First Things

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Terry L. WelchTerry L. Welch

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As usual, my moving became my dad's moving. He owns the truck, after all.

My furniture, through the vagaries of the gypsy life I lived in the military and in school, had somehow been spread around the state as if tossed about by a tornado with a sense of humor and a secretive nature. Sofas were in the basement storage units of friends; chairs were threatening to mold in a leaky garage; a piano - which, in the end would be declared too heavy and would have to wait for another day - sat in an old house, waiting for me to both pick it up and to learn to play the piano. It was time to bring all of it home.

As we drove the half lap of the state of Kansas (not, I should mention a small state), we had ample time to chit-chat about the magazine, his farm machinery repair business and about the kids. Somewhere in there, it came up that the new editor of Gas Engine Magazine, Richard Backus, and I were looking for a beat-up old tractor to restore.

'Well, you know you could have that old Avery,' Dad said.

First, let me say that I did not know that I could have it, probably because, second, I had no idea it existed. But, after we made it back to my hometown of St. John, I drove out behind the welding shop and found one of B.F.'s Model As rusting gravely away beneath a tree. I was thrilled.

While visiting my grandmother, I mentioned the old Avery to her and found out that my grandfather's family had been the first in their area to own a tractor. The Avery wasn't that one, being a model which appeared on the market near the end of World War II. This tractor, though, was one that had been used by my grandfather's father - a man I had never known. Here was a piece of family history that, to me, had been unknown. For all intents and purposes, it had not even existed for me.

We returned to Northeast Kansas without the tractor this time. Dad has been given notice, however, that the truck and trailer will be drafted into action again very soon to load the old rust bucket and haul its flaking carcass to its new home.

As readers of this magazine know, tractors are not just machines, but are also family heirlooms. If I would not leave my cheap, arguably tacky furniture behind in the basements of friends, how could I leave this tractor - this history - behind to be eaten away by the rain and scattered by the wind of modern forgetfulness?