Monday, July 08, 2019

Our Family Farmall Comes Home

In the mid-1950s my grandpa went to the Ford dealer in Avilla, Indiana and traded in his
F20 for a Farmall Super M. He farmed with that tractor for a couple decades before selling it to
my dad. Dad used it until 1987 when he sold the farm and went to Great Lakes Christian College to become a

Our neighbor, Kenny, bought the tractor and used it until he passed away. His brother, John, inherited it and parked it in his shed where it sat unused for 24 years. So forgotten was the old Farmall that at some point a mouse crawled down the muffler, through an open valve, and into the number four cylinder where it made a nest.

Eventually Leo Sarazine bought the tractor and brought it to his farm shop to restore it. My cousin got word that Leo had Grandpa’s M, so I called and asked him what he planned to do with it. He told me he had rebuilt the motor, was planning to paint it, and then sell it. Without asking his price I told him, “I want it.”

My son and I headed to Auburn, Indiana last Friday to bring the Super M home. It’s special because it is a family tractor, but also because Leo worked with my dad at International Harvester in Ft. Wayne. His sons – one now an actuary and the other a physician – rode the school bus with me and my sister.

I’m a preacher in Lansing, Michigan, and some of the folks in my church think a tractor-loving pastor is a curiosity. I suppose they’re right. It is a bit odd when I drive our other family tractor – a 1962 Oliver 1600 – to the Speedway gas station to get a 44-ounce fountain pop. But there’s something special about sitting on a seat where my Dad sat, or putting my hands the same place Grandpa put his as he stared at the other end of the field for hours at a time. If you own some “family iron” I don’t have to explain it; you already know what I mean.

Grandpa’s long gone. Dad passed away April 10. Mom followed him to Heaven eleven days later on Easter Sunday morning. Though they didn’t live to see the tractor back in the family, they knew we had found it and were planning to bring it home. Dad wasn't with me in the truck last weekend when we made the 90-minute drive back to my Hoosier homeland. But he was with us Friday when a Weller once again hit the starter switch. And he'll be with us every time we hear those four cylinders bark to life.