The morning air was rather crisp but the scent of spring was in
the air and it had promise of being a pleasant day. The trees were
budded and the grass was beginning to turn green. But Johnny AR
paid little attention to this. It had been a long, cold winter,
freezing Johnny to his very marrow. The snow, there in the shade of
the delapidated old shed where Johnny stood, was still several
inches deep. Johnny’s vision was partially obscured by last
summer’s burdocks and brambles, now all brown and ugly. Johnny
was so glum and cold that he didn’t hear the little green car
pull into the driveway. But even if he had it would have meant
nothing to him. He had been alone in that clump of burdocks for so
long. He knew he had been forgotten years ago.
Johnny AR was tired of being cold and he was tired of being
surrounded by burdocks but most of all he was tired of being alone
Johnny heaved a forlorn sigh and closed his eyes to reminisce of
happier days. He had been so happy when he was working on the farm.
And he had worked hard plowing and planting and mowing hay and
doing numerous other chores for his master. The times Johnny liked
to remember best were the times he had pulled wagon loads of sweet
smelling hay filled with laughing children.
He had served his master well but the day had come when his
master had parked him out by the old shed and told him that he had
earned a peaceful retirement.
Johnny AR had felt saddened, but at least the children had still
come to visit him. He loved the way they climbed on him and laughed
as they pretended to drive him. Johnny AR had watched
affectionately as the children had romped in the grass beside him.
But now the children were all grown up and had gone away.
‘If only the sun would warm me up a bit, I might feel
better,’ sighed Johnny.
Just then Johnny AR heard voices. He looked up and saw old Joe,
his master, approaching. He was stomping down the burdocks. Behind
him were a young man with a beard and a young lady with long blonde
hair. Johnny couldn’t explain it, but there was something about
this young couple that made him take an instant liking for them.
They seemed warm and cheerful. They were looking intently at Johnny
AR and the young man was asking old Joe all sorts of questions as
he prodded Johnny here and there. He looked into Johnny’s gas
tank and into his radiator and then he climbed onto Johnny’s
seat. When he pushed in the clutch and started playing with the
rather stiff shifting lever Johnny was so excited that he could
hardly contain himself. The young man was saying nice things about
Johnny. Then he went over and talked with Joe. Johnny couldn’t
hear what they were saying about him, but the young lady was
sitting on Johnny’s seat so he didn’t really mind. Johnny
could sense that she liked him. Johnny felt a glimmer of hope deep
down inside him. But then she climbed down and the young man led
Johnny AR wanted to shout to them to come back as he watched
them leaving. But he could only close his eyes as the tears fell
silently into the snow.
Summer came and the burdocks grew tall and green and the sun
warmed Johnny AR’s steel, but his heart was cold and empty.
Loneliness is a terrible disease.
Autumn came on in all its brilliance. The leaves flashed red and
gold and fell to the ground. The nights were cold and Johnny could
smell winter in the air. But he cared not. His heart was broken.
Nobody loved him. Nobody cared. He would rot there forever.
Johnny had been dreaming about the first day he had come to live
and work on the farm, many, many years ago, when he was awakened by
a noise. He peered through the burdocks and saw a white pick-up
truck pulling a flat bed trailer. Johnny’s heart gave a sudden
leap when he recognized the young man who got out of the truck. But
instead of the young lady with the blonde hair there was another
young man with him. They were soon poking and prodding around
Johnny AR. He felt himself being slowly jacked into the air. After
much work he was loaded onto the flat bed trailer. At last he was
free from those burdocks. What a wonderful feeling it was to be
riding down the road.
Johnny AR learned that the young man had admired Johnny AR so
much that he had persuaded old Joe to sell him the little tractor.
Johnny quivered with excitement.
Soon they arrived at another farm and Johnny was unloaded.
Johnny and the young man looked at each other with admiration.
Soon the blonde girl joined the young man and slipped her arm
around his waist as she stood there looking fondly at Johnny. More
people gathered around Johnny AR. They sat in his seat, looked at
his engine and in his tank and turned his flywheel. They tinkered
here and there on Johnny.
‘Isn’t it a beautiful old tractor,’ said the young
Everyone seemed excited about Johnny. They all talked and made
plans. Johnny soon realized that he would have other old tractors
like himself for friends.
‘Why, I’m going to get this tractor all shined up and
get it running and take to the tractor pull at the fair just to
show it off,’ boasted the young man.
‘I’ll even be able to drive this tractor,’ said the
blonde girl. ‘We’ll be able to use it on the garden and all
kinds of things.’
‘It’ll take a little work and some time but this will be
one fantastic little tractor when it’s restored,’ said the
The young man and the blonde girl put their arms around each
other and looked affectionately at the little tractor.
Johnny AR felt warm all over from his radiator cap right down to
his draw bar. Johnny knew he was home and Johnny knew that he was
BACKGROUND OF THIS STORY
The story, ‘The Sad Little Tractor’ is based on fact in
the family life of the author, Nancy Wilcox, who lives near
Bainbridge, New York.
Johnny A. R. is really the tractor purchased by her husband,
Dan. Nancy told us the whole family history-about being ‘bit by
the antique tractor bug,’ starting with her brother-in-law, Lon
Wilcox. He stumbled across a McCormick-Deering hidden in back of a
friend’s barn and is restoring it.
‘The bug was contagious and the rest of us got bit,
‘Nancy said in a letter to GEM. Her father-in-law’s farm is
near an intersection everyone there calls ‘Puckerville
Corners,’ and when a group started an organization, they called
it the Puckerville Antique Tractor Association.
Other members are Dan’s younger brother, Darrell, who is
waiting for the right engine to come along, and friends Larry and
Sue Yaddow, who own McCormicks, Fordsons and a Farmall F-12. Nancy
owns ‘a cute little Farmall F-12.’
Lon sent everyone GEM subscriptions for Christmas. ‘We look
forward to each issue,’ Nancy says, ‘and whoever receives
their issue usually hasn’t read far before they are on the
phone calling one of the other members of our group.’
Nancy’s story appears just as she wrote it.