fiwit's blog: Restored and Repainted Memories

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 9:51 AM

There was an old tractor show at the local Farmers' Market today, so I went.  It's been a LONG time since I've had anything to do with any tractors larger than a small riding mower, but just thinking about them started me traipsing down memory lane.

When I was 13, we bought some property  "in the country." In our case, "the country" was about 20 miles south of the capitol city I grew up in. Friends of ours had bought an old farmhouse there, and told Dad that he should buy some of the land next to them and we could be neighbors.  At that point, our future home was still a soybean field.  Mom and Dad thought it was a grand idea, and we wound up going into partnership with a couple friends and buying 30 acres together. One acre of that was the lot for our home, and the rest was a combination of pasture and oats/corn that could be used to feed the steers we'd buy at spring auction and butcher over Christmas break.  We fenced off a section of land where we could pen the steers for the last couple months before moving them to the barn. And then there was the garden...the LARGE garden.

At 13, I did not fully appreciate the benefits of our huge garden - all I knew was that it was a ton of work to keep it watered, weeded, and de-bugged.  And because we didn't live there yet, we would get up on summer mornings and drive the 30-45 minutes from our house to "the garden," and wind up doing all the work there during the heat of the day. I think that's where I developed my life-long aversion to weeding. *chuckle*

But one of the benefits that I *did* appreciate was the tractors. Dad and Don went to the local auctions and came home with a couple "vintage" machines...an Oliver that needed to be cranked to be started, a rusted-red Massey-Harris, and an old John Deere.  I was considered too young/too small to drive the Massey-Harris, but the John Deere was within my abilities.

I could not begin to tell you the year/model of it, but I remember that the throttle was a lever on or above the steering column, that one pedal was a brake and another the clutch, and that the gear shift was temperamental.  The seat cover was cracked and peeling, weathered by the elements, and the tractor had a distressing habit of popping wheelies because it didn't have enough weight at the front of it.  Because of that, there were things I wasn't allowed to do, like plow or disc, in case it somersaulted while I was driving it (it did for Dad, a couple times).

To shift gears, you had to come to almost a complete stop, shift the gears, and then increase throttle while easing off the clutch to avoid inadvertent wheelies.  I have to admit, when I learned how to drive Dad's pickup truck with its "three on the tree," it took me awhile to get out of the habit of slowing down for each gear-shift. 

So I headed to the Farmers' Market this morning with my camera, determined to bring home both some fresh, locally grown goodies, and more importantly, some photos that corresponded with my memories.  I had small hope of finding a hand-crank Oliver there, but surely someone would have a Massey-Harris, or an old John Deere.

 

 First thing I saw was an old John Deere, but it didn't look like the *right* John Deere. Still, it was a beautiful tractor.

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A flash of red caught my eye, and my heart lifted, thinking "Massey Harris!" but it was a Farm-All.

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 Next in line was a bright yellow -- Yellow? I had no idea they had yellow tractors -- International machine.  I had forgotten that International made tractors -- guess I've been back in the city for way too long.

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Some more vintage Deeres, and then I saw it.  Faded red, not fully restored or repainted, but even without seeing the front, I knew what the lettering on it would read... Massey Harris.  This model was older than ours, and had a crank to use in case the battery and electric starter decided to be persnickety. It looked smaller than the tractor of my teen years, but that might just be the effect of my own aging and growing.

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Turns out the owners of the Massey are almost neighbors of mine - we're probably within five miles of each other, and we had a nice chat about childhood tractor memories. That's the owner in the picture with it.

I could see some other Deeres in the line of tractors, but they were all shiny with their pretty green paint jobs, so they weren't really reminding me of childhood. Even so, I wandered down to them so I could say I'd looked at all the tractors, and there it was.

It may not be exactly the same year/model as the one I used when I was 14 and older, but it was similar enough.

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Overall, it was just a normal looking tractor, but when I got closer I could see the throttle lever in front of the steering wheel, and the same skinny metal pedals I remembered; one pedal on the left side, two on the right, and gear shift on the floor between them.

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http://allthingsplants.com/pics/2012-07-07/fiwit/786e86.jpg


And such is the power of memory that even as I sit here in my air-conditioned Georgia home writing this post, I can feel the Ohio summer sun beating down on my bare shoulders and smell the sweet fragrance of new-mown grass and clover as I listen to the pocketa-pocketa rumbling of the old John Deere with the bush-hog whirling behind me mowing the pasture while the traffic flows by on US33 and Mom is hanging clothes on the line to dry in the fresh breeze.


Good times, they were...very good times. And good memories, thanks to "Old Tractor Day" at Cherokee Fresh Market.

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Nice! by MaryE Jul 22, 2012 6:34 AM 6

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