An Old Friend Is Found

| May/June 1992

R.D.2, Box 71-P, Isle LaMotte, Vermont 05463

About four years ago, my brother-in-law, Reed Benton, mentioned that his friend Ernie Sutton had acquired an old Case tractor. It seems that Ernie was working near Rhinebeck, New York with a crew that had been hired to clear some overgrown farm land. Someone in the crew stuck his chain saw into a thicket and encountered an object the saw wouldn't cut. Fortunately, the old Case tractor hiding in the thicket wasn't the least bit harmed by the inattentive woodcutter who suddenly learned the fine art of looking where he was sticking his saw.

Ernie inquired about the tractor and was told by the property owner, 'If you want that thing, get it out of here!' Ernie promptly had the rusty relic trucked to his home in Millerton where, with the help of Reed and George Goes-singer, he removed the head, unstuck the pistons and cleaned up the magneto. Much to Reed's surprise, the local Big A store in Dover Plains had the WICO mag points right in stock. In April, three turns of the crank had the old Case back to life.

Later that spring, I drove down from Vermont and stopped to examine the machine, which proved to be a 1931 Model CO on steel, bearing the serial number C 303484- I was astounded to discover it was the very tractor our family had once owned and which I had operated as a teenager in the 1950s. Ernie and I struck a deal and I was a bona fide tractor collector! My grandfather, Walter Cramer, purchased the Case new in 1931 for use on his farm in Rhinebeck; he grew violets and nurtured a large apple orchard on property that had been in family possession for over 200 years., My grandmother sold the tractor around 1960 to a local farmer but we had no clues as to its final destiny after it left the farm. Finding my 'old friend' after a lapse of 30 years is certainly quite a miracle!

Reed is storing the tractor at his shop about 30 miles from Rhinebeck; he's threatening me with something to the effect that possession is nine tenths of the law. So to get it out of his hands, we're taking it back to Rhinebeck on May 16 and 17 for participation in the 15th annual Antique Machinery & Oldtime Crafts Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds are only a few hundred yards from the family homestead, so we'll be able to say that our old friend has also come home.