THE BIG FOUR


| September/October 1964



Crane, Montana

I had been sawing lumber in the mid-twenties with an old 1916 Emmerson Brantingham for power. I had gotten it for five dollars. Some one had been moving it across country and had stopped and gotten drunk, so it had frozen and busted. I had patched it up.

My uncle thought I needed a bigger tractor. So in 1930 he bid on a Big 4 at an auction sale, because the auctioneer was bragging it up. It was really in wonderful shape, according to him. My uncle got it for $55.00 and found the price included a grain separator and a big plow.

The next day I went down to look over my new possession. I worked all day on it by myself. I wrapped the rotten radiator hose and disturbed the mice.

Two days later I was able to get a neighbor to go with me and we planned to bring it right home. We went in his truck with two barrels of water, a half a barrel of gas and all kinds of tools. After working all day, we finally got the Big 4 started. The grain separator was hooked on just behind the tractor, and the plow behind that. We decided to leave them that way, so off we started. The plow had sat there so long that a twelve foot cottonwood had grown up through it. When we started up we watched the plow climb the tree and tip it, and peel the bark from it. We turned in that crowded yard and were headed toward a shed barn. We disengaged the clutch and the Big 4 wouldn't stop rolling. It was going straight toward the shed! I didn't want to kill the motor after cranking on it all day, but I had to in order to save the shed. We drained the water out and quit for the night.

That night I drove over to see my uncle. I asked, 'What about that clutch?'