Last month I wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic had changed life for most everyone and how other historical events, including the end of War World II, affected farm life.
It was difficult for farmers to purchase farm machinery during the war due to raw materials being diverted to the war effort and war machinery. Many farmers had to turn to a black market-type of situation to find decent farm machinery at the time. Some waited to invest until the post-war era, including my own grandpa, who purchased his only new tractor for his eastern Nebraska farm, a mid-1940s Farmall M; about this same time he also purchased a new GMC pickup.
This tractor/pickup combination caught a reader's attention and they send me an email. Here is the email:
"I noticed the reference to the tractor and pickup in your article. I just had to share our story of a tractor and a pickup.
"I farm in central Illinois with my sister's family. We have one century farm and a second farm that will make the 100-year mark in the next two years or so.
"On this 75th anniversary of V-E DAY in Europe, I just had to tell our story of a tractor and a pickup.
"My dad was a 29 year-old army officer in Germany near the Elbe River where they hooked up with the Russians and helped force the end of WWII in Europe on May 8, 1945. He was 30 in April 1946 when he came back home to farm with his parents.
"He bought a new 1946 John Deere A tractor and a new 1947 Chevy pickup, the first truck I was allowed to drive by myself. We still have those one-owner items, along with numerous other items that my dad farmed with, some of which we still use today.
"I came back home to farm with my folks in 1978 at age 26, my dad was 62 then. You guessed it -- I had to buy a tractor and a pickup, imagine that!
"Today I am 68, still able to plant 200 acres of crops in a good day using autosteer. And in the fall, I have dumped as many as 14 semi loads of corn in a good day.
"My dad lived to be almost 100 years old in 2015; he was 95 when he showed us the Bronze Star he brought home from WWII. He never really retired, he just stopped working alongside us.
"My mother was a WWII Navy Wave (women's reserve) who worked with us as well as being a great mom until she passed in 2001. They really were part of the Greatest Generation!
"Thanks for making me sit down and write to you about our tractor and pickup story.
"And most of all, let us never forget on this important day all the heroes, all the sacrifice and all the dedication to the effort put forth that allowed us to be the sixth generation in Illinois to have a shot at this wonderful life that they all helped us have today!
"God bless them all! They gave me a chance to have a tractor and a pickup too!"
J. Roger Cooper
My thanks goes out to J. Roger for the interesting tale of his family's vintage tractor/pickup combinations.
There was a great post-war economic boom both in urban and rural areas of the country which lasted into the 1970s; this also led to the Baby Boom. Knowing this, I suppose it is not much of a surprise many farm families have the same story of purchasing tractors and vehicles after the war.
For many families, soldiers returning home to farm needed equipment and pickups, like J. Roger's father. This was a good economic time so many invested in their farming operations.
For my grandpa, he was already home and in his mid-40s (roughly the same age I am now) at the end of the war with three kids (again like me). He went through the economic good times -- so much so my grandparents had four more children (this is where the similarities end) including my dad who was born in 1947.
I'm sure others have similar family stories of the post-WWII time on American farms. If you have a story feel free to send them to me and we will post them in this space.
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN
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