tractor

My grand-nephew, Bowen Parmely loves tractors. That isn’t an unusual thing. Many little boys love toy farm equipment, cars, trains, and other forms of toy transportation items, but Bowen is different, because he loves real tractors. Bowen has lived on a farm all his life, and he loves every aspect of farm life, especially Gloria…his parents’ tractor. Bowen likes to ride in the tractor and help work on the tractor. As far as he is concerned, Gloria is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course, I’m sure that pat of the draw is doing mechanic work with his dad and grandpa, but also, tractors are cool in just what they can do. I’ve driven a tractor, so I can relate to it.

Bowen is such a sweet boy. I’m told that he is also very kind…and helpful. He likes to help cook, which isn’t always something little boys want to do. They are usually too busy playing to want to cook, but there are some that do and some that grow up to be amazing cooks. I guess for Bowen, time will tell. Whether he grows up to be a chef or not really makes no difference, everyone needs to know how to cook, because you just never know if you will someday live alone.

Bowen loves farm life. Riding horses, and playing with the farm animals, especially the babies is one of his greatest joys. These days, they have some goat kids, and some kittens, which are so cute. The kittens are just getting their eyes open, and they are so tine and cuddly. Bowen and his sisters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve love to show the farm animals to everyone who comes to their house. Bowen’s parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely, have grown their farm from just a few animals when they started, to the need to find a bigger place, which is the reason they moved to their current location. Having a bigger place give all the animals, their babies, and the Parmely children lots of room to roam around. That suits the children just fine, because they really don’t like to be fenced in. Bowen and his sisters love being farm kids, and his mommy wanted me to make sure I mentioned that “Bowen loves tractors!! So, did I mention he loves tractors? Today is Bowen’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Eric Parmely has changed so much over the years. I find myself amazed at the life he lives today. Eric is husband to Ashley, and daddy to Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. That’s his human family anyway. Eric and Ashley own a little ranch west of Casper, where they raise children, dogs, cats, goats, horses, turkeys, cows, ducks, pigs, and maybe others that I have not mentioned. There are always new babies on the ranch, and those animal babies are just as much a part of the family too. I can’t imagine all those babies in the family, but Eric and Ashley love each and every one of them. Of course, they and the children also understand that some animals are for food, and that is just how it has to be. The constants in the family of animal members, of course are the horses, cats, and dogs. They will never be food, as we all know. They are, and always will be pets.

Eric is a hard working man. He has a regular job, and then comes home and works hard on the ranch. He and Ashley bought a tractor that he is been fixing up. Once it is in good shape, it will be a big help to him on the ranch. There is much work to do on a ranch and a rancher needs the right tools. This tractor will put them closer to having all the tools they need. They live on a dirt road, so they need to be able to clear roads and so much more. Tractors and ranches just go together.

Eric has discovered audio books. To me that is vital. With our busy lives, finding time to read a book is almost impossible, but we can listen to our books while we work. Eric likes a variety of books, and just finished Harry Potter. I’m not into the Harry Potter stuff, but I love to listen to World War II books. To each his own, I guess. I find that audiobooks have broadened my horizons, and I have other types of books I have listened to since I started with Audible. Eric will most likely be the same.

Eric, being the dad of young kids, has had to keep up with all their activities. I saw a video recently of Eric trying to skateboard. He did pretty good, but I’m sure that the kids, especially Reagan can out-do him. It’s simply an age thing, so it would make sense for her to be better at it than her dad, but I could be wrong. I have been known to be wrong about such things, after all. Eric has recently discovered iced vanilla lattes and has switched to decaf coffee. Now, that part is odd to me, because he probably need more caffeine kick, not less to keep up with his busy lifestyle. More power to him if he can do it caffeine-free. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

What would the modern farm be without the tractor? People in the 19th century knew exactly what it would be, even if they had no idea what a tractor was. John Froelich was born on November 24, 1849, in Iowa. His life would end up changing much in the agricultural industry. As an adult, Froelich operated a grain elevator and mobile threshing service. His job was to bring a crew to local farms every year at harvest time. He hired a crew and dragged a heavy steam-powered thresher through Iowa and the Dakotas, threshing farmers’ crops for a fee. I suppose it was a good way to make a living, but his machine was bulky, hard to transport, and expensive to use. To top it off, it was also dangerous…one spark from the boiler on a windy day, and he could find the whole prairie ablaze.

Froelich knew that this was no way to do business. He decided that he had to try something new. In 1890, instead of that cumbersome, hazardous steam engine, Froelich came up with the idea of a gas powered engine. The size comparison alone made it a far superior choice. So, he and his blacksmith mounted a one-cylinder gasoline engine on his steam engine’s running gear and set off for a nearby field to see if it worked. To their excitement, it did. The tractor Traveled at a speed of three miles per hour. Of course, that was going to take them a long time to go from one location to another. The real test came when they took their new machine on the road for the annual threshing season. The good news is that the machine was a success there too. The crew threshed more than a thousand bushes of grain every day, 72,000 bushels in all, and they used only 26 gallons of gasoline. Of even greater importance, was that they did the whole thing without one fire.

It was time to take the project to the next level. Froelich found eight investors, and they formed the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company. They built four prototype tractors and sold two. Unfortunately, both were soon returned. Rather than lose the company, and to make money, the company branched out into stationary engines. That was somewhat more successful and its first engine powered a printing press at the Waterloo Courier newspaper. Froelich was happy with the success, but that was really not where his interests were. He was into farming equipment and wanted to make an engine that worked for that. So he left the company in 1895. Froelich might have jumped the gun a little bit, because Waterloo kept working on its tractor designs. The designs still weren’t wildly successful, and between 1896 and 1914, Waterloo sold just 20 tractors in all. Success finally came when in 1914, the company introduced its first Waterloo Boy Model “R” single-speed tractor, which sold very well…118 in 1914 alone. The next year, its two-speed Model “N” was even more successful. In 1918, the John Deere plow-manufacturing company bought Waterloo for $2,350,000.

Sometimes we see a picture that looks so far-fetched that we assume that we are looking at a picture that has been photoshopped, and sometimes we are. Nevertheless, some pictures, unbelievable as they may seem, are the real deal. A while back, I stumbled upon an unbelievable photo of a plane crash, or rather the moment before the plane crashed. I was instantly intrigued. Could this be real? Or was it just a big ruse?

At the end of World War II, the English Electric Aviation Company received a contract to develop a jet bomber. The resulting bomber was the English Electric Lightning F1. The ER103 design study was sufficiently impressive for English Electric to be awarded the contract for two prototypes and a structural-test airframe. The early prototypes evolved into the Lightning, an airplane which was to span the time from when the Spitfire was our primary front-line fighter to the end of the Cold War. The Lightning was the only British designed and built fighter capable of speeds in excess of Mach 2 to serve with the Royal Air Force. The aircraft in the photograph was XG332. It was built in 1959, one of 20 pre-production Lightnings. Alan Sinfield took a photograph of XG332 in 1960 at Farnborough. However, it was the very last photograph taken of XG332, in 1962, that became the famous one, and deservedly so. How does someone manage to take a photograph like this? Jim Meads is the man who took the picture, but this was not the picture he expected to take that day. He was a professional photographer who lived near the airfield. In fact, he lived next door to de Havilland test pilot Bob Sowray.

Meads says that Bob Sowray mentioned that he was going to fly the Lightning that day. An excited Meads took his kids for a walk, taking his camera along, hoping to get a shot of the plane, and give his kids something amazing to remember. Well, that part of the walk went according to plan. It was a walk his kids would not soon forget. He had planned to take a photograph of the children with the airfield in the background, just as the Lightning came in to land. They found a good view of the final approach path and waited for the Lightning to return. As it turned out, Bob Sowray didn’t fly the Lightning that day. The pilot was George Aird, another test pilot working for De Havilland. George Aird was involved in the Red Top Air-to-Air Missile program. He was a well-respected test pilot.

The flight was to take place on September 19, 1962. The day did not go as planned in any way. George Aird was in the Lightning doing a demonstration flight off of the south coast. As he approached Hatfield from the north east, he realized that he had trouble. During the flight there was a fire in the aircraft’s reheat zone. “Un-burnt fuel in the rear fuselage had been ignited by a small crack in the jet pipe and had weakened the tailplane actuator anchorage. This weakened the tailplane control system which failed with the aircraft at 100 feet on final approach.” The plane suddenly pitched up, quite violently…just as Aird was coming in to land. Aird lost control of the aircraft and ejected. Had the nose of the plane not pitched up suddenly, Aird would not have had enough time to eject.

The tractor in the photograph was a Fordson Super Major. Upon close inspection of the grill, one can see that it reads D H Goblin, which is the name of another de Havilland jet engine…the Goblin. The tractor driver was 15-year-old Mick Sutterby, who spent that summer working on the airfield. He would play an amazing, but unexpected part in the amazing picture. He wasn’t posing for the camera, but rather, was telling the photographer, Jim Mead, to move on, because he shouldn’t be there. Mead saw the plane coming in and the nose pitch up. Then Aird ejected and Mead says he had just enough time to line up the shot as the Lightning came down nose first.

Sutterby recalls, “I followed my father into work at de Havilland, Hatfield in 1954 when I was 15. My father was the foreman in charge of the aerodrome and gardens. My job in the summer was gang-mowing the airfield and at the time of the crash in 1962 the grass had stopped growing and we were trimming round the ‘overshoot’ of the runway with a ‘side-mower’. I stopped to talk to a chap with a camera who was walking up a ditch to the overshoot. I stopped to tell him that he shouldn’t be here, I heard a roar and turned round and he took the picture! He turned out to be a friend of the pilot and had walked up the ditch to photograph his friend in the Lightning. I saw some bits fly off the plane before it crashed, but it was the photographer who told me he had ejected. There was not a big explosion when it crashed, just a loud ‘whhooooof’.”

“I was about 200 yards from the crash scene. I saw men running out of the greenhouses and checking the scene of the crash. The works fire brigade were on the scene within a minute. Somewhere at home I have a picture of it burning. Although the picture shows it nose diving to the ground, in fact it was slowly turning over and it hit the ground upside down nose first. I was later told that if the pilot had ejected a split second later he would have ejected himself into the ground. I was very lucky. If I had known he was coming into land, I would have been positioned near the ILS (Instrument Landing System) aerial which was only 20 yards or so from the crash site! I believe the photographer had his photo restricted by the Air Ministry for – I think – about 3 months because the plane was secret,” Sutterby said, almost as if in thought.

“He then took it to the Daily Mail who said it was a fake. The photo was eventually published by the Daily Mirror. From there it went round the world, and I remember seeing a copy in the RAF museum at Hendon. I recollect the photographer usually photographed hunting scenes for magazines like The Field. I recollect that the pilot broke his legs but really was very lucky. I hope this is interesting. All from memory,” finished Sutterby.

George Aird didn’t have an easy landing, and in fact, landed on a greenhouse and fell through the roof. The fall broke both of his legs, and he landed on the ground, unconscious. The water from the sprinkler system for the tomatoes woke him up and he reportedly said that his first thought was that he must be in heaven. In the end no one was killed, but the resulting picture by Jim Meads is nothing short of spectacular!!

My little grand-nephew, Bowen Parmely is a happy little boy who is turning 2 years old today. Bowen’s first two years have been quite eventful. He is the younger brother to two sisters, Reagan and Hattie, and so there was always someone to play with. Being the only boy in the family, might have affected the kinds of games he played, but not in any big way, because Bowen is all boy. I have no doubt that in the future, he will tease his sisters quite a bit. A guy’s gotta make up for lost time, because while he is the littlest, the girls are well able to “boss” him around. Unfortunately for Bowen, I don’t know if he will ever find himself the boss when it comes to his sisters. Nevertheless, Reagan and Hattie love their little brother very much, and they have taught him lots of things in these first two years…and I’m sure he has taught them a few things too.

Bowen and his sisters love to ride their bicycles, and Bowen is quickly learning the ropes of a strider. When I was a kid, nobody ever thought of taking the peddles off of the bicycle or tricycle, and just letting the kid sit on the seat and walk it out, but it is really a great way to put the little ones on a bicycle early on, and Bowen doesn’t like to be left out of the fun, so it’s a vital tool toward getting him into the action. Of course, there isn’t much that his sisters are doing that Bowen doesn’t do too, with the exception of school. Bowen and his sisters help out on the farm, and they get to play with the babies, as well as watching their birth. That is all part of a good farm education, and a part that city dwellers don’t get.

While Bowen’s sisters love all the little farm babies, and Bowen does too, but for him, they come second, because he has something he is far more interested in…tractors. Typical boy thing, and something that he gets from his dad, and probably a grandpa or two. Bowen comes from a long line of farm and ranch people, and from what I have seen, he is totally ok with that. Today is Bowen’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Jim and Aunt RuthOur family always loved having our Aunt Ruth Spencer Wolfe, her husband, Uncle Jim Wolfe and their kids, Shirley, Larry, and Terry come to visit. We always had so much fun when they came. It didn’t matter if we were playing with the kids or sitting around listening to the many stories Uncle Jim or Aunt Ruth told. There was always so many fun things going on when they were there. My dad, Allen Spencer and Uncle Jim kept us all laughing with their antics. Dad and Uncle Jim were always coming up with some new thing…from wild recipes to crazy challenges. There was never a dull moment when our two families were together.

When we were kids, the two families took trips together. A favorite was the South Dakota trip. Our parents were great campers, and they always made it a lot of fun. I also remember several trips to Casper mountain. The mountain was a long standing favorite, because it was close and yet we got to Uncle Jimget out and camp, or at the very least, go for picnics. For a number of years, however, their family lived here in Casper, and that made it much easier to get together.

I gave us kids lots of time to play together. They had chickens, ducks, and geese, and for my sisters and me, all city girls, that in itself was a novelty. Of course, we didn’t have to clean up after them either. I think we were pretty prissy, and we would have probably freaked out at the site of the coop. They also had a garden, and in it was just about everything you could imagine, so I’m sure Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim found a few things missing from the garden after we all spent time outside at their house. They also had a tractor that Shirley would hook the wagons up to and take us all for rides. It was a great time. Of course all too often, it was more fun to be inside with them. Our dad’s kept things lively, whether they were together or all by themselves.

For Uncle Jim’s kids, he was a role model. He taught them how to shoot a gun, and go hunting, so they could provide meat for their families. Their training started as young as two years old, and that is something I agree with. If children know what a gun can do, and they are taught the value of life, they will gain a healthy respect for both life and gun. Shirley recalls fishing, hunting and camping with her dad, and with that came a great scan0017sense of camaraderie between the two of them. He was her hero, and she knew that he could do anything. I suppose that is part of what made it hard for her when his mind started to go. Suddenly the dad, who had always taken such good care of her and the family, needed her to take care of him. I know how she feels about that. It is a hard thing to know that your parents are aging, and all you can think is, “How can I stop this? I want to go back in time!!” Unfortunately, that can never be. We live the life we have been given, in the time we were meant to live in, and when it is time to go home to heaven, we must go, whether our family is ready or not. Today would have been Uncle Jim Wolfe’s 94th birthday. He left us almost 3 years ago, and we’ll always miss him. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Jim. We love you.

Larry, Terry, and ShirleyThe other day, I was talking with my cousin, Shirley Cameron on instant message through Facebook, when she brought up an old memory…a blast from our past. Shirley’s mom, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister, and our families were very close…especially when the Wolfe family still lived in Casper, and we were all little kids. Shirley was the oldest of the three Wolfe siblings, with two younger brothers, Larry and Terry. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson fell in between Larry and Terry, and I was four months younger than Terry. Our three younger sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock were the youngest ones. Back in those days, the fun you had depended on your imagination. I guess we all had imagination, but Shirley really seemed to be able to come up with great ideas. And she was able to carry them out too.

We started talking about the games we played when we were out at their place, like wagon train. Of course, we didn’t have a real covered wagon or a team of horses, but that didn’t mean that we would have to be the Caryn, Caryl, and Cherylhorses for our pull type wagons, because My aunt and uncle had a tractor, and Shirley knew how to drive it. So we hooked the wagons to the tractor, and headed down the road near their place. Oh sure, sometimes the whole thing would break down, but then what would a wagon train be without a breakdown. Even in the pioneer days, the wagons broke down…right?

Shirley had a set of dishes, and like the wagon trains of the wild west, we brought our own food the long trip…usually. Of course, sometimes we had to improvise. Since we didn’t really have a way to go hunting, we had to make due with what was available to us, and the best cooking we did was when we made mud pies. They probably didn’t taste good, and I’ll never know, because I never tasted them, but we could make them look pretty good…in a hamburger sort of way. I’m sure there were other things like vegetables picked out of Aunt Ruth’s garden, and maybe apples or berries that we came across, whether they were edible or not. No matter what we came up with, real or imagined, we always had a lot of fun playing wagon train or any other game we came up with to play. It was always interesting, but I think in reality it was Shirley who had all the great Alena and Allynideas…maybe with a little help from Cheryl.

We were all as close as sisters or best friends, but we were more than that…we were cousins, and that is a forever friend…kind of like a sister is a forever friend. For Shirley, we were like the sisters she never had. Of course, we didn’t really understand what a big deal that was, because we were five sisters. We had never really known a time without our sisters, but Shirley had two brothers, and even though they were close, they weren’t like sisters. Boys think differently than girls. They like to do different things than girls. It just wasn’t the same. Yes, we played the games the boys wanted to play too sometimes, but we sure had a good time playing wagon train with Shirley.

Bertha Matilda SpencerNot everyone who belongs in a family history is a family member. It seems fitting to me to talk about the Hoover family, because they played a rather large part in our family’s history, and therefore were as close as family. In her young years, my great aunt, Bertha Matilda Spencer and her mother did not get along. The situation continued to be a problem for some time, and at some point it became intolerable.

I don’t know how old Bertha was when she went to live with the Hoover family, or if it was her decision or her mother’s, but she never lived at home again. Many people might think that hers was a horribly sad and lonely life after that, but to me she looked genuinely happy. That makes me think that possibly her move to the Hoover home was something that was by mutual agreement, between her and her mom, but I still have to wonder if the whole situation made my great great grandfather rather sad. I don’t know about Great Great France Hoover - The Shoe MakerGrandma, but the rest of the family, it seems, was very close to the Hoovers…leading me to think that they missed their sister very much. Because the Hoover family was so close to his, my grandfather remained friends with them for the rest of his life, even having his picture taken with two of the Hoover boys, Ed and Joe, two years before his death.

Mr Hoover’s name was France, and while he was a farmer by trade, he also had the ability to repair and maybe even make shoes for his family. I suppose a lot of families learned trades to help save their families money, but shoemaking is something that seems such a strange hobby these days. Of course, for France Hoover, it was not a hobby, it was a necessity. His family needed shoes, and to purchase them was expensive. I found these pictures to be very interesting, as I thought about how the shoes were made or repaired in those days. They were all hand crafted, unlike the shoes of today that are mass produced by machines. The shoes were made out of leather, while most shoes today are made out of synthetic materials. I have a feeling those shoes lasted much longer than our shoes today do too.

Shoes then were not designed for looks so much, but rather they were made in a The Shoe Makerpractical fashion, which would have saddened me, because I love my high heels, and I love different designs and colors. Shoes of yesteryear were quite different, and I’m sure the shoemakers would have thought of me as being half crazy. Maybe I am, but I would be in good company, I think, because there are a whole bunch of us high heel fanatics in this world. These are just different times than those were, and since they most likely had just one pair of shoes, compared to my 50 or more, theirs had to be built to last. While France Hoover was not related to me, I still find him to be an interesting character from the past. Some things he did the old fashioned way, like making and repairing shoes, and some things like cars and tractors, he had to have the latest innovations available. I suppose it just depends on where your priorities are, really, and I’m quite certain that mine are vastly different than France Hoover’s were.

The watchersSo many times, we are so busy taking a picture of someone or something, that we fail to notice the little things happening just beyond the center of our attention. Most often, they are not really important things, and they will continue to be fairly unnoticed later on too. Things like a bird or dog or even a car on a nearby road, are just coincidences that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. We just overlook them as we look at the main subjects of the picture.

Nevertheless, there are things, that when they are placed in a picture, can change the picture in a bigger way, and in reality, add to its depth….give it character and add a touch of humor to it for all to see. It’s not something that usually invades the picture, but rather someone who invades it, and often that someone is a child. Yes, you get the occasional inattentive person who is off in their own little world, and so they walk right into your shot, but that is not what I’m talking about here. Those shots are simply annoying, because they ruined the shot by their careless act of indifference.

No, I’m talking about the watchers. Usually little kids who are so excited about the picture being taken or the people who are in the picture that they stand at the window or in the doorway to watch the proceedings, and since the photographer wasn’t looking at the window, even though it was right behind the subjects they are photographing, they get the little watcher in the picture too. I love those kinds of pictures, because it is just so typical of little Uncle Bill on old tractorkids to want to see what is going on, and they have no idea that they have inadvertently stepped into the shot. It’s just all about the fact that they are curious about what is going on.

I don’t think these watchers ever ruin the shot, like the inattentive passerby does. The watcher is more like the bird or the dog who gets into the shot when it was not in the plan for them to be there. They just like to see what is going on, and so, there they are at the moment you snap the picture. They don’t ruin the picture, but rather add that little bit of humor, character, and even depth to the shot, and speak to the very nature of kids. “If you aren’t a part of it, just be near enough to catch what is going on.” And, “Oops!! I didn’t mean to be in the picture!!”

Plowing up the farmerAfter looking at this picture of my Great Uncle Albert Schumacher, and learning of his love for machinery from my cousin Shawn Frederick, I have decided that while my Uncle Bill Spencer does not look like his Uncle Albert, he is indeed very much like him in many ways, as is my cousins Tim and Shawn Fredrick’s dad, Gene, and Tim’s son, Daniel. These are men who like the inner workings of machinery, as well as their design. “Great Uncle Albert’s claim to fame”, according to what Shawn told us, “was that he studied machinery constantly and could fix ANY kind of machinery. He was also the only one in the territory to own a Ford car and always dreamed of owning a Rolls Royce. He also taught all of his boys to repair cars.” I have to think that maybe he handed down his talents by way of the genes to a number of other men in the family too.

Uncle Bill, who is Albert’s sister, Anna’s oldest son, and the one Uncle Bill on old tractorwho got many of the Spencer side of my family interested in the family history, put together a tractor made from a pickup. According to Uncle Bill, “It had 1927 Dodge 4 cylinder engine with a 6 volt electrical system. The front axle was turned upside down for clearance. The rear axle was a worm gear drive gear system that was 18 inches top to bottom. It had 10 x 20 truck tires from a 1915 5 ton Wilcox Truck. In low gear the engine turned 18 times to turn the wheels once. It could do twice what a team of horses could do, and it didn’t have to stop to rest.” Uncle Bill was pretty proud of that tractor. He also bought an old school bus, back when his kids and my sisters and I were little kids. He spent quite a bit of time converting that old bus into a camper/motorhome for his family to travel in. I can vividly remember the fun times we spent in that old bus. We used to take trips in it with them, and we would hang out in it when they visited us or we visited them…especially us kids. It was almost like a club house.
Daniel's Building
Daniel, being a young man of just 12 years, does most of his design and building work at home, and much of it is done with Legos and such, but his dad tells me that Daniel is constantly building and inventing things…sounds a lot like his Great Grand Uncle Albert, doesn’t it? I think Daniel’s future possibilities are endless. He is a smart young man, and very motivated, so he will go far. It’s amazing to me that these men, while generations apart, are so much alike. I have often thought that when there are generations and generations of people in the same line of work, that it was just following in their parent’s footsteps, and maybe to a degree it was, but maybe it was just in the genes.

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