Pedal Tractors Parked Under the Tree

| 12/6/2012 3:21:05 PM

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What rings more clearly in memory than recollection of holidays long since past? An extensive collection of rare pedal tractors — the subject of Bill Vossler's article Pedal Tractor Pride — is rich fodder for nostalgic reflections.

It is easy to look at collector Ron Fratzke’s relics and imagine the joyous squeals that greeted a gleaming new pedal tractor on some long-off Christmas morning. They say a man never forgets his first car; I’m betting the memory of his first pedal tractor — his first steering wheel! — looms equally large.

Today’s is a different world; I don’t know if pedal tractors are used as aggressively as they were decades ago, in a time before cable TV, video games, countless organized activities and a general glut of playthings in the average child’s life.

Back in the day, however, pedal tractors were subjected to use only slightly less rigorous than that experienced by tanks on the battlefield. OEM pedal tractors were routinely put to work in gravel, dirt, mud and sandbox. Those modified to handle implements or carts pulled their weight and then some (that of the long suffering family dog, for instance, or a couple of the smaller cousins).

Nor was it unusual, decades ago, for a pedal tractor to become a “hand-me-down” passed along to every child in the family. Used and abused, left outside, battered survivor of misadventures that invariably involved too much of something (speed, slope, weight), the average pedal tractor was pretty well spent by the time the kids moved on to bikes. It is no wonder that a good original is hard to find!

But the lowly pedal tractor was more than just fun and games. By the time the average child graduated from his pedal tractor days, he or she had a very clear idea of what tractors were used for and their importance on the family farm. In the world of toys, there aren’t that many that allow a child to test drive dad’s occupation, but farm kids have long enjoyed an enormous selection of farm-related toys.


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