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Tom’s Tractor

February 26, 2014
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

This week's story was written by my friend, Debbie Ice, of Jacksonburg. Debbie is a gifted storyteller, author, and editor. After reading her story I believed that you all may enjoy reading as much as I did. Her story of an old tractor and her husband's dream is one that perhaps many of us can relate to in our own lives:

For several years when on our way to and from Clarksburg, we drove past a place where an old tractor was parked at the end of a house, and we soon developed a routine. It's not an exaggeration to say that every time we neared that point from either direction, my husband Tom slowed down, craned his neck, looked toward the partially tarp-covered tractor, and said, "One of these days I'm going to stop and ask those people if they're interested in selling that tractor."

We never stopped, just continued the routine-until one day when Tom slowed down, craned his neck, and jerked like he'd been poked with a cattle prod. Disbelief and disappointment were obvious as he moaned, "The tractor's gone! I knew I should have stopped and asked if they'd sell it!"

Article Photos

Tom Ice and his “new” tractor.

From the day we discovered the tractor was missing, over the next few months our routine changed only slightly as we neared the tractor's former home. Tom still slowed down and craned his neck, but he hoped the dream machine had been out for repairs and looked to see if it had miraculously returned home. When seeing that its spot remained empty, he'd say, "They must have sold it. I knew I should have stopped and asked about it."

On New Year's Day, our son showed his dad a picture of a tractor advertised for sale on a local site, said a friend told him he thought it was the tractor Tom was interested in, and asked his dad if he thought it could be the same one. As interested in the tractor as Tom was, because he had never stopped to look closely at it, he wasn't sure but thought it could possibly be the same one and asked our son to contact the seller and ask if he could see it. Our son posted the request.

Tom fretted that someone would stop and buy that tractor before the sellers checked their messages, and as he paced our son told him to relax-said the people would be in touch-but Tom continued to pace. Finally, at around noon, the sellers responded saying they'd be home at two o'clock and that Tom was welcome to come see the tractor. Tom immediately left the room and returned wearing his cap and carrying his jacket. He was grinning from ear to ear and was ready to go. Our son grinned and said, "Dad, the people who have the tractor live about 15 minutes from here and won't be home until two o'clock. There's no need for us to go sit in their driveway for two hours."

Time dragged until the guys headed out, hoping to discover the tractor Tom had drooled over from afar for several years. Conversation with the sellers revealed the tractor was indeed The One. The deal was made, and the former owners agreed to deliver the tractor to Jacksonburg.

Tractor Tom returned home with a grin from ear to ear and almost pranced with excitement. Our son had to leave for a while, but within a few minutes he called to say, "Tell Prancer the tractor's on its way. I just passed it in Hastings." I relayed the message, and Prancer/Tractor Tom headed for the garage at the speed of light. The tractor and Tom were finally united.

As with most of his projects, Tom said he was in no hurry. He'd take his time. He'd spread out the project. Then he jumped in with both feet and no patience, and began his labor of love. He could hardly stay away from the tractor. He lost all track of time, and the garage lights were often on into the wee hours of the morning.

It's interesting that Tractor Tom can remain motivated and enjoy a project even though, as things progress, his fingers are held together with black electrical tape and his head looks like it could use a few tape strips, too. But, so far, so good. All fingers are still attached; the cuts and wounds have healed; and the mysterious bruise on Tom's forehead has disappeared.

The dream tractor is a 1956 International Harvester Farmall Cub Lowboy with a 59" Wood mower deck and was in pretty good shape when she came to live with Tom. She ran like a top but was faded and had a little rust, and Tom wanted to spiffy her up. He removed some parts. He scrubbed, cleaned, and painted. He replaced the manifold because it was pitted, replaced the wiring harness (with a glitch that brought Donnie Kinkade to the rescue), replaced the light and starter switches, added some metal logos/emblems and new stickers, added a battery box with a lid, and replaced the seat and steering wheel. He also worked on the mower deck and added new stickers and is awaiting delivery of its wheels and a belt. We were pleased to discover antique tractor websites that are great sources of information for readily available parts. Tom's enjoyed the project, and other than later having the tractor's brakes checked for adjustment or replacement, the tractor's nearly finished. Excitement and determination turned an anticipated prolonged project into one that lasted about six weeks. We have absolutely no need for the tractor other than as a project, but that's reason enough to have it."

***

Each of us has goals or dreams we may think about from time to time. For some it may be a trip to see an old friend from long ago. For others it might be the wanting to write a novel we thought about for years. Things in our bucket-list are often put off until another day. In Debbie's story it was an old tractor her husband passed with hopes of someday stopping to see if it were for sale. Tom's good fortune gave him the opportunity to rebuild that old tractor he had driven by those many times. There is a lesson for all of us in his accomplishment. Take the time to follow your dream hidden away from the world in your bucket-list. After all, dreams may be plentiful, but time may not be as we look Through the Lens.

 
 

 

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