- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) - Tim Vickery was one proud 15-year-old kid the day that he rode back from Elberton, Ga., sitting atop a 1964 International Farmall tractor.

It was close to 30 years ago now when he made that trip to a dairy farm and bought his first and very own tractor.

“We didn’t have a trailer big enough for it,” Vickery said. “So I drove it all the way home. I was so proud. The tractor still had its work clothes on.”

By “work clothes,” Vickery means that it was not a show tractor. It had been used - for years. When it made it back to Anderson County, to the Vickery family farm, it was used again.

“We never got it completely restored,” Vickery said. “We used it to pull the hay baler.”

For him, his first tractor holds the same respect in his memory as another teen’s first car. And that tractor still has a home on his farm.

That’s the way tractor guys are.

You won’t catch them hauling the large machines to a scrapyard. Not a chance. They might recycle old models for parts. But they will fight to keep them from the trash heap.

“When you boil the pot down, we grew up with tractors,” said Pat Carpenter, another tractor enthusiast. “It is something that gets in your blood. It rips my knickers to see one going to the junkyard.”

Vickery, Carpenter and Ronnie Mattison were among those who had some of their prized tractors on display at the Anderson County Fair recently. About 15 to 20 tractors were on display inside the Civic Center of Anderson.

About three-fourths of those tractors were from those three men.

For May, June and then a couple of months in the fall, they will travel across the region - and even as far away as Florida and Indiana - to show off their tractors.

“In two weeks, I will go to a show in Hickory, N.C.,” Carpenter said.

When they are not traveling to tractor shows, they are looking for tractors or restoring them. They go hunting for old ones in barns, fields and have found particular models they were looking for, on sale on the Internet.

They do it because they grew up on farms. They love the big machines.

Like the old, rusty 1935 McCormick Deering Super W30 that Pat Carpenter had on display. He found it through an ad. A man in Bismarck, N.D., was selling it. It is the same type and model tractor that Carpenter’s father had when Carpenter was a boy.

Carpenter grew up on a “wore out, old cotton farm” in Cherryville, N.C. His mother and father married in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. They worked hard for what they had. They never bought on credit and used things until they absolutely fell apart.

“When we got that first bale of cotton done, mama already had that linoleum picked out for the house,” Carpenter said. “She waited until we had the money. Daddy told us to pick it up from the store on the way back from selling that first cotton.”

So now, that McCormick-Deering tractor he has is the one he treasures the most, he said.

It reminds him of his father, of simpler days and of countless days plowing fields.

“I was some proud boy when that thing came rolling up in the driveway,” Carpenter said.

Same thing for Vickery. The tractors he brought to display at the fair have signs in front of them naming the farm that they are from - Spring Valley Farm - and noting that they are there in memory of his father, Gary Vickery.

One of those tractors is a gray and red 1952 Ford BN tractor that is the same make and model of the one that Vickery’s father used on their beef farm.

“I would have dad’s here, except he wore his slap out,” Vickery said. “That Ford BN was the first tractor dad ever owned. It was his favorite tractor, and he bought it when I was just a little boy.”

Vickery is 44 now. He still operates that beef farm. He does not just show tractors. He still uses them, too.

So does Ronnie Mattison. Two of the tractors he had on display at the fair were covered with dirt - not just dust. One of them that he brought, an orange-colored Model G Allis Chalmers, is one he uses to cultivate the ground for his garden.

He brought a small, yellow, slightly rusty 1961 Cub Cadet, Mattison, too. It belongs to his 10-year-old grandson - showing that tractor guys were first tractor boys.

“He started riding when he was 6,” Mattison said. “My son made an extension for the clutch. And he loves it. Tractors and farming is our hobby. Some guys like to golf. We like tractors.”


Information from: Anderson Independent-Mail, https://www.andersonsc.com



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