WWII veteran and toddler bond over tomatoes and become best friends

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 08, 2014
and last updated 2016-11-02 13:22:08-04

For nearly a decade the Rychner family had little interaction with the man living next door.

There would be the occasional wave or smile until the family's 3-year-old son, Emmett, struck up a friendship with the 89-year-old neighbor, Erling, according to ABC News.

The pair bonded over tomatoes after Emmett would continually go up to Erling and ask, "Got any 'matoes?" according to the ABC report.

Eventually a friendship developed. Erling taught the 3-year-old how to fix a bike, throw a baseball and even race tractors. Erling rode around in his real tractor, while the young boy rode around in his miniature version.

The boy's parents said the friendship has been great for their son, whose great-grandmother passed away last year.

"To him, Erling is like a grandpa," the boy's mother told ABC.

Read more: 89-year-old WW11 vet, toddler become best friends (ABC NEWS)

Now the pair will be separated as the 3-year-old's family will be moving to a bigger house in Dundas, Minn. Erling will also be making a move, putting his house up for sale as he heads to a senior housing complex.

"He first said, 'It's OK. I know you want to move to a neighborhood with more kids,'" she recalled. "Before I could tell him that was not why we were moving, he said, 'It won't be long before there is a 'Sale' sign on my yard. I am not young anymore," reports ABC.