This week-end is the annual “Old Threshers Reunion” in the next county over from where I live. Several similar-themed events have been held across the Midwest in recent weeks. I love the sights and smells associated with this showcase of daily farm life from the turn of the 20th century through the mid-1900′s.
“Do you have rustitis?” If you spend much time with collectors of antique tractors, you could very well be asked that question. Rustitis, I have been told, is what you get when you buy your first antique tractor.
Attending an antique tractor show a decade ago, my friend John Harvey, founder of Classic Tractor Fever, explained that if you collect and restore tractors, it becomes a disease. When you have a disease, you run a fever, thus the name of his company. “Believe me, Cyndi, everybody around here has a fever!”
John worked in advertising and public relations for Dupont when I met him almost 30 years ago. It’s hard to believe that the company which features the Classic Farm Tractor Calendar, antique tractor related clothing, books, tapes, and other collectable merchandise all started because of a soybean herbicide.
“In 1988 I was with Dupont, and the new soybean herbicide Classic was going to be introduced,” Harvey said. “The marketing manager, having just returned from the European market where Dupont products were promoted on calendars, came in to my office with the idea to do a classic car calendar to promote the new herbicide. I thought about it for a minute and told him that there might be something a little more farmer friendly.”
The first Classic Tractor Calendar was introduced by Dupont in 1990. Just a couple of years later, John Harvey left Dupont and started his own business, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
I personally do not have the rustitis disease. I have a great appreciation for the classic tractors, and truly enjoy seeing them and visiting with those who own and restore them. Everybody has a story. Many of them bring before and after pictures.
This is a cross-generational and certainly not a sexist hobby. There are typically as many women driving tractors in the daily parade of classic tractors as there are men. That is truly a reflection of farming and the farm family of the 20th century.
John told me once that these shows, the calendars and collectibles are all about memories.
“We were all born in the 20th century. Our parents and most of our kids were born in this century. We are talking about a special piece of American history. We were all there. We were all involved in it. Because so many of us were involved in agriculture, the tractor is such a great symbol of what we remember and how farming and how farm families were in the 20th century.”
It is a great way to preserve that piece of American history.