People sometimes ask how we decide what to include in show coverage. It is a complex and highly refined science. Picture a cross between a timed shopping spree (“Five minutes to fill the cart AND IT’S ALL FREE!”) and a scavenger hunt. I’m on the prowl for the cool stuff — and the cool stuff’s owners. This presents certain challenges. Some shows are as big as Delaware. Some owners don’t bother with signage on their displays. And my cart really needs a well-balanced mix: It can’t be all steak.
I always grab more than I can ever possibly use. Take the voices announcing tractors in the parade at the Kalamazoo Valley Club show (read about this show in John Deere at Kalamazoo Valley Antique Engine & Machinery Show). I was charmed to hear drivers announce their own tractors, a system that neatly eliminated error and ramped up the human interest factor. Walking nearby, I smiled as I listened to voices with regional accents, voices rich in experience and voices filled with pride. Perhaps the sweetest was the voice of the young girl: “This is my granddad’s John Deere Model D …” I knew the quality of those voices, the personal touch they lent to the show, would never fit into a story, but there was room for them in my cart.
Some stories don’t quite make the cut for publication but continue to buzz around my head like a moth around a porch light. The fellow recalling a determined forebear: “He plowed hills so steep that he’d sit on the tractor’s uphill fender. When the tractor rolled over, he’d just fall back. They’d get horses to set the tractor up, put water and fuel back in and go back to work. One summer they swear he upset the tractor three times.”
And then there are the little gems that just make me laugh, like the man recalling a mother who ruled with an iron hand. “My dad died when I was 10 and we were milking 40 cows. By the time I got out of high school, we were up to 100 cows. Every time mom thought one of us boys might get into trouble, she’d buy 10 more cows.”
One thing about the old iron hobby: There is never a shortage of material! FC
Leslie McManus, Editor