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|520 John Deere and the Circus|
I grew up in farm country in southern Minnesota-as a matter of fact, the town where I attended school was located on the border line with Iowa. In those days, every little town had its own school and several businesses. My town even had a doctor, two dentists, a drug store, two hardware stores, a theatre called the Border Line, 6 gas stations, a John Deere dealership, and several other businesses. When I graduated from high school there were 37 businesses in town and today there are none. As a matter of fact, there are weeds growing up on main street. In those days, there were travelling roller rinks and small travelling circuses that came to town for about a week during the summer. The roller rink was in a tent and the floor was made of Masonite with slat cribbing fence around the outside. To say the least, it was the hub of activity for the week it was in town. When the circus was in town, it was quite the attraction. I was about 6 years old when it came to our town. That was the first time that I had ever seen tigers and elephants. And of course, they had all the trapeze acts, jugglers, and clowns. All this was on a bare lot on the edge of town in a big tent. At intermission, they had a pull-off. It featured an elephant pulling against a tractor. For a six-year-old kid, it was almost heart stopping. With a lot of fanfare, the ringmaster started the event. He shouted, “For your enjoyment, the circus is going to feature a great show of strength and power before your very eyes. We are going to have a fabulous tug-of-war between two formidable power-houses. From Sarasota, Florida, weighing in at 12,100 pounds, Eddie the elephant.” From one side of the ring, came walking in the biggest (and the first) elephant I had ever seen. Its trunk was swinging, it was wearing a huge harness and you could almost feel the ground shake when it walked. The ringmaster went on, “Eddies opponent tonight is Johnny weighing in at 4,980 pounds, from right here in Elmore”. From the other side of the ring came driving in a brand spanking new, shiny 520 John Deere tractor provided by the town’s own E. J. Butler dealership. The announcer filled in all the blanks in your mind with his banter. “Mr. Butler has assured me that there is nothing that can outpull his John Deere tractor.” The elephant was led to the center of the ring and then the tractor was backed up behind the elephant. The harness was hooked to the tractor and of course the ringmaster built up the pull-off as a world-famous event of strength and power. He said go and the pull was on. The tractor started pulling and started spinning. The old elephant reared up and leaned into the harness and just maintained the stance. The tractor just kept spinning until it was dug down into the dirt. The ringmaster finally stopped the event claiming that the mighty elephant had just as much power as the tractor. Looking back over all these years, it was a good show. The elephant weighed twice as much as the tractor and didn’t even have to pull hard. It ended up being a tie and was good for business for the dealer and a good crowd pleaser for the circus.
Gregg R Gesche, IA, entered 2022-12-25
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