Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes


I found this Minneapolis Moline tractor replica at a garage sale I took my wife to. I don’t intentionally do garage sales but occasionally an interesting item pops up. I am at that age where I do not try to accumulate anymore worldly treasures. Just seems like more junk to leave to someone to dispose of after they dispose of me. But this one just called out to me.

It really isn’t much of a tractor replica, more of an abstract collection of parts and could be many things if not painted that iconic yellow/orange with the Minneapolis Moline logo on the side. It started out life as a Singer sewing machine and was repurposed for some nostalgic antique tractor buff.

When I was a very small kid, I remember my grandfather’s Minneapolis Moline Z tractor. I do not believe it ever ran during my lifetime. Just sat in the grass on the north side of the hog barn. My sister and I used to climb up on it and pretend we were driving tractor when we were very young. There were lots of levers that moved back and forth with a satisfying clunk while we shifted gears and engaged the power on our imaginary adventures.

One day my activity aroused a bumble bee which had taken up residence under neath the metal cowling of the tractor. He proceeded to sting me on the arm and I ran to the house howling for my mom. She put salve on my wound and soothed my pain but told me not to play on it any more. That was her standard advice when I did something she felt could harm me. I climbed the silo. She told me not to. I went up in the hay loft, she told me not to. Eventually I learned to not tell her what I did. My dad just figured what didn’t kill me, made me stronger. That is why young boys hang out with dad more often.

It had a great history on the farm though. I believe it was the first rubber-tired tractor that my grandfather owned. They were made between 1949 and 1953. The Z was rated at 36 horsepower on the belt and 32 horsepower at the drawbar. My neighbor Richard Matti told me once about how proud my grandfather was of it and they used it to power a threshing machine in the early years.

One story related to me was how one fall it was very cold when they were doing fall plowing and my grandfather would drive the farm pickup along-side the tractor in the field. The hired man would drop the plow in the ground and tie the steering wheel with a rope and then ride in the warmth of the pickup to the other end of the field. It went slow enough with a two-bottom plow that he could easily climb on and off while it was moving. He would climb aboard, untie the rope and raise the plow out of the ground at the end of the field in time to turn it around and then get back in the warm pickup as the tractor lumbered along turning over the soil. The kind of activity we all learned not to tell mom about until much later.

We live in the house where my grandparent’s spent their final years. My wife suggested putting it in the room where my grandmother kept her sewing machine. One piece of history to remind me of both my grandparents. It seemed worth it to bring home this treasure. Although now I know the real treasure are the memories about two wonderful people that it brings back to me.