The Family Tractor

Yesterday my husband and I went out to his parents’ farm to help them with a simple chore.  My in-laws needed a new mattress in their bedroom, but their stairs were built so many years ago that a modern mattress doesn’t fit up the stairwell.  So my father-in-law’s only other option was to take out a window, and then hoist the mattress up from the lawn to the second story.

Needless to say, the plan was simple but the execution of the plan was nearly impossible.  Ladders?  No way to hang on and lift a big mattress.  Standing on a trailer?  Too short.  Scaffolding?  Not available.  Rocket jet packs?  Also not available.


The final solution proved to be the Oliver, the trusty family tractor.  Eric’s grandpa purchased it new in 1965 and it’s been living in the big barn ever since.  My husband even drove it to school on the last day of his senior year, with all the other kids whose families had farm tractors (there were at least ten of them).   But back to the mattress hoisting—the Oliver has nice flat fenders, perfect platforms for standing to shove a bed through a window.  Keep that in mind in case you ever run into this dilemma.  You could probably also use your vintage Oliver for, say, painting the house or pruning a tree.

Once the chore was finished, Grandpa popped the antique window back into place and Eric drove the tractor back to the barn.  Our son climbed up in his lap, my daughter sat on a fender, and they putted off.  All of a sudden it was 1982 and I was a child on my own dad’s tractor fender, riding the tractor back to the barn.  My little brother or sister sat on Dad’s lap, riding through rutted fields and lanes.

In a rush of emotion I ran for the camera, just like my own mom did thirty years ago.  I would have loved to post pictures from my childhood alongside these, but that would have meant a forty-five minute drive to my parents’ house, an hour long search through old albums, thirty minutes fussing with the scanner, and then another long drive home.  So those pictures will have to wait.  But trust me, they are remarkably similar.  I’m sure Eric’s mother has nearly identical ones to my mom’s hidden in her own albums.

So here’s to history repeating itself with our children.  It’s really nice, in this age of wireless video games and technology, to know that some things stay the same for them.


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