Farm Collector Blogs > First Things

Unexpected Directions

by Leslie McManus

Tags: unexpected, surprises,

Readers of a certain age may remember an exercise from their school days known as “diagramming sentences.”

The grammatical equivalent of dissecting a frog, the exercise was designed to foster understanding of the various parts of speech. Students labored mightily to produce a graphic representation of a sentence, with the end result sprouting legs that shot off in unexpected directions.

The May 2010 issue of Farm Collector was rather like that for me. I like to think, as we begin work on any given issue, that my hands are firmly on the steering wheel and I know where we’re going. But each day – and each issue – has its own surprises.

I did not expect an article on Acme Hay Harvester Co. to take me down a side street dealing with a lawsuit filed by an Illinois lawyer by the name of Lincoln – nor did I expect that Karen Rooman, Farm Collector’s intrepid designer, to come up with an extraordinary image showing a piece of presidential campaign memorabilia dating to 1860 … and when that resulted in a bit more research, I was surprised to learn that the successful vice presidential candidate of that campaign did not meet his running mate until after the election!

Likewise, I did not expect the Australian tractor trekkers to resurface in these pages – and they didn’t (or at least haven’t, yet, but never say never!). Their beloved Chamberlain tractor, however, did make a sweet encore performance in this issue, one I think you’ll enjoy.

And for sure I never expected to encounter a band of outlaws in these pages. Not going to tip you off to what that’s about either, but for those who want dessert before dinner, I’ll tell you this much (which will make more sense after you read the article). The Younger brothers – Bob, Cole and Jim – were issued life sentences for their roles in a bungled 1876 bank robbery. The three were incarcerated in a Minnesota state prison. Bob died of tuberculosis in 1889; his brothers were paroled in 1901. Said to be pining over unrequited love, Jim took his own life a year later. Cole Younger lived another 15 years, to the age of 72.

If you look at a piece of old iron and see just a piece of old iron, take another look. Every treasure tells a story. Enjoy those in this issue of Farm Collector!