Gas Engine Magazine


By Staff

Route 2, Box 330 Irrigon, Oregon 97844

The first time that I met Ambrie was at the marriage of one of
my wife’s relatives. Ambrie Bagley was a truck gardener for
many years, owning and managing Chestnut Farms in Salem, Oregon. My
wife and I had recently migrated to eastern Oregon with our three
children to try our luck at farming, so Ambrie and I had something
in common. We spent a good deal of time telling each other what we
knew. As he knew a lot more than I, he did most of the talking.
Anyway, Ambrie and I ended our first meeting on a positive

It was sometime later that Ambrie stopped by our farm on his way
to a football game involving Oregon State. After discussing the
crops that we were raising, the irrigation, the weather, and
purposely avoiding politics, Ambrie asked, ‘What kind of
tractor do you have?’

In a low voice, almost hoping that he wouldn’t hear, I said,
‘I have a 1942 Model B John Deere, serial #128085, with a #5
mower.’ I was sure what he owned would be far superior to

He said, ‘I have a John Deere ‘A’ and a Case with a
front end loader.’

Sometime later my wife and I were visiting one of our daughters
who was at college in Monmouth, Oregon. We decided to pay Ambrie
and his wife a visit since they lived only a few miles from our
daughter’s apartment.

Ambrie and his wife, Thelma, were glad to see us and he and I
toured his few acres and looked at his four or five head of cattle.
He mentioned that he would like to get some of our good Eastern
Oregon hay as it was much higher in protein than what was available
in his area.

I could see that his cattle were only as wide as they were tall
and that something had to be done. (Must be like cutting holes in
the bottom of the Titanic to let the water out.)

I agreed to haul Ambrie four tons of alfalfa hay when it was
convenient for both of us. It was only about two hundred and fifty
miles each way and as the old 1949 Chevy truck had thirty five
years experience, you can see that it was, as they say, ‘a
piece of cake’.

Ambrie must have a thing about Sweet Meat squash as he always
had a shed full. He would insist that we return home with a dozen
or so. However, I didn’t mind. They were easily converted to
pumpkin pie if I applied enough charm.

This hay hauling had gone on for several years and I would see
the Case with the loader, but never the John Deere ‘A’. I
knew he had told me he had a John Deere because I can remember the
John Deere tractor particulars pretty well for a person who does
not always remember to zip his fly.

I asked Ambrie if he still had the John Deere ‘A’ and he
said that he did and it was ‘out there in that shed’,
pointing to a small building partly covered with vines.

I asked if I might look at it and he said, ‘Sure’, as he
started off for the building.

I followed, visualizing a row crop ‘A’ with a tricycle
front. But, as he opened a small door and I stumbled in behind him,
I could see that this was a whole new ball game. Ambrie rolled back
the main door and there stood ‘AO Streamline’ #1072 in all
its charm and glory. A little lumpy from the encounters with what
grows and rests on farms, but all parts intact. A 1937 John Deere
which Ambrie tells me he bought new.

By now my eyes were as big as silver dollars and immediately I
began to think how I might end up with this tractor when Ambrie was
through using it.

The hay hauling went on for a couple of years and each trip I
would offer to buy his John Deere when he was through with it.

Eventually Ambrie was unable to tend his cattle and needed no
more hay, so we added to the Christmas cards that we would buy the
John Deere when he wanted to part with it. A daughter answered the
last card and said that he would not need the tractor and was glad
that we were interested in it.

We now have the John Deere ‘A’ because I remembered to
inquire about it. It is the important things you remember in life
that count.

  • Published on Jan 1, 1990
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