“The past,” a writer once noted, “is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” That observation resonated for me as I learned about the Blitz Fogger, an after-market device used in the 1960s to disseminate a cloud of pesticide from a mower (read more in Blitz Fogger Devices) . It is hard to remember a time when clouds of pesticide were not considered a threat to anything but insects, but that time surely existed, and most of us have at least vague memories of it.
Clay Brown’s interest in Blitz Fogger products is a fascinating sidebar to the garden tractor collection he and his daughter ride herd over. The Blitz devices and memorabilia he’s gathered capture the essence of the 1960s as surely as steel wheels describe the days before tractors had rubber tires.
And that is the beauty of “add on” or “goes with” collections. They set the scene; they fill in the gaps. At the 2014 Red Power Round Up, for instance, a display focusing on International’s Electrall system spoke volumes about the final days before the independent PTO became common. What would otherwise have been a rather dry display of handsomely restored tractors suddenly became greater than the sum of its parts.
Collectors like Clay Brown are driven. Once they’ve zeroed in on a given item, they simply have to have every related relic they can put their hands on. Passion like that creates context for the rest of us, especially when all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled at a show. Surround a tractor, engine or steam engine with relevant memorabilia, and the past snaps to life.
It may take a bit of doing. Clay, for instance, had a vinyl banner produced from a fragile paper collectible. Small items may need to be put under glass. But it’s only March: You still have time before show season 2015 gets underway. Chances are, you already have pieces that would complement your display. With spring on the way, it’s the perfect time to start poking around in the shed. Happy hunting! FC