IH Collector Hosts Annual Gathering

| January 2001

This is a story about my friend, Nick Breslawski. He has been a serious collector of International Harvester tractors - those in need of salvage and overhaul - for most of his 79 years. Stuck bolts do not have a chance against this guy. His collection of nearly 40 antique tractors - all carrying the names McCormick Deering, Farmall or International Harvester - has earned him the admiration of countless old tractor collectors. He also has dozens of horse-drawn tools and implements, wrenches, walking sticks, oil cans, yardsticks, rulers, toys, signs and more, all with ties to International Harvester. He even has a military M1 rifle, one of many made by IHC when the company retooled for the war effort. Those IHC rifles, difficult to find, are highly sought by IHC collectors.

Each summer, Nick invites others in the Rochester, N.Y., area to bring their tractors to a show he puts on. Some tractors show up 'as is,' in their 'work clothes'; others are picture perfect. Nick's Hamlin Antique Tractor and Equipment Show attracts folks with interests in all makes of tractors. Nick is such a likable fellow that it makes no difference what color tractors you like. He does, however, refer to those green machines as 'tractors that are not yet ripe.'

At the show, a wood fire burning beneath a huge cast iron kettle boils milled sorghum into syrup. Nick grows his own sorghum, which is a bit of a challenge since the northeast's growing season often does not provide enough time for the crop to mature. But it adds an interesting exhibit to his shows. A late model yellow-and-white International Cub tractor turns a long pole connected to Nick's sorghum mill, wearing a large circle in the grass in the process. Nick's mill is believed to be the only working sorghum mill in New York.

This was the third year that Nick has given out complimentary show buttons. The 2000 show button has an IH Titan tractor on it. Another highlight of the show is the old fashioned baked goods sale conducted by friends. Women involved with the show wear dresses styled like those of the '30s. I have never attended another antique tractor show with this extra special touch.

On Sunday afternoon of the two-day show, I felt honored when Nick asked me to organize a parade. Small garden tractors - mostly Cub Cadets - led the procession. We paraded past the various exhibits, which included a working saw mill. I cannot wait until next year when the parade will be bigger, and held both days. I go to many shows each year, but Nick's little show is still the best, and full of old fashioned fun.

Nick lives on the family farm, 1,800 acres still farmed by his sons, Nick and Jim. He was only 7 when he began working on the family farm. He worked in the '40s and '50s as head mechanic at Bauch's International Harvester dealership in nearby Brockport, N.Y.