Farm Collector

The Lazy Days of Summer Time, and Other Lies

“Summer time, and the living’s easy.”

Along with “The check is in the mail,” that’s one of my favorite myths. Ball games, travel, gardening, mowing, picnics, family reunions, mowing, weddings, camping and painting the house, and did I mention mowing? It all adds up to one of the most deceptively busy times of the year.

If you collect antique farm equipment, summer also offers an impossible agenda of “must see” shows to attend coast to coast. And if by chance you’re also an active member of a tractor or engine club, summer also delivers ample opportunity to be a volunteer. That activity alone can crowd out nearly all others on tap in the warm weather months.

Club members pour seemingly endless hours of service into readying club grounds and facilities, promoting shows, and organizing the countless details that add up to a well-planned show. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to move a tent or camper to the showground’s and set up housekeeping for a week or more before the big event. Like the farmer, volunteers are well familiar with working “can see to can’t see” hours, and then some. I’ve been to shows where new facilities were completed literally hours before the gates opened; where final coats of paint are just barely dry when exhibitors arrive.

Lighting, though, is not generally necessary at such events: the beaming faces of proud, if exhausted, volunteers put a unique glow on the proceedings. That kind of pride and ownership is the best welcome mat a show can have. The finest facilities in the world won’t perk up a show with indifferent  volunteers. Conversely, a shortage of pay phones, long lines at the restrooms, and inadequate parking can all be overcome by friendly volunteers.

Whether you’re actively volunteering or lazily spectating, take time this summer to enjoy the show circuit. Tune your ears to that happy cacophony of loud speaker announcements; engines popping, chugging and hissing; whistles blowing. Take time to visit with friends, new and old; introduce a child to the machines of the past. And by all means, get at the front of the line for the homemade ice cream. Let a stationary engine turn the crank: it’s summertime, and the living’s easy. FC

  • Published on Aug 1, 1999
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