In Search of…

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4429 Hallet Street Rockville, Maryland 20853

My search started in February of 1997. At the time, I didn’t yet realize what I was searching for. I had just bought a 1949 Standard Twin garden tractor which I knew nothing about. Trying to get educated, I advertised on the ATIS list seeking information. Mark Bookout, who lived in Alabama at the time, responded to my plea and we started to exchange e-mails. This was the start of a solid friendship.

Then in the fall of 1997, the advertisements for the first Oscar’s Dreamland auction started to appear. I sent for the catalog, and in it there was a Standard Twin, a Suburbanite, a Kinkade and a Beeman, along with countless other items. After numerous e-mails with Mark, who had since moved back to his hometown of St James, Missouri, we decided that we should take the next step and ask our spouses for their blessings to make the trip. Blessing asked for and given, the reservations were made and I picked up Mark, actually meeting face to face for the first time, and away we went.

Derek Watt of 4429 Hallet Street, Rockville, Maryland 20853 is the owner of this Suburbanite 2-cycle garden tractor dating from the early 1950s.

Upon arrival at Oscar’s, we looked at all of the items for sale. Mark decided to bid on the Beeman, and I choose the Suburbanite. As it turned out, both the Beeman and the Suburbanite went higher than our budgets allowed, so we both came home empty-handed. It was a great adventure. However, the Suburbanite bug had bitten me. Yes, one day a Suburbanite would be mine.

I found one for sale in Minnesota– too much! I was outbid for one on e-Bay at the last second–RATS! Then at the 2000 Beilers farm auction, there was a Suburbanite in nice original condition with attachments. The bidding between one other gentleman and myself for the Suburbanite was fierce. Once again, I was denied due to my unwilling ness to own one at any cost. So I did what any other person would do in that situation. I started to whine about my misfortune to several folks who happened to be within hearing range. Hoping to shut me up, Norm Crone spoke the magic words, ‘You know, Jim Crone (a distant cousin of Norm) has one.’ My spirits re-energized, I called Jim when I got home. He stated that he really didn’t want to sell it. I gave him my number and told him to let me know if he changed his mind. Two months later, I ran into Jim at the Cumberland Valley Spring Show and broached the subject about his selling me his Suburbanite. Again the answer was no, he really didn’t want to sell it, but he would let me know if he changed his mind. I then decided that I would ask him every time I saw him. Well, about two weeks later, before I became a complete nuisance, Jim called me and asked if I wanted to pay him a visit. On the agreed-upon date, my brother-in-law Bill Thorpe and I showed up on Jim Crone’s doorstep and the negotiations started. Jim stated a price and I shook my head and told him it was too much. We then walked around looking at his collection, not talking about the Suburbanite for awhile. I then asked him again what he wanted for it. This went on for several hours until I finally gave Jim my final offer. Laughing, Jim replied ‘Well, since I’m going to see you at six or seven shows this year and you’re going to pester me about this, go ahead and take it home with you.’ With the deal completed, Bill and I loaded the Suburbanite into the back of the truck and went home.

Other than the usual dirt and grime, along with some of the rubber knobs on the wheel missing, my Suburbanite seemed to be in reasonably good shape. I had only to clean the points to get it to run. With that accomplished, I tore it apart, cleaned and painted it in time for the Boring, Maryland, show in June.

The Suburbanite is a single wheel, 2-cycle garden tractor made for three years in the early 1950s by the American Farm Machinery Company–the same folks that made the Kinkade garden tractor.

I’m not sure if I’m looking for anything right now. I suppose if I see something I have to have, I’ll again be in search of.

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