FRED WRAIGHT was born and raised in Veteran, Alberta, and farmed there most of his life. Up until the time of his death, he had collected and restored over 100 tractors, over 100 pump engines, and numerous other antiques, mostly farm related. This obituary says little of Fred's ambition or abilities. He was Mr. Fix Anything in our community. Many nights he could be found in his shop at 11:00 or 12:00 fixing a starter or generator to get some neighbor combining or seeding again in the morning. Since moving to the Watson farm 17 years ago I've probably said to my wife at least 10,000 times, 'I'm running over to Fred's to get something fixed.'
His abilities to restore his beloved pump engines or old tractors were amazing. I remember one time a man dropped off a piece of cast iron he had found in the dump. It was an old seized air cooled engine with no magneto. Fred had it running in two days.
He was happiest when a vehicle would pull into the yard with a load of retirees wanting to see his old tractors. In about 10 minutes you would hear the inevitable line, 'Look at that! My Dad had one of those. Will that one run?' Without saying a word Fred would grab his old squirt can of gas, prime the engine, and in one or two flips of the crank the old engine would cough and come to life. Sometimes the familiar sound would bring a tear to an old timer's eye as he listened to the engine that he had run for so many hours, a long time ago. Many an interested spectator ended up staying hours longer than he had intended.
Fred was never idle; he got up every morning to go to work. Thousands of hours of hard work went into his collection. It was completed without a big budget, it was an ambitious labor of love.
Fred's younger brother Tom and Fred McDiarmid came up with this little yarn to share with you:
As we look down these rows we see Minnies, an Allis, a John
Deere or two,
We've got Masseys, Twin Citys and is that a Waterloo?
Hart Parr, Rumely and there's an old Cat,
Case, I.H. and Rock Island, never heard of that.
Where did they come from, all these tractors in a row?
From Drumheller, to Battleford, to Moose jaw and Elbow.
Some in fence corners, some in the trees,
Some in the buckbrush, there's Fred digging on his knees.
We've got wheels, blocks, clutches and a rad,
A gear is missing, 'I'll make that, it won't be bad.'
Now let's look in this shed and see what we see.
Why that's a pump engine running as smooth as can be,
Assembled from pieces, bartered far and wide,
I think that's a Fairbanks over on that side.
Listen they're talking, we better stand still.
'If we don't idle perfect we're up on the hill!'
Oh, look at the one tons, shiny and neat,
The workmanship on these is hard to beat.
A Federal, a Rio, a Chev and a Ford Model B,
Which took a whole winter to complete as you see.
Some of these fenders were rusted, twisted and bent when found
But he pounded, and welded and sanded till round.
What's in here? Antiques galore,
Churns, lanterns, lamps and much more.
To sales around the country Fred and Shirley would go,
To add to their collection to put out on show.
The tour's interrupted, Fred's gone to the shop,
A truck's arrived with a broken shaft on top.
The farmer says, 'Fred, would you please take a look?'
'No problem,' he says, 'I don't need no darn book.'
And Fred now that you've been called home,
We'll miss you, we feel all alone.
If ever there's a breakdown in the Throne on High,
We know there's a competent mechanic on standby.
Poem by Fred McDiarmid & Tom Wraight. Submitted by Peter Dart, 3796 Arthur Dr., R.R. 1, Ladner, British Columbia, V4K 3N 2.
Another of our members, PAUL FRAZIER, from Calumet, Oklahoma, has passed on from this life. Paul has long worked to preserve the old farm way of life that we try to pass to the new generations. He had a matched pair of ponies that he showed with great pride.
It has been a pleasure to know and work with Paul over the years and he will be missed by many of us.
Submitted by Herb Little, President, and Dot Fry, Secretary, Oklahoma Steam Threshers & Gas Engine Association.