Thursday, August 04, 2005

Farm equipment, nostalgia on the block at auction

To see full details on this article goto North County Times in San Diego CA.

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

VISTA ---- Stephen Cook spent $950 on Sunday to purchase a piece of history. The contractor from Escondido was one of hundreds of bidders snatching up tractors, farm equipment and all kinds of other antiques at the Antique Gas & Steam Museum's yearly auction.

Cook's prize, a 1946 John Deere "D" tractor, is heading right to his workshop to receive a deep-cleaning and complete restoration.

The fenders and hood are rusted but free of dents. The rear tires are cracked and torn and tall as a bean-pole, but they can be replaced. The workhorse of a tractor, with two cylinders the size of coffee cans, should clean up very nicely, he said.

"I grew up on these things," Cook said. "This is something I'll hand down."

Rusted tractors ---- and the discs, plows and mowers they pull ---- filled a dusty lot at the 55-acre museum grounds.

A Cletrac dozer that rides on steel tracks sold for $1,600.

Alongside the dozer sat an International cub tractor for cultivating, discing and mowing.

A Massey-Ferguson tractor changed hands on Sunday. So did a Ford Jubilee tractor from the late 1940s.

Kicking tires and looking under hoods were farmers and collectors from across southern California and beyond.

Some of the pieces will become "yard art" in gardens; other machines will receive love and paint in workshops, like Cook's, and still others might return to service on a farm.

Nostalgia drives many of the purchases, museum president Tom Garrison said.

That's because the tractor, and the hard work it symbolizes, draws a direct connection to farm life, to waking up early to finish chores before school, to family members working together, to families helping one another, to community.

Jerry Kozitka, of Indio, began driving a John Deere "D" when he was eight and lived on his family's dairy farm in Minnesota. Many farmers favored the Deere tractor; a hand-operated clutch meant that a child could operate the machine, he said.

Every year Kozitka returns to the auction.

"It just brings old stories together," he said.

Innumerable stories are contained in the Civil War papers, historical memorabilia and household items that were also auctioned off.

Maytag "ringer" washers from the 1950s were on the block. So were sheriff's badges, rifles, wagon wheels with wooden spokes and a dentist's chair upholstered in red velvet.

In past years, auctioneers have worked as late as midnight to auction off the lots, which numbered nearly 1,000 on Sunday, Garrison said.

Another visitor to the auction was Jake Krotje, 21, of San Marcos. Krotje displayed a dashboard to a Model A he had fabricated in the foundry class at Palomar College.

Krotje said he has come to the auctions since he was a boy, but Sunday's visit did not include any purchases.

"My back yard's full," Krotje said.