It was one week before Christmas of 1938, and Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves were frantic with worry. All eight reindeer had come down with a terrible sickness that prevented them from wearing harness of any kind.
Lig, the elf charged with taking care of the reindeer, and of keeping them healthy, was beside himself, for he had no clue as to what was wrong. Lig repeated over and over to Santa, as well as to any of the elves who would listen, “I’ve tried every cure in the free, 97-page veterinary book that I got through the mail, and nothing does any good.”
Santa shook his head, and told poor Lig to keep trying.
Four days before Christmas Eve, Lig reported no improvement in the ailing reindeer, so Santa called an emergency meeting of all the elves, along with Mrs. Claus.
“Friends,” Santa began, “we’ve got a crisis on our hands. It looks as though there will be no way to deliver toys for all the children this year. Should we cancel Christmas?”
Mrs. Claus was aghast.
“In all the hundreds of years I’ve been here, we’ve never canceled Christmas!” she cried. “I won’t let it happen now! Elves, think of something!”
It so happened that for the past several years, Santa had been hiring elves who had formerly worked at farm equipment dealerships. These elves had the job of building all the toy trucks, tractors and trains Santa needed, and they did an outstanding job due to their training and background.
One of these elves, who was named Wit, had recently been promoted to Santa’s workshop. He had a bright idea.
“Santa!” Wit shouted. “At the Minneapolis-Moline dealership I just left is the most amazing new tractor anyone has ever seen. It’s called a ‘U’ DeLUXE and it would be just the thing for you to use to deliver toys on Christmas Eve.”
Sal, another of the mechanic elves, and one with more seniority than Wit, retorted, “Shucks, I can get a beautiful Farmall F-20 from my old dealer that will do the job better than any old Minnie-Mo, and it’s painted Christmas red, too.”
Little P.W. then chimed in.
“I’ll get a John Deere G that’s painted bright Christmas green, and with its smooth two-cylinder power, it’ll pull the sleigh with no trouble at all.”
Santa was intrigued, but even though he’d lived at the North Pole for centuries, he knew a thing or two about tractors.
“Boys! Boys! Calm down. I really appreciate your ideas, but everyone knows tractors are slow, too slow to cover my route in one night. Sal, does your Farmall have lights for night driving, and just how fast will it travel?”
“Well, er, the F-20 has no lights, and it will make about nine miles per hour with a road gear installed. But it IS red!” Sal answered hopefully.
“O.K., P.W., how about your John Deere?” Santa asked.
It was P.W.’s turn to look sheepish. The little elf had to admit that the G would run only six miles per hour, and had no lights.
Santa shook his head.
“I’m afraid tractors aren’t the answer,” he said sadly.
All this time, Wit had been dancing up and down.
“Santa! Santa!” The little elf was so excited he could barely talk. “My Minneapolis-Moline UDLX has big bright headlights to show you the way, and best of all, it’ll go 40 miles an hour and, if I tweak the governor a little, maybe even more! You won’t even need the sleigh, because the UDLX has a warm, comfortable cab with room enough for your sack of toys!”
Santa thought for a minute.
“What will it take to get this fabulous machine here?” he asked. “We haven’t much time.”
“Just give me an overnight pass,” Wit replied, “and I’ll have the UDLX here tomorrow by noon! That’ll leave me time to give you a few driving lessons, and then we can load up the toys for the big night.”
So it was done. The shiny gold-and-red Minneapolis-Moline UDLX was everything Wit had claimed. Santa easily learned to drive the machine; there was room in the cab for all the toys, and the Christmas Eve rounds were made speedily and in total comfort.
In fact, it is written that Santa seriously considered retiring the sleigh and reindeer and keeping the UDLX. However, Lig finally found the cure the reindeer needed, and since Santa is pretty much a traditionalist, he returned the Minnie and continued to deliver toys the old way.
That’s the story. Now, here’s my letter to Santa Claus.
Please bring me a Minneapolis-Moline U DeLUXE, just like the one used back in 1938. Thanking you in advance, I am—
P.S.: I’ve been real good.
P.P.S: Well, pretty good.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. I hope you get all the rusty iron you want under your tree. FCEver since his days as a boy on a farm in western Pennsylvania, Sam Moore has been interested in tractors, trucks and machinery. Now a resident of Salem, Ohio, he collects antique tractors, implements and related items.