Milton Deets Memories of Farm Tractors

Milton Deets shares his memories of farm tractors and changing over from horse drawn equipment to gas powered farm machines.

Rumely Oil-Pull with the model Case thresher

Photo courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana.


Content Tools

Spark Plug of the Month Milton Deets waxes poetic on his memories of farm tractors. 

Dayton Daily News & Radio's "Joe's Journal"

A western saddle was his first cradle, the whinney of a buckin' broncho his first lullaby, the staccatto of horses' hooves on the western plain his baby rattle. To his Dad the western horse was a first-love. But to young Milton Deets, who loved things other than horse-flesh, that boyhood pony his father had given him was but a means of conveyance across the western plains to wherever his first-love, the threshing machines, were harvesting the golden grain.

"I grew up on a ranch in western Nebraska," says Milton. "I'd ride a pony for miles just to watch a thresher in operation. Dad tried his best to make a horse lover out of me, but I fell in love with farm machinery instead."

But wood, coal and water were not as plentiful on the western plain as in other parts of this great and fertile country of ours. Hence steam, the main source of agriculture power elsewhere in our land, played second fiddle to those creeping, crawling and grinding iron monsters, categorized in the evolutionary development of internal combustion as farm tractors. And the lure of combustible gasses pulsating through the exhaust pipes from the compression chambers of such newfangled agriculture giants were awe-inspiring to the eyes and ears of young Deets.

But Milton Deets, in love with the big farm tractors of his day, still was not completely divorced from the wonderful world of horses in which his early years were nurtured.

"I worked my way through high school by hiring out in a blacksmith shop in North Platte, Nebraska," says Deets. "It was here that I started to learn mechanics and welding. Later I joined the army and spent six years in machine and welding shops, two years of which were spent in Iceland."

Since the war, Milton Deets has been employed as a Research Machinist and is presently a welding technician in a Dayton, Ohio, plant.

But some of his most pleasant memories stem from those years of young manhood when Deets hired out with some of the big western threshing rings, matching his brawn and bone at pitching bundles and scooping the golden grain with the rest of the husky western farm-hands.

One of the pleasanter sights at any midwestern threshermen's reunion is when father and son, Milton and Doug Deets, come rumbling down the midway with their diminutive Rumely Oil-Pull with the model Case thresher hooked on behind. Or, even better, should the mood of the moment demand, when Dad hops up on one of his big-sized antique farm tractors and putters across the parade grounds with Doug and his diminutive threshin' rig trailing alongside. Anywhere you see them, they present the perfect father-and-son threshing team. And when the two of 'em really get hooked up with belts flopping, and the grain starts belching forth from both large and small threshin' rigs for the reunion crowds to watch, the whole "derned" sight takes on a sort of religious aura of "Father, Son and Holy Exhaust Smoke" — world without end, Amen. And more lately, with daughter, Kay, learning to jerk throttle on some of the steam engines at the threshermen's  reunions, well there's no scriptural terminology quite up to describing the situation that ultimately transpires when all three Deetses go rumbling over the grounds.

Older generation passes on knowledge of engines to the younger. Milton Deets points out a thing or two on Model Rumely Oil-Pull to son, Doug. One of the pleasanter sights at the Darke County Threshers, Greenville, in western Ohio. Milton built the little Rumely Oil-Pull and Case Thresher.

Sometimes this father-son team hop on Dad's Big Twin City Double-M Tractor. Doug Deets at the wheel, Dad, Milton Deets riding along.

Not one to hoard his treasured antique gas tractors from the public eye, Milton Deets has built a museum at Dayton, Ohio, for the exhibiting of vintage internal-combustion power ranging from the era of 1919 through 1934.

To Spark Plug of the Month, Milton Deets, and young "Spark-Plugger" Doug, we proudly doff our hats. For here is exhibited the eternal wisdom of the older generation infusing knowledge into the younger generation in the hopes that what is good and valuable shall remain forever.

"My hope is that enough young people will become interested in our hobby to preserve it for posterity," says Milton Deets, a long affiliate on the board of directors of the Darke County Steam Threshers in western Ohio. "We should encourage youngsters to show their equipment and take an active part in putting on the show. If we fail in this, the old machinery we have restored may once again be relegated to the junk pile from which we rescued it."

"If we take the time to let a youngster toot the whistle, shift a gear or turn a steering wheel," sums up Spark Plug of the Month, Milt Deets, "It might be the start of a very interesting hobby for him and for generations yet to come."

Though to ye editor, Brother Elmer Ritzman, must go the credit of preaching many a fine sermon on biblical scripture, no more fitting sermon than this, preached by Brother Deets, has ever been pounded from a country church pulpit.

Do we hear a resounding, "Amen!", from Brother Ritzman on this?

Our ears are waiting. Or maybe "Uncle Jake" could squeeze an "Amen" from Brother Elmer out of his "Printing Pie".