Johnny poppers

Johnny popper is a funny sounding name for a tractor; I first heard it while watching a cable show on the RFDTV channel. That is a channel about all things rural, some fun, some boring, some are quite entertaining, at least to me.

Sunday morning my husband and I were “livin’ the dream” on our deck, reading the paper and swilling coffee. It was a perfect summer morning, a slight breeze from the north blew the freeway noise away from us and no one was mowing their lawn for a change, so it was very quiet.  I was deep into a story about the latest straw poll when my ears picked up a noise that is seared into my memory. It was a Johnny popper coming down the road.  I felt compelled to jump up and do some kind of work.

The older style John Deere tractors have as distinctive a popping put-put sound as a Harley Davidson does.  Growing up on the farm, all we had were John Deere tractors. As kids, we could tell how close to the house or barn our dad was by the sound of the tractor. The closer it was the faster we moved to get our chores done!

We had John Deere models A, B, 50, 60 and 70 while I was on the farm, the A and B models had to be started by cranking over a flywheel. It was in your best interest to NOT let it quit. As a short person, I couldn’t get the leverage needed to make the flywheel do its job. But I did like the size of them. I could sit on the front edge of the seat and reach the clutch and shift and still see over the steering wheel!  I have driven a big John Deere 4020 and it’s too much tractor for me. My brother now broke tradition and bought a big orange Kubota, it just doesn’t look right out in the field!

OK, back to the story:

Heading toward Roberts for a threshing bee was not one but four John Deere tractors, all circa 1941-1954. No diesel driven enclosed cabs with AC and stereo but with the drivers sitting up on metal seats catching bugs in their big smiles, enjoying a Sunday morning drive in the country.  It was our former neighbor Steve Parson and his daughter Hillary, who owns her own 1942 B model tractor, Irwin Bird and his friend Marv Peterson.  They were wheeling out to Roberts for the annual threshing bee and antique machinery event. The bee used to be held at a farm on Glover Road, but switched to Roberts this year.   

Later in the day I heard ‘the sound’ times 4, from about a mile away. I grabbed this photo of them as they were driving back to Hudson. I really wanted to hop on and take a spin through the field, but then thought about some chores I need to do!  

Do you have a favorite tractor story to share? Leave a note here on my blog for others to enjoy, thanks!

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