When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. – Mark Twain
In the old iron hobby, family ties are often forged from iron. The fact that a father-son theme surfaces several times in this issue of Farm Collector is not so much a nod to Father’s Day as it is our stock-in-trade. But this month, we go out of our way to honor Dad.
The antique farm equipment hobby is open to anyone, but in reality, most collectors are male. In marked contrast to many hobbies, however, old iron exercises a powerful pull. Family members are routinely drawn in along with the collector. Many, many women are capable, knowledgeable and enthusiastic partners in their husbands’ hobbies. But the father-and-son (or daughter) partnership sounds a particularly sweet note.
It’s the yin and yang of it that appeals to me. I like the delicate balance of experience and energy, of passionate enthusiasm and hard-learned patience. I like the stream of learning that flows both ways. In the best such partnerships, each person honors the other’s opinion, experience and skill – and that is a fine thing to see in any relationship but especially between parent and child.
In a time when many conversations are dominated by technology, and landfills teem with all manner of disposables, the notion of passing something from one generation to the next holds profound meaning. In this issue, Loretta Sorensen tells the tale of a 1921 International Titan cared for by three generations of a South Dakota family. Elsewhere in these pages, Gary Yaeger shares remarkable stories of his forebears’ experiences with steam engineering in the early 1900s in Montana – stories that remain alive today only because someone cared enough to pass them on to the next generation.
Like the gift that keeps giving, the old iron hobby keeps the past alive. And that’s a tradition worth celebrating. To all the dads who’ve ever turned a wrench, painted sheet metal, chased a trailer at a swap meet or shared tall tales at a show, cheers! Hope you had a happy Father’s Day!