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Ol Tractors Got Soul

I look at the IH434 just unloaded by the dealer. I clear my throat, first lookin around to make sure no one is watching then I introduce myself. Very important, it's the first thing you do. You have to show respect caus he made it to the new century, he's tired and nervous. I put my hand on the hood and give it a pat.

Just last Saturday I passed by the NH dealer. I saw the old timers standing in a row, usually up front of the sales lot. They get undignified company with manure spreaders and long gone hay equipment. Maybe someone will want 'em and give them a final home. Behind them are the grandsons, heavily muscled painted spoiled teen 4X4's rated in the 200hp's full of pep and rarin to go. They'll be working the ground all right, the ground prepared and de-stoned by grandad up front.

Grandad has seen hard work, given rides to the owner's kids, watched 'em grow up, got sad when the tykes were scared when they first saw him for the first time, pulled a few Model A's out of the snow, milkcans down the road for pickup, patiently tolerated the skipped transfusion of new oil needing to be changed but owner decided to wait another month for lack of cash because of the new baby. He heard the cussin when his clutch finally slipped. If he could only convey how he felt he'd apologise.

The oldtimers have a communication of sorts, they all seem to be happy in a group, doesn't matter what the make. There's an understanding and wisdom they have that only comes with passing hard times.

I say to myself 'Nawww, they're only machines'. But there is something there, can't explain it. Looking at it closer I see the engine heart, the appendage wheels, and the artery oil lines with the accompaning hardening that comes with age, the eyes headlights. But, Ah! then there is no brain, no memory of the times. But suppose it could be the memories are burned into every atom of every part there is, retaining it with those dust particles of the plowing of summer of 44 lodged in every crevice, the pollen from the new crop planted in the back fallow pasture in 52, who knows.

I start with my name and explain that I don't have too much work to do and state that it will see much idle time with only 4 acres (trying to make it feel good). I tell it that I'll fix as much as I can afford, then give a welcome on behalf of the family.

Old tractors DO have a soul. It communicates the message when the owner decides to give it a coat of paint or a new ring job. The owner says 'It'd look good all fixed up'. That's not the owner's wish, but the message being sent. Every person who refuses to let the scrap heap deteriorate in the back field receives a message and gives it a new life.

So folks keep them shined and runnin good and show them off. Give 'em work to do, but take it easy out of respect, and don't forget. . . . they like being talked to.

Spencer Greely, on, entered 2003-03-06
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