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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Aug 21, 2009

Last Saturday was a day spent at an antique power show, an annual event in neighboring Belmond, one of many held at this time of year. For that weekend, it seemed everyone at the show was the same age. Both participants and spectators were back at a time when we were young and one of the exciting things was admiring shiny new tractors.

Everyone had a favorite color and there were many colors available. The kids of today wear the colors of their favorite team. On that Saturday, we grown up kids were cheering our team colors from Farmall, Avery, and Massey-Harris red to John Deere and Oliver green to Case and Allis-Chalmers orange to Ford and Ferguson grey and Minneapolis Moline gold.

The tractors ran on gasoline and diesel fuel, along with a few wood burners. The people attending were running on nostalgia and old memories, trying to recapture for a few hours a time when life seemed simpler.

No farmer today would give up his cab, but for this weekend, cabless tractors were to be admired, polished, worked, paraded and displayed. Smiles were in abundance.

These power shows attract people like me who grew up in that time just before and after World War II. The show was a collection of old farm equipment and old farm kids. Kids with gray hair who walk a little more slowly and for a few hours will forget about the troubles of today.

Kids like me grew up watching our dads and neighbors working, not at an office, but just outside the front door of our homes. It was not an eight to five job, but an all-consuming job that started and ended with daily chores that had to be done in addition to the requirements of the season. Our parents gave us something we can only hope to give our children.

There was plenty to do for everyone of most any age on the farm and you were expected to help. As you grew in size, so did your job. Tractor driving jobs were the most desirable. Manual labor jobs were lower on the list in desirability.

Reminiscing abounds at a show from the past, providing a high-powered fuel for getting the work done. I do not believe there was person there who did not feel the presence of their dad nearby, another motivator for holding these events.

We were all there to connect with our past, especially our youth when dads worried about the big things and all we had to do was take care of today. Tomorrow was not that important. Dads took care of tomorrow.

I was one of those who felt his dad nearby at the show. However, as much as my dad enjoyed buying new machinery, he never was caught up in the nostalgia and sentiment that is at the core of these old time shows. To him, it was all just old iron. He could look at a Farmall M or John Deere A and tell you what was wrong with it because he had hours and hours of experience in all kinds of weather.

He remembered what it was like to sit on a steel tractor seat on a January morning and there was no reason to relive that. I have yet to attend a power show where they have events honoring rock picking or manure pitching. Nostalgia has its advantages and can be very selective.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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