First Things

An iron-clad valentine

| February 2005

For those of you who pay scant attention to such things, Valentine's Day approaches. We've tried a subtle reminder, delivered not by cupid but by Bill Vossler, who's written a bang-up piece on the Love tractor line for this issue (beginning, fittingly enough, on page 14). The Love (which later, briefly, became the Friday tractor) is a rare and unique tractor designed for orchard use as well as speed: The manufacturer claimed a Love could be driven at up to 50 mph.

But I digress. Think of this as a public service announcement. Many of you who spend considerable time and energy pursuing old iron do so with a good woman at your side. I could elaborate on the contribution women make to this hobby, but fear the publisher might balk at adding pages to this issue. Let's just leave it at this: You'd be amazed how far you can advance your cause through even a modest observance of Valentine's Day!

Other gems in this issue include recollections from a retired farmer in Holland. M.H. Burgers' memories of his first combine are clear even half a century later. Students of history will remember that the Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe after World War II, but may be fuzzy on the details. Burgers' memories help us understand one of the ways in which that rebuilding was accomplished. And the gratitude he expresses for American efforts is a true valentine.

We're deep in winter here in the Midwest. You can rant and rave at the snow and cold, or you can face it head on. We're taking the latter option, and remembering the fun of sledding. Collector Gail Kruse has a bigger-than-life time capsule in his collection of sleds (see page 28-30 of this issue).

According to legend, sledding has its roots in Roman times, when soldiers accompanying Julius Caesar across the Alps rode their shields down the snowy mountainsides, using their spears to steer. A historian may scoff at that notion, but speaking as the mother of two teenage boys I find it absolutely plausible … though today's shield is a snowboard, and the spear, a ski pole. Truly, time marches on … in sled equipment, and calendars. Happy Valentine's Day!

Leslie McManus, Editor