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An Old-Time Tractor Demonstration
Sam was born in rural Kansas in 1926. His dad was a hard-working farmer and the children worked hard everyday to help ends meet. In the rural area he grew up in, the highlight of the week was Saturday when many people took a break from their work to go to town. It was on one such Saturday in the early 1940's when Sam was 16 years old that he ended up in Dennison, Kansas to watch a demonstration of a new tractor being put on by a local dealer.
It was an Allis-Chalmers tractor dealership, and to the best of Sam's recollection the tractor being demonstrated that day was a WC model. Specifically being shown off that day were the new skeleton-style steel wheels. At the time, most farmers in the area were using the older style wide steel wheels. With their relatively flat surface and heavy weight they severely packed the soil and the farmers weren't too happy with them. Remember that this was during the Second World War so although rubber tires had been in use for some time - due to war restrictions there were very few rubber-wheeled tractors available.
As everyone gathered around the tractor, the dealer spoke to the crowd about the advantages of the new skeleton-style steel wheels. The wheels were narrow which resulted in much less weight, and had tall lugs on them about 4 or 5 inches in length. This gave the tractor not only great traction, but also did not compact the soil like the older wide and heavy steel wheels did.
To further drive his sales pitch home, the dealer did an unusual thing - he placed his foot on the brick floor of his sales area and had a helper drive the tractor right over his foot. Of course with his foot placed strategically between the tall lugs of the wheels his foot was uninjured and the point was well taken by the on-lookers.
One particular farmer was very impressed and purchased this fine tractor for his farm. Upon bringing it home he promptly took it out to the field and was anxious to show his wife what the dealer had shown him about the non-compacting nature of these new steel wheels. So he had her get up on the tractor, start it up, and while he held his foot there bravely on top of the dirt - had her drive right over it. Seems in the excitement of the dealer's demonstration, this farmer had failed to notice one important point - the dealer's sales floor was made of brick! Out there in the farmer's field the wheels sank right down into that soft dirt and although they did not compact the soil (as advertised) they crushed that poor farmer's foot so bad that it was broken in several places.
Being a small town, word travelled quickly when that red-faced farmer came limping into Dennison the next Saturday. And to this day - some 50 years later - when you start talking to Sam about tractors this is his most vivid memory!
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