Heard from my friend Warren out in Montana this morning.   He has a 1939 John Deere model “A” that I would like to buy as soon as I can afford it.    He has gone completely through it and hearing it tells me its a sound runner.   I will probably re-do the block if I can find some original Deere cast .45 NOS (New Old Stock) pistons, just to give it a bit more pep.  Plowing in New England’s rocky ground takes a bit more horsepower.

I really like this tractor.  Growing up, I used to watch old Bill Gladding plow for potatoes in very early March with a tractor exactly like this one.  There is something about the sound of those two cylinders cutting through the frost of a late winter’s morning.  Something exhilarating and early Springish.   Could stand a little of that now on New Years’ Eve.  Bill also had a newer John Deere “B”, which now sits in my barn.  I like old farmers like Bill Gladding; they were honest and self-reliant.  They never hired except maybe a week or two at haying time.  They did their own work.  Antone Vieira had horses.   So did Ernie Hull.  And, I think, Enos Gomes.  Now yuppies and lawyers own the farms, picturesque replicas of a generation ago.  I liked the old-timers better, though, and I think about them once in awhile.

We had a horse, too.  His name was Midnight Star.  I was the least of his favorites.  Star was a five-gaited American saddle horse from Kentucky.  He was quite good at herding the cows up to the barn at milking time.  He dearly loved the little children, especially when their pockets sagged with sugar cubes, molasses candy, and slices of cinammon apple.   Star was almost uniformly gentle in fact except when, upon encountering a real estate agent or a lawyer unlucky enough to venture onto a pasture or hay field, he would rise up on his hind hooves and lash wildly out at the miscreant.  Several times during haying I would look up to see papers and briefcases flying in all directions as their terrified owner scrambled for safety back over the neighbors’ wall.

But, tractors remain my favorite.  My father had several Fordson model “F”s, with steel wheels, the kind Henry Ford sold Stalin back in the 1920s.  Stalin said that one Fordson was worth “100 foreign Communists”.   By God, he was right.

Have a Good New Year!                


1 Comment

  1. Ted Riethmuller

    December 31, 2005 @ 4:47 pm


    And a happy new-year to you Louis. People like you remind us foreigners that there is the good side to America and Americans.

    I am reminded of the steel tired Fordson that my Grandfather had. I was too young to note the model though.

    Keep writing. Combining the personal with the political is very important.

    In solidarity,

Log in