Lined up like soldiers, the antique tractors are spit-polished and ready for viewing. They wear uniforms of bright red, green, and yellow as well as shades of rust and wear. Name tags read: Case, Allis, Oliver, Farmall, Ford, and John Deere.
Young fathers lift their toddlers high to sit upon the hard metal seats. Little boys zig zag around the metal soldiers jumping up to “take a ride”.
Older couples reminisce about Grandpa’s tractor and how and where they learned to drive.
An elderly farm wife steps carefully around the machinery. She moves slowly as if searching for something she has lost. A smile takes over as she stops next to a faded, orange tractor. She caresses the front panel and her hands trace the lettering on the side. Sixty years ago she was a young bride watching her farmer work the ground on a tractor similar to this one. She remembers a picnic lunch in the forty acre field next to their barn. A quick bite and precious moments spent together before returning to work. “Make hay while the sun shines.” That’s what he always said. Family and social life revolved around the farm schedule. She remembers attending a wedding by herself because rain was headed this way and the wheat had to be harvested.
There had been hard times when Mother Nature didn’t provide what was needed. Jobs off the farm had been necessary to survive. There had been bumper crops when a new tractor became a reality and some long-awaited updates to the house could be completed. The good times outweighed the bad. The best memories were times spent together, even if it was handing nuts and bolts and parts to her farmer lying under the combine, trying to quickly fix a breakdown and get back to the harvest. Picnics on the tailgate of the old pickup truck with the kids chasing grasshoppers and lightning bugs and racing back to the house beside the truck. It had been a good life, hard at times, but in the end they had been comfortable and happy and could view their accomplishments from the kitchen window.
It was the second year since her farmer had passed. She couldn’t bear to come and browse the antique farm tractors the first year. It had been a special time they had shared through the years. It was just a small part of the county fair often overlooked, but one of their favorite spots. She was alone for the first time in the midst of the aging equipment. But only for a little while.
“Grandma! We’re here.” Her grandchildren ran to her side. “Was this Grandpa’s tractor?”
She hugged them and smiled, “Let me tell you a story.”