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I’d be rich if my dad had been a pack rat

3 vintage tractors
NOT FOR SALE: I may be turning into my dad, but I’m not selling off this restored Massey-Harris (far left) like Dad sold our tractors. It’s even in the will!
Front Porch: OK, maybe not rich, but there might be a few more dollars to go around.

A restored 1949 dark-green Chevrolet truck sitting in Richard and Steve Fellows toolshed brought back memories. So did their John Deere A tractor and their 4020 ... I could go on.

My late father had vehicles and machines that would have value today, but he sold them way before anyone realized there would be antique collectors chasing down old cars and tractors. Dad didn’t hold on to things — at least, not things that wound up being worth anything.

Why wasn’t he like his uncle? I remember Dad telling Mom in the 1970s that his “Uncle C” was running around to auctions, buying up old pieces of furniture and farm items — everything from egg baskets to old wooden dressers. Uncle C told my dad the stuff would be valuable someday. Some of it was.

Why didn’t Dad do that? Later in life, he told me the rest of the story, as the late Paul Harvey would say. When Uncle C was younger, in the ’30s and ’40s, he threw away everything in sight. If a chair went too long without being sat in, it got tossed onto the burn pile. He didn’t want any junk around!

Grandad’s old Chevy
The Fellowses’ ’49 Chevy truck reminded me of my Granddad Housefield’s Chevy car. It was a ’52 or ’53 model Chevy. I was young; I don’t remember exactly, and my late father and mother aren’t here to ask. Grandpa bought it used after he learned to drive — at age 70! I still remember as a kid sitting in the back seat, bouncing around to get a better view. Nobody had heard of seat belts, and certainly not car seats. Somehow, I’m still here today.

Grandpa came to live with us after Grandma died. He could no longer see well enough to drive, so he let Dad park his car in our circle drive with a “for sale” sign on it. Our milk hauler bought it — for $100! Both Dad and Grandpa thought they got a great price. Try finding one of those cars today!

Where is our tractor, Dad?
When my brother and I were in college, we decided we needed our own tractor. I don’t remember why we needed it, but we found someone willing to sell us an old Allis-Chalmers WC. He was greedier than Dad — we paid $300. Our friends helped us paint it, and we used it on the farm … when it would run.

Dad also had an Oliver 88. That thing would flat-out fly on the road. I remember plowing with a three-bottom plow — the kind where you reached back and tugged on a trip rope on the ends.

My brother and I went off to college and jobs. One day in the late 1970s we came home, and a new piece of equipment was in the driveway. But when we looked, the WC and 88 weren’t in the toolshed.

“Oh, I traded them off,” Dad said, smiling. “Got a good deal. We didn’t need them just sitting around here anymore. They weren’t worth much.”

I didn’t have the heart to inquire how much “not much” was. Some 40 years later, I’m sure they would be worth several times whatever “not much” was. 

My wife says I’m turning into my dad. I’m sure she’s waiting for the day when I start selling the stuff I’ve collected and decide my big boy toys “aren’t worth much!”

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