First Things

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Leslie C. McDaniel

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By now, for most of you, show season has pretty well wound down for another year. Tractors and engines are being stowed away for the winter; tarps are floating down over portable displays; and this summer's finds are front and center, making last summer's prizes pale by comparison.

It's the same way here: my desk sags beneath the piles of photos of wonderful old stuff tracked down this summer... notes are piled atop notes from nearly a year ago. If the fire marshal pays a surprise visit, I'm sunk - unless he's a collector.

Do you have any idea how much incredible antique equipment is out there? What you see at the shows, of course, is but the tip of an iceberg. There are barns and sheds and back lots full of it, and private museums around every corner. It's almost frightening to think how much there could have been, if it hadn't been lost to time and scrap drives, recycled into stock tanks or ditch-fillers.

And yet the collector's optimism springs eternal. I wish I had a nickel for every collector I've talked to who's on the hunt for an impossibly rare part or manual or piece to add to his collection. Folks like those remain absolutely convinced that the missing treasure is out there, somewhere... if they just keep looking.

That kind of persistence has been known to pay off. In an article in this issue, George Molus, a collector of pedal tractors, tells about his quest for a rare model. The folks at the Rough and Tumble engine museum, also featured in this issue, invested 10 years in an effort to secure a rare engine (one so big that it'll require modifications to the building) for their collection. Then there's Jim McCormick, who's had to scramble to find raw materials to make brooms that are authentic reproductions of those made a hundred years ago.

Persistent, stubborn, whatever - you collectors are an inspiration. I'm going to tear into the mess on my desk with renewed resolve. Buried treasure? Unlikely. Shoot, I'd be happy just to find my car keys!