We are in the process of moving, our 28th move in 40 years of marriage. As we come closer to the date for departing, I also have been reflective, considering all that we have experienced. And now, a photo of our tractor brought back very fond memories of farming 55 years ago. It is the photo here: 1939 Minneapolis-Moline R.
I was six years old when my parents bought it (used, of course!). I began driving this tractor that first summer. We were harvesting oats, using a threshing machine. Each neighborhood boy was assigned to a tractor and then the farmers would go out and pitch shocks onto the wagon. Relatively simple driving. Well, it should have been, but… This isn’t one of those fond memories. Maybe that is why it stayed with me.
While driving the tractor with a wagon, we came to a side hill. If you’ve ever driven the tractor you know you had to use a hand clutch, there was no foot clutch. For the most part, if I stood on the platform, and leaned sideways, I could push it forward to get it going. Unfortunately on the side hill, the high school kid who was pitching bundles had me stop. Okay, jump on the breaks to stop! I knew that. But then when he motioned me to go forward, I couldn’t get off the break and push the clutch forward at the same time.
So the tractor and wagon began rolling backward (with a four wheel wagon, that is a losing proposition!), somewhat down the hill. Now what do I do? I was only six years old. I knew enough to yell at the teenager. He came running, jumped on the tractor and began steering the front wheels to get it lined back up so it wouldn’t spring the tongue of the wagon, or worse.
When he grabbed the steering wheel, he was spinning it so fast, that he came down with his arm and cracked my nose. I knew it hurt bad, and was bloody instantly. After he righted the tractor/wagon, I walked back to the threshing machine where the women were feeding crews as they came through.
In those days, we didn’t go to the hospital unless it was life-and-death situations. That was the first of four times I have broken my nose. I broke it the next summer at a baseball game. Hey, look I was seven sitting on the sidelines. How as I to know that the dumb ball would smack me on the nose?
Ah, yes, so many memories. And I still loved that tractor, driving for another ten years before we bought a newer one.