of the catalog was a selection of grass hooks, second choice for the shopper who couldn't afford a mower. The lightest weight hook, but strong and durable, sold for fourteen cents. The top-of-the-line steel scythe grass hook and lawn trimmer was twenty-three cents, "no better hook made." More elbow grease was required to slay the grass and weeds than with the push mower, but if that was all you had, you made it work.

If a twenty-first-century robotic mower and a curved scythe blade with a wood handle met each other, they would never guess that they sprang from the same family tree with the same job to do.