An Old-Time Tractor Demonstration
As Told by William Samual Jenson
Sam was born in rural Kansas in 1926. His dad was a hard-working farmer
and the children worked hard everyday to help ends meet. In the rural area
he grew up in, the highlight of the week was Saturday when many people took
a break from their work to go to town. It was on one such Saturday
in the early 1940's when Sam was 16 years old that he ended up in Dennison,
Kansas to watch a demonstration of a new tractor being put on by a local
It was an Allis-Chalmers tractor dealership, and to the best of Sam's recollection
the tractor being demonstrated that day was a WC model. Specifically being shown
off that day were the new skeleton-style steel wheels. At the time, most farmers
in the area were using the older style wide steel wheels. With their relatively
flat surface and heavy weight they severely packed the soil and the farmers weren't
too happy with them. Remember that this
was during the Second World War so although rubber tires had been in use for some
time - due to war restrictions there were very few rubber-wheeled tractors available.
As everyone gathered around the tractor, the dealer spoke to the crowd about the
advantages of the new skeleton-style steel wheels. The wheels were narrow which
resulted in much less weight, and had tall lugs on them about 4 or 5 inches in
length. This gave the tractor not only great traction, but also did not compact
the soil like the older wide and heavy steel wheels did.
To further drive his sales pitch home, the dealer did an unusual thing - he placed his foot on the brick
floor of his sales area and had a helper drive the tractor right over his foot.
Of course with his foot placed strategically between the tall lugs of the wheels
his foot was uninjured and the point was well taken by the on-lookers.
One particular farmer was very impressed and purchased this fine tractor
for his farm. Upon bringing it home he promptly took it out to the field and was
anxious to show his wife what the dealer had shown him about the non-compacting nature
of these new steel wheels. So he had her get up on the tractor, start it up,
and while he held his foot there bravely on top of the dirt - had her drive right over it. Seems in
the excitement of the dealer's demonstration, this farmer had failed to notice one
important point - the dealer's sales floor was made of brick! Out there in the
farmer's field the wheels sank right down into that soft dirt and although they did
not compact the soil (as advertised) they crushed that poor farmer's foot so bad that
it was broken in several places.
Being a small town, word travelled quickly when that red-faced farmer came limping
into Dennison the next Saturday. And to this day - some 50 years later - when you
start talking to Sam about tractors this is his most vivid memory!
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