My Dad purchased a 20 acre hobby farm just down the road from our homestead in Manitowoc in 1973. We call it the 'Moss Boy's farm' as it was originally purchased and maintained by the Moss family (Eugene and Walter) up until the time of it's purchase. Included in the purchase was a 1949 Farmall H, along with an IH baler and a combine with a power unit on it. The property is situated along Silver Creek which wanders from west of Newton, into and back out of Silver Lake and eventually out to Lake Michigan.
One early spring afternoon after sucker fishing and a few beers I decided it would be a good idea to take the H for a little road trip (foolish decision number one). Silver Creek park is just about two miles down the highway and at that time (early 80's) was a big party hang-out. With my buddy standing on the drawbar, I came into the park wide open in road gear (foolish decision number two). As we came around the bend toward the fieldhouse we were greeted by a roar of laughter and finger pointing. Granted were right on the edge of town, most of these people are 'city-folk' and looked at that H as something from 'Green Acres'! A few people we knew gathered around and asked why we brought the tractor. Of course we didn't have a good answer, other than 'to get a cool beer'. After 15-20 minutes I decided to get going only to be confronted by probably one of the most ignorant people there. He asked if it could smoke the tires to which I replied 'probably' (foolish decision number three). 'Let's see it then!' he replied. Mind you this H probably had the factory clutch in it yet and years of being the sole tractor on hilly ground had left it less than desirable for grab. I tried fourth gear with the left wheel locked. Nothing but clutch slip. Third gear broke the tire loose and pretty soon the roar of the crowd was of approval. I dumped the clutch, grabbed fourth and got it to spin again. No smoke yet. Then the challange came. My unimpressed city friend gave me the wave of disapproval and began to walk away. Not one to back away, I grabbed road gear. Knowing the condition of that clutch, I feared the worst but still dumped the clutch as the tire was still barely in motion from fourth gear. Much to my stupid teenage pleasure the wheel broke loose again and spun at road speed with the tractor standing still. A roar of pure approval could be heard in the park as that big old tire stood spinnin' and smokin'. I don't think anybody there thought of a tractor as just a 'Green Acres' tractor after that. I couldn't believe it myself. Looking back I realize the foolishness of my ways. Ultimately, I could have seriously injured others or myself, not to mention the damaged to the tractor. But, for one small moment I had the attention of a few people who think tractors just go putt-putt on 'Green Acres'.
Fortunately that tractor is still in the family and after a twenty year rest is soon to come out of storage and back to work. I think I owe her an apology, and some TLC!
William Schmidt, Sr., WI, entered 2004-05-10
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