Not much of a story, just more of a tribute to a gentleman farmer of my youth - Joe
Long before I was born, my father was a dairy farmer. As times got tough and the family grew, he moved into agricultural and then into the Fire and Rescue service where he retired from a decorated career in 1985. Back in his farming years, he befriended a gentleman down the road who was several years his elder. Joe didn’t have much formal schooling yet he had an incredible world of knowledge in his head. As the suburbs overtook the fertile ground around Washington D, Joe as forced to sell his farm. As it’s true that you can’t take farming out of a man’s soul, every Saturday morning I awoke to Joe in the kitchen drinking coffee and telling stories. He’d spend the day at our farm lending a hand to any number of jobs that were on Dad’s list from making hay, to building/mending fence to butchering steer.
At the time Dad had four tractors: a Ford Jubilee, two Allis-Chalmers and a Ford 800. Dad and Joe owned the 800 as partners. Whenever Joe was on that 800, he was at “home”. He was born to work on that tractor and looked so natural and at peace.
Joe passed away some years ago and the Allis-Chalmers and the Jubilee found new homes and were replaced by a brand new 63 hp John Deere diesel 4x4 on dad's place. Somehow the 800 remained. This spring my wife, toddling daughter and I were able to trade in the sub-division cookie-cutter house for a new house on a small 10-acre lot. I had always wanted the 800, so dad gave it to me as a house-warming gift … he seemed rather pleased to have been able to pass it down.
We've named the 800 “Joe” in tribute to the man that loved that tractor. It runs a little rough, is covered in grease, and needs a little work, but it has the unmistakable smell of home with all over 50 years of grease, gas, hay, dirt, blood and sweat. I often look out at it sitting in the shed and can plainly see Joe sitting in that hard pan seat dressed in work clothes that match the dirt and gray of those Ford fenders … with the biggest smile of contentment upon his face.
Sure they are just machines, but there is something to be said for old tractors. They pull generations together and souls from the grave. I know Joe is right there with me each time I pull that 800 from the shed … even if its just to run it down the road ˝ mile to the mailbox every Saturday morning.
Glen, VA, entered 2004-09-28
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