Red Baby

| September/October 1990

Peter Kaake

Peter Kaake on the running board, November 1928.

Box 338 Cabri, Saskatchewan, Canada SON 0J0

In 1927, my dad decided to change the operation of his grain farm from horse power to mechanization and so in the fall of that year, he had an auction to sell horses and related farm equipment.

Besides using the sale money to buy an I.H.C. 22-36 tractor, he also bought a new 1928 I.H.C. 11/4ton grain truck, an S-26. The new model trucks coming on the market at that time were still being painted dark somber colors like black and green and so it was surprising that this particular vehicle arrived covered throughout in bright red. It was advertised as the Red Baby. It had four wheel brakes, a six cylinder motor and came equipped with its own air compressor for inflating its tires. We soon discovered that this truck could haul 90 bushels of wheat at 40 miles per hour.

My dad was so proud of his prize that he had his name painted on the doors in gold leaf, a sign of the good times.

Most drivers drove the Red Baby with their head leaning out of the window enjoying the slip stream of air as it rushed by the face, giving one the sense of a new found freedom. The reality of speed and power was often cut short by the sudden sting of the grasshoppers as they ricocheted off the forehead and cheeks. It was evident that the sign of a happy farmer was one who had bug stains on his teeth.

At harvest time the International could now haul the grain from the combine, directly into the town elevator and return to the field before the hopper was once again full of grain. As there was no shovelling of grain involved, the job of wheat hauling during this busy season was often left to my mother who was one of those early liberated women who preferred driving truck rather than spending time in a hot kitchen. She drove with a great amount of determination and heavy foot as each trip required a limited amount of time. The neighbours who met her on the road gave a wide berth as the truck made rooster tails of dust as she sped by.