Russ' Vintage Iron

Another Family Legacy Tractor Story

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Last month I wrote about my family's John Deere 1957 620 tractor, which has helped bring in the harvest for 55 straight years now. I invited others to share stories about their farm family's legacy tractors.

Ed Arndt, who lives on a farm in North Dakota right along the North Dakota/South Dakota border whose mailing address is New Effington, South Dakota, wrote me and told me about his 1950 Oliver 88 tractor.

He said the gas tractor was bought new by his uncle and he has owned it since "sometime in the sixties." It doesn't get used much anymore but it still runs and he will use the tractor for auger duty every once in a while on his southwest Richland County, North Dakota, farm.

Thanks to Ed for letting me know about his farm family's legacy tractor. I am guessing there are many more stories out there so if you have one please send it my way.

With New Year's rapidly approaching, I was thinking back to the holidays of my youth. We lived on a state highway just about a mile north of town. And people stopped at our place (more often than you think) because they had run out of gas.

I don't know if they thought they could make it to town on the remaining fumes they had in their fuel tanks but some didn't quite make it to the gas station a good mile and a half from our place.

Even early on one Christmas Day.

I was probably still in high school at the time but my folks and my two younger sisters had settled in for a long winter's nap when someone was knocking on the door. It was not Santa Claus and his reindeer but a younger woman who looked like she had too much Christmas Eve cheer.

She said her car had run out of gas and asked to use our phone. This would have probably been in the early 1990s, in the "old days" before everyone had a cell phone.

Anyway my dad let her use the phone but whoever she called was not home (or most likely sleeping it off) and didn't hear the phone. At that point my dad said he would call the sheriff for her, which she really didn't want him to do. (Gee, I wonder why?) She was out of our porch faster than old St. Nick delivering presents that night.

We never saw or hear from her again that Christmas. There was no car on the highway in front of our place. Was it a Christmas Miracle?

Well perhaps not because it seemed like every few months someone came walking up to the house asking to use the phone or if we had any gasoline they could use. We had some gas for the lawn mowers during the growing season but many times it was winter when the people would run out of gas and we didn't have any.

Looking back I could have made some bucks by charging people who ran their cars out of gas more than the going rate for a gallon of gas. With little choice, I think most of the people would have been willing to pony up for the much needed gasoline.

I have wondered if we still lived there if the amount of people running out of gas would be the same. I would guess maybe it would be less as newer vehicles will tell you exactly how many miles you can run your car before you are out of fuel.

Surely people wouldn't run their cars out of fuel if they knew the exact number of miles it could be driven, would they?

Now I live on a farm which is 6 miles from the closest village and it is a good 15 miles to a town of any size which actually has a gas station. We live on an unpaved, county road and we also have a 1/4 of mile lane, so needless to say, no one stops at our house.

Regardless if your farm is on a busy highway or quiet country road I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and has a Happy New Year. Just make sure your fuel tank has something in it!

Russ Quinn can be reached at