First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid

Bitten off a bit more than you can chew in the
“projects” category? Have a little backlog in completions? Hearing
increasingly edgy comments from your significant other on the
growing mass of iron on the back forty? Perhaps all you need is
inspiration to get you back on track. Look no further than this
issue of Farm Collector.

In an article beginning on page 40, you’ll read about the
accomplishments of a group of west Texas teenagers. These 13
youths, members of Future Farmers of American (FFA) from Cotton
Center, Texas, are giving as good as they get in the education
department. In the course of eight months they coaxed a 1939 John
Deere Model H from a rusting relic into the national champion in
FFA tractor restoration competition. Learning as they go, the
youths also teach their elders lessons in determination, enthusiasm
and patience.

At first glance, a 2-cylinder tractor is as alien to the average
17-year-old as perhaps a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone is to a
senior citizen. These kids, however, are open to new possibilities,
to new challenges. They’ve learned and grown in countless ways
through their project, and that’s a lesson none of us is too old to

Personally, I love FFA. I’ve seen kids absolutely transformed by
their FFA experiences. Other secondary-level programs – athletics,
debate, theater, clubs – make an impact on kids’ lives, but few
with the consistency, enormity and solid, life-long values that FFA
delivers on a regular basis. I sometimes wish FFA membership was a
universal high school graduation requirement, but fear that a
mandatory program would groan beneath the weight of inevitable

Meanwhile, way off in Cotton Center, Texas, the FFA chapter has
a six-year waiting list of project tractors to tackle. Chapter
members are enthusiastic about the process of converting sow’s ears
into silk purses, no matter the challenges, no matter how many
Saturdays are sacrificed. And all the while, they’re learning:
mechanics, body work, sourcing parts, deadlines, record-keeping,
public speaking, budgeting … they’re even soaking up a humanities
lesson, one that comes as no surprise to folks in this hobby. “You
can’t believe,” muses Advisor David Howell, “how many good people
we’ve met in the tractor restoration business.” Yes, we can, Dave;
yes, we can.

Leslie McManus, Editor

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment