Letter from The Editor
Most men love machinery and for some of them, the best part of living in the country is that you get to own and use machinery, especially in the spring when things start growing again. If you live in a city apartment, your most powerful machine will likely be the food processor. Here, no man can think highly of himself unless he owns a chain saw, at least. And a string trimmer. And a leaf blower…
And the nes plus ultra of machines is, of course, the tractor.
Now, there are tractors and there are tractors.
The first category consists of those things that are basically lawnmowers that you use to cut the grass and haul clippings and other things that need hauling. Little tractors that allow you to believe that you are driving a real tractor and doing the kind of work that it takes a real tractor to do. It is sort of like the difference between making a sky dive tethered to an experienced instructor and going out solo at 12,500 feet.
Real tractors are big, muscular-looking things that do real work. Plow fields, pull stumps, drag logs … all those things that you never needed to do when you lived in Larchmont.
Many men of my acquaintance would love to own one of those tractors. And a few of them actually do. One of them is Malcolm Cooper who has written for this magazine. Malcolm is one of those people who seem always to be busy. He finds projects and they inevitably require the use of his tractor. He is currently clearing the hillsides on the Dorset parcel known as “the Pinnacle.” It may or may not look better when he is finished but it is certain that Malc will have had himself a fine time with his tractor.
I found myself talking, recently, with a friend whose husband is enamored with tractors. His name, interestingly is “King.” I can’t imagine saying to my husband, “King, would you like more coffee?” But nevermind.
King made his living in New York in the world of investments and then retired here to ski. He is the furthest thing from a farmer. But he picked up a bad case of the tractor virus and there is this large meadow on his property that needs mowing once a year … and, well, you know.
So my friend decided to give her husband a tractor as a gift. (Much safer than a Corvette, I thought but did not say.)
She knew he did not want a new tractor. If there was to be a tractor in his life (and, picturesquely, in his field), it had to be a classic (this is a theme for another time.) So she went around to the auctions of which there are many, all well attended by tractor enthusiasts.
She learned a lot about tractors. (“You wouldn’t believe …” is how she began a lot of our tractor conversations.) And she finally found the perfect tractor (there is such a thing) and its perfection was not just in its vintage or its undeniable muscle. It was the tractor’s name. It was not a John Deere or an Allis Chalmers or any of the other recognizable brands. This tractor was made in Plymouth, by the Fate-Root-Heath Company and it was the finest tractor you could buy in the 1930s. Even Henry Ford thought so. He bought two.
At first, the company called its tractor the “Plymouth,” But it dropped the name when Chrysler, which built cars of that name, threatened to sue over copyright infringement. The company came up with a new name and before it stopped manufacturing them in 1954, it made around 9,000 of its excellent and now-classic tractors. They are much prized by collectors and aficionados.
My friend could not, of course, resist. There are now two “Silver Kings” in her life.
Meanwhile, here at Stratton Magazine, we celebrate the arrival of spring with an eclectic array of commentaries on such diverse subjects as a professional trombonist, spring skiing, the return of the neighborhood butcher shop and a birthday tribute to our own Hubert Schriebl.