Monday, February 20, 2017

For the love of tractors (part 2)

We had lived south of Oak Grove for seven years when we decided to put our twenty acres up for sale and buy ourselves a farm in north Missouri.  Now, any farmers reading this will understand just how crazy this idea was when I tell you the year was 1974.  People were getting OUT of farming then, not getting into it.

Gerald and his wife found a place near them we could rent, so we moved with our cows, alfalfa hay, the tractor, and other worldly possessions to an old farmhouse near Coffey, Missouri.  Cliff got a job at a butcher shop in Trenton.  Now that we lived near Gerald, Cliff got to help him get his fields ready for planting again, but this time he REALLY did it in style!  Now Gerald's big tractor was a 1750 Oliver.  That was a thrill in itself, Cliff says, because of the size of it.  You knew at a distance it was the 1750 by the noise from the transmission gears.

Cliff went with Gerald to an Oliver dealer during that time to look at a 2255, but Gerald said it was too big for him; it wasn't long afterward, however, that he had one.  "What a horse!" Cliff said, mouth agape.  Driving that tractor, he later informed me, improved his manhood.  He only recalls running it one time, but what a thrill.

Cliff is having trouble establishing the actual timeline here, but at various times Gerald had other Olivers, a 1955 he still owns, and an 1855.  There's a reason you will always find an Oliver in Cliff's collection, and that reason is Gerald York.  He's also why we have an Allis Chalmers D-17.  

Gerald has always been a perfectionist in everything he does.  He's built cabinets and can weld like a pro, and when he makes up his mind to do something, it will be done right.  He once built a huge blade from scratch that Cliff couldn't even believe, it was so marvelous in its perfection. 

But Gerald's passion has always been in restoring classic cars to like-new perfection.  He taught himself to paint and do the body-work and wiring.  He did the motor overhauls.  When he was done with a car, it was an unbelievable thing of beauty.  You can go HERE to see an entry I did about the car above when he was still working on it.

Here's another prize-winner.

Cliff carries Gerald's influence with him always, and speaks of him often, referring to him at times as "genius".  I hope and pray my cousin realizes how much he really means to a city-boy gone country, and how important he has always been to both of us.  

I leave you with a quote from my favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life":

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

We are going to miss Gerald.  He doesn't have much more time to live on this earth according to the hospice nurse.  I hope he knows how we feel.  

Keep the light on for us, Cousin.


Lori said...

What a lovely tribute. I hope Gerald knows, too, and he probably does. I'm so sorry you are losing your friend and cousin, and I hope his last hours are peaceful ones with family around him. What a great legacy he will have left.


Gerald sounds like quite a guy. Glad Cliff had him to look up to. You both are a living tribute to his life lived.

Mary Degli Esposti said...

I am so very sorry.

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