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Two-Cylinder Memories

Agriculture.com Staff 01/26/2010 @ 9:00am

My wife and I recently attended an evening meeting of a two-cylinder club. This was quite exciting for us as it's as close as we'll ever get to going "night clubbing."

For the uninformed, a two-cylinder club is not some sort of a double-barreled cudgel; it's an association of people who are antique tractor aficionados. Specifically, they are Johnny Popper junkies. Green and yellow gearheads.

Having grown up driving John Deere A's and B's, I can totally empathize with these folks. I am among those who feel that the sound of a Johnny Popper is as soothing as a mother's heartbeat.

A meeting of a two-cylinder club is one of the few places where a heated argument might break out over the virtues of a pony motor vs. an electric starter. It's the rare gathering where the words "My favorite tractor is an M Farmall" would probably lead to bloodshed.

A guy named Bob Tabbert asked me to come and speak at the meeting of his two-cylinder club. I could tell instantly that he was a machine head, mainly due to the fact that "Tabbert" is suspiciously similar to the word "tappet."

Several dozen souls attended the meeting of the Siouxland Two-Cylinder Club. As one might imagine, there were a lot of plaid shirts and seed corn caps in the room. A number of ladies were also in attendance, which was a good thing. We all know what a rowdy crowd those antique tractor buffs can be.

It was gratifying to see that there were also some young families at the meeting. We need young people to move the shift lever of enthusiasm and engage the clutch of dedication in order to keep our traditions plowing ahead. Without the sparkplug of youth, our past would soon be as dead as a waterlogged magneto.

When our boys were small, we exposed them to old-time tractors on a regular basis by taking them to such things as Old Timer's Days and the threshing jamboree at Prairie Village. Both boys were highly impressed by these prehistoric contraptions, but the biggest impact was on our eldest son, Paul.

In fact, the first time we returned home from a field trip to Prairie Village, Paul proceeded to construct a fully functional miniature steam engine! Sort of. From a certain point of view. Let's just say that the fulfillment of his dreams was stymied by the limitations of Lego technology.

Speaking of technology, when I was growing up on those old tractors, I was painfully aware of how far behind the times we were. After all, the Space Age was well under way yet there I was, stuck on a machine that was deemed "modern" at the dawn of the Second World War. It was like using a hand-cranked, punch-key cash register in this age of computerized laser bar code scanners.

When I was young I heard rumors of this thing called a "tractor cab," but had never seen one in person. Supposedly, cabs kept the operator out of the dust and the rain and mitigated the effects of cold and heat. My deep-seated fear of being spattered by the shrieking seagulls that wheeled overhead would have been eliminated by one of those mystical cabs.

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