Chasing Farm Literature
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"We grew up on the edge of Milton, Wis., and the people who rented our farm land had all IH equipment," he says. "The woman who lived next to us also rented out her land to someone who used just IH equipment. And my mom's parents used IH equipment."
In the 1970s, he and his buddy saw ads for International Harvester tractors and tractor-combines in farm magazines, and began cutting them out, and putting them in scrapbooks. One day Ken was asked to ride along with his uncle, who had bought a brand-new International milk truck.
"He stopped at the dealership where he had bought the truck, and I don't know if he did it for us or not, but when he stopped there, the first thing we did was head for the literature rack, like always, and we raided it like all kids do, big and saucer-eyed seeing all that neat literature," he recalls. "I picked up a handful like always, and one of the pieces was an IH truck with an eagle on the side of it, the IH 4300 Eagle brougham. That's the piece that really turned me onto trucks. I wanted to have a track like that. It looked neat and very big and very impressive. I'm still looking for the real one yet today. If I ever find it I'd pay someone a cash reward for it. I was 12 years old, and I'll never forget that day. And I still have all those ads and scrapbooks today."
Another collector who likes to keep up with his chosen lines of machinery is Wayne Sucker of Grand Rapids, Minn.
"I collect lots of farm literature, belt buckles, then the full-size tractors, and the toy tractors, as well as construction machinery toys," he says.
He says he has drawers and drawers of farm literature, much of it Case and IH.
"It's part of being interested in every aspect of the lines," he says.
The Good Old Days
Some people just like to remember the nostalgic days of the past, like Neal Stone of rural Wisconsin Dells, Wis. He started collecting farm literature, primarily for red tractors, when he was 10 years old.
"I've got quite a fair amount," he says. "I pick it up locally from friends and neighbors, and at local swap meets and shows. The later stuff I get through dealers. I go back and read it, and reminisce, would be a good description of what I do with it. It's also handy for looking back through for different references and specifications, like tire types and that kind of stuff."
Daryl Miller of Battle Creek, Iowa, collects farm literature so he can follow the evolution of farm machinery.
"I find it real interesting, through the literature, to follow how farm machinery evolved over the years, and to follow how companies have evolved over the years, and the mistakes they have made," he says. "I've always been interested in history, and in studying it, so one of the things I find novel is how things make a full circle. A lot of ideas farm companies had 50 years ago are coming back again. Like years ago, all tractors had a wide front end, and then they went to the narrow, and now they're back to the wide front end tractor. Hay was made loose years ago - I remember that because I bucked hay years ago – then everyone went to baling hay, and then about a dozen years ago it went back to making hay in big stacks again, just in a different way. Farming has come full circle, and you can see it in the literature."
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