I’ll Always be Thankful for knowing Keith Brown

Antique Iron enthusiasts always have the fond memories of riding on a tractor with a parent. I was fortunate to have more people when I was younger. The farm ground in my neighborhood was tended by a father son dual operation. As a kid, I spent many hours riding along with the son as he preformed tillage.

Keith Brown was only ten years my senior. We had many conversations and developed a bond that lasted many years as I grew into adulthood. I’m not ashamed to admit I learned much, not only about farming, but life in general. Keith took on a role of my big brother.

Keith and family were instrumental in helping me reach my Christian faith. I have always tried to follow the example of ethics the Browns displayed. Our Lord uses any available vessel to do his work. No matter being broken. None of us our perfect.

I realize now the time spent in the tractor cab was my job interview and training. Keith also became my first employer. I started working for the farm as a young teen. My responsibility grew from walking beans, bucking bales and mowing yards to operating the farm tractors. It didn’t take long to understand I wanted to be in front of the baler on the tractor. The tractor seat was where all the action was.

Keith must have seen potential in me. I was expected to work independently and later supervised work in his absence. Keith had his head in the clouds and was also a commercial pilot. Our working relationship was a success. Keith had cultivated a work ethic and skill set in me so that I could be trusted to carry on, in his absence, as if he was there supervising. I look back and like to think we made up a good team back then.

Keith created more opportunities and skill sets during our years working together. He held the office of township road commissioner. I was employed by the township as well. I received experience operating a road grader. My professional driving kicked off at this point. This would be my first opportunity to drive tandem axle dump trucks.

My first taste of driving the big trucks was a C-60 Chevy with a “two stick” transmission. Most people don’t even understand that terminology let alone how to shift through the gears. My dad helped truck one day while I was away. Keith had assigned that old Chevy to him. Dad asked Keith perplexed “How do you shift that thing?” Keith shrugged with a sheepish look. “Honestly I have no clue! You’d have to ask your kid, he’s got it figured out” I can thank Keith for my love of the road.

There are other ways Keith lent a helping hand in seeing me along the road of life. Some were so suttle I little realized he did. When I moved down state, we drifted apart. It’s sad how time has a way of stealing important moments like that. We rush, in a hurry, never stopping to remember. Our paths don’t always merge back and we lose touch

I was sadly informed my mentor and friend passed on. I have deep regret for the lost time we could have shared in this life. His time here was short, but I take comfort Keith has moved on to a better place. It makes me smile to think he is still flying. He just has new wings!

My deepest condolences reach out to family and friends that Keith Brown touched. Our hearts may feel pain, but let’s hold fondly to the good memories.

A Totem pole in Abingdon?

I grew up in Knox county Illinois and I’m naturally familiar with the little towns there. Sadly the things I find familiar and don’t give much attention have a fascinating history. It took my friend Scott Rakes question to hammer that aspect in my mindset.

Scott asked me about the totem pole in Abingdon. I had to embarrass myself with the simple answer “I don’t know” I had always taken it being there for granted. I’m a history buff and enjoy discovering other notable events and prominent people, but the totem pole slipped through my research…..until now.

Photography by Scott Rakes

The totem pole is 83 feet tall and actually has a name, Big Daddy. Steve Greenquist carved the pole in 1969. He was a art student at Illinois State University at the time. The project was sponsored by the Abingdon Development Council.

The pole is a tribute to our native Americans, Abraham Lincoln, and our Illinois heritage. Each part symbolizes these significance.

The totem pole held the record for being the world tallest for a short time. It still holds the honor of being the tallest east of the Mississippi.

Big Daddy recieved repair and repainting in 2018. The work began on July 25 and was standing again by August 30th. Dakota Ray worked diligently on repainting. The wings were remade by Bill Delancy and Roger Roberts, two city Aldermen. Mayor Myron Hovid, a member of our Antique Iron Mafia also had a hand in the work.

To think, the other choice for the funds could have been used for a public swimming pool. This is an example of historical remembrance over luxury.

Santa Secrets Revealed

As long as I can remember, I’ve actually known most of the truth about this dude Santa Claus. There are those that buy into his “magical” aspects, but his methods aren’t near as humanely impossible as anyone would think.

Mr Kringle is a pretty good guy, but I find his tactics questionable. This is probably the biggest reason my name has never been found on the other list. I don’t buy into the brainwashing. I don’t find it okay and look the other way regarding his breaking and entering tendency.

This unorthodox method of coming down a chimney is far fetched. Maybe he did it that way in the past, but some houses don’t even have a big enough chimney! Some houses don’t even have a fireplace. It must come down to being a mixed up burglar, since he doesn’t take anything. He leaves stuff. Maybe some people actually let him in. I have heard rumours of him being permiscuous. He has been seen kissing mommy.

Santa must be a horrible driver. He parks on the roof! Doesn’t he take into consideration the structural damage that heavy sleigh causes? What’s with the livestock? It’s 2020! Hes had to have seen the use of a motor by now. Park in the driveway or on the street like everyone else. Theres going to be less damage if he just parked in the yard. Watch out for little old ladies along the way too! Somebody lost their grandma to this maniac!

I had a break in back on Christmas eve in 2014. This guy even had the tenacity to wake me up and ask where my tree was. After my heart rate eased from the scare, I explained to him I wasn’t having a real great year and had very little Christmas spirit because of that. He didn’t help matters, he left coal. I had to have roof damage repaired and clean manure off my siding. The landlord wasn’t real happy!

There was good out of it all. I got a deer, which was easy shooting. I sure didn’t want the lead one though. There was something terribly wrong with it. The nose was red and it glowed.

The following year I had moved. I didn’t think I’d be dealing with this menace, but I was mistaken. I woke up and found him in my kitchen, rustling in my refrigerator! He realized real quick he had screwed up when I rested a pistol barrel against his cherry red cheek. He went down town and was booked but never went to trial. I didn’t press charges. I’m sure to be permanently on his “naughty” list though.

The was more venison in my freezer and I got a good scrap price on a sleigh. Sleigh? We don’t get enough snow anymore for that. Ever hear of a wheel? He must have seen them if he goes all over the world. The sick deer must have died. He wasn’t part of the team. I’m still looking to get rid of the harness gear. The deer’s name plates were in their positions. Dasher Dancer, etc. All except one place the tag read George. That must have been the replacement from the one I got the year before.

I may be one of the reasons he is changing his methods. I recently had a encounter with St Nick. He may think he was fooling me, but I knew EXACTLY who he was.

Don’t be fooled to think he makes his deliveries all in one night. I learned, at a young age, he has an advance delivery route. I found a few presents under the tree on December 19th from him. My mom explained the deal. He has WAY to many stops and has to do some of them before the big day. That’s logical. North Pole delivery is probably bigger than UPS and Fed Ex combined.

So that brings me back to the present. The other morning while I did my walk around on my work truck, a big red van truck pulled into the elevator. I recognized him, even though he was wearing a UPS type uniform and ball cap. He didn’t have on the felt suit with fur trim on. I guess he did away with the sleigh, it may have been my fault since I scraped it out. Maybe he didn’t have any more reign deer?

It was dark, and he didn’t recognize me, or didn’t act like it if he did. He asked if I’d be around later in the morning and if he could leave a package with me. I didn’t act all snarky like I could have and ask him why he didn’t just break in like he always did any other time. We have enough bad blood between us. I didn’t need to fuel that fire further. I’m willing to bet, he would have if I hadn’t been around.

I’m not sure who the package was for, there is maybe two people that make his special list I work with. The package wasn’t shaped right for coal. Oh well, not my cornfield… not my plow.

For those that read this, don’t act all aghast and think I’m evil. The story is fiction. Its humor people! Smile and most of all….

Merry Christmas!

Where are we going from here?

In the archive, of this blog, there is an article I wrote titled Ever Growing Circle. This article explains the beginnings of the Antique Iron Mafia

The article is one of my first written for this blog. There were 140 members when I penned the peice in 2017, an increase from 20 when the Facebook group was created in 2014. The membership count is now at 322. The following is bigger, but nothing else seems to have changed. We are gathered celebrating agricultural history.

There have been past attempts to structure the “Mafia”. Right now we are nothing more than “organized chaos”. There are so many good reasons for us to become a club, but there are hurdles and headaches in doing it as well. Maybe someday.

The Facebook group has an appointed administration. The four of us bring forth many fresh ideas and interesting topics. Mainly we monitor and see that our utopia runs smoothly and comfortably for our following.

From left to right Doug Edwards, Jessica Basford, me and Clinton Park

We recently had a live action media meeting on Facebook. On a side note, the past live action attempts have been poor in audio quality. This one unfortunately was no exception. It’s hard to hear the great ideas and information we discussed. I need to invest in some video/ audio equipment on behalf of Antique Iron Media, I haven’t done that yet.

There has been a brand created. I’m kind of proud of the design considering it was my attempt at it.  Merchandise can be created.

This is the brand concept created.
Concept for a hat

I haven’t really pushed this idea really hard for two reasons. We sadly live in a lawsuit society now. If someone were to attempt a lawsuit I probably would be held liable in the attempt. The Antique Iron Mafia doesn’t really exist. Alot of members already belong to organized clubs. The Mafia now supports & promotes other club events. I’ve always thought advertising  a nonexistent club might take away from the event hosts promotion.

My attitude has relaxed towards the creation of merchandise now. I, personally, tend to promote Doug’s business enterprise whenever I’m involved with a tractor related event. Doug’s logo brand is prominently displayed behind the staff in the picture above. If you would like a Tshirt or can cozy, please contact Doug .

The possibilities are endless! Hats Tshirts, can cozies, and even ID magnets can be ordered. I’m going to have  banners made, but one will be a variation That one will advertise my media business

This is the variation logo.

The merchandise will be created on “as interest” basis. If you would like something with the brand, please let me know.

Ideas of events for 2021. – revisiting hosting a tractor show – more tractor drives – involvement of community parades during holiday occasions – agricultural demonstrations such as plow days – group parties to travel for a museum visit.

Show and shine
Let’s parade!
Plow day

2020 was a horrible year for social events. Hopefully 2021 will be better

Another issue we are addressing is a calendar of events. This has been a long time in coming. Generally, I promote upcoming events at least 2 weeks before they happen. I understand that people may not keep a continuous monitor of the group and an event may get overlooked. A updated monthly calendar would be available in the file section on the group page.

I have to remind people that a successful calandar will only work if we are made aware of events. The Mafia staff and I generally see to promoting everything that we are aware of. With that being said, we don’t always know of everything going on. Everyone’s participation is greatly encouraged.

The public knowledge of the Mafia is now six years. We have grown slowly. I realize bigger isn’t always better and I’m thankful for each and every one that supports the group now. With that said, the Mafia staff wish to see our group grow more and flourish. We not only would like to see the membership tally increase, we encourage more participation. This isn’t MY group! The group doesn’t belong to the Mafia staff. This group belongs to EVERYONE! We are only as successful as WE all make it.

In parting, I ask, what can we do to make the Antique Iron Mafia better? Feel free to contact me on Facebook or email ideas and comments to


Harvest Candid

If you’re a regular follower to my blog you know I don’t get much time to create articles during harvest. This time of year is very fast paced and high energy, with extensive work hours. I focus more on being a professional driver than my writing talents.

The day begins

I do get opportunity to take pictures, so I’m going to do another photographic article with less writing. I hope you enjoy my views, during my duties, working for a grain operation.

Getting a load ready to ship
Cutting beans
Bin top view. Photo by Mark Enslow

I generally spend my harvest in a semi. This year I have been a grain cart operator.

I don’t get to run one of these to often
Down hood view

I’m not the only one in my region that likes red power. Brad and Greg King own red. Here’s a few pictures when I was hauling for them.

Catch Brad! Greg has got to keep moving
Brad hands off the hauling to me
Happy faces, Brad & Laurie King

I snapped a quick picture from my truck and ended up with a happy accident. The following picture isn’t a new state of the art model combine with two load out augers. There are actually two combines in the picture. The one coming toward the shot is hidden behind the away combine.

Optical illusion
Shade tree mechanics

So once the grain is ready for the truck to move where does it go? Well, for more depth read my previous three part Then and now Ag Hauling article in the archive. Here is a picture overview.

Holly Schinzler & Angie Philips. These two ladies are great at keeping everything straight
Dump pits are busy
Matt Dambacher is in high places at times

The following picture isn’t just a pit manager. The man on the broom actually owns and manages the elevator. He knows every job. The previous picture is second in command. He does everything and goes anywhere.

Greg Boesdorfer, The owner can do every job
Dump trailer on the pit ahead of me
Over the pit
Later in the day
The day is ending, but the work isn’t over

There you have it! A glimpse of candid moments throughout my usual day during the fall.

Edwards Open House 2020

The Edwards family open house has been an ongoing event in Franklin, IL for quite some time. Originally the event occurred on July 4th, in companion with the village’s festivities. Last year the family changed the date to Labor day weekend because of conflict with other “tractor” events happening during Independence Day.

Photo by Cindy Ladage
Jim Edwards, the patriarch of the family, and main host. photo by Cindy Ladage
From left to right Doug, Jim, Jason and Corey. Our hosts for the day. Photo credit ?

The event is held at Jim’s house, located west of Franklin on IL Route 104. The tractor collection is quite extensive, including John Deere, Oliver, International Harvester, and rare prewar Chrysler powered tractors. The exact number in the family collection is still not assured. Tractors seem to come and go continually.

all the Olivers
Oliver seemed to be the featured tractor this year photo by Jessica Basford

Fellow writer / blogger Cindy Ladage was in attendance this year. Jessica Basford, which is an amazing photographer in her own right, was also attending. The ladies have graciously agreed to help with this article by allowing me to feature their photographs. Thank you ladies for your talented skills in sharing the sights of the day

Photo by Cindy Ladage

This 1934 Hart Parr and Oliver Superior drill was a popular photograph opportunity. I like the different perspective each of the ladies discovered

Photo by Jessica Basford
Photo by Jessica Basford
Two of the Chrysler tractors. Photo by Jessica Basford
Another perspective of the prewar Chrysler tractors. Photo by Cindy Ladage
Jim recently became a member of the Graham Bradley owner club. Photo by Jessica Basford
Turbo M. photo by Jessica Basford
Photo by Cindy Ladage
Front line along the road. Photo by Jessica Basford
John Deere line. Photo by Cindy Ladage

Some of the tractors didn’t make it out into the sunshine this year. They were either being troublesome or intentionally left so people would discover them hidden away. Ive been to other open house displays set like that and it left a impression of mischief and discovery. It was a sense of going “behind the scenes” Personally, I’m more use to the museum building being full.


Sunday, September 6, was overall a relaxing day. It was a great time to visit with friends of common interests. There wasn’t much interest in using the braker fan this year. A guest brought a AC WD-45 that Doug tested on the Dyno though

Jessica, Chris, Enola, and Don discuss tractors
discussions Cindy and “Cletus” must be sharing journalist ideas
Clinton “Cletus” Park and I visit. Photo by Corey Edwards

Pictures say many words, I want to thank my fellow artists for helping me share this story. Cindy, Jessica, and Corey helped make this article that much better.

Plowing with Friends

Some people like to go on tractor drives, others strive the challenge of moving a pulling sled. One of my favorite ways to demonstrate the abilities of antique tractors is by plowing.

Years ago, farmers would work together in this manner. I’d like to think plowing is a way modern collectors celebrate that neighborly attitude. I’ve attended several plow events, and have seen the rekindled spirit of days gone by.

Don Nowak

Don Nowak invited me to bring one of my rigs over to Glenarm, IL. I had other plans, but it’s funny how plans can be changed. The amateur reporter saw the opportunity to report a story while the old time farmer wanted to turn dirt.

Big Iron

Originally there were nine of us in the furrow. John Deere dominated the ground. There was an Allis Chalmers, my Farmall 300 and a sharp little D-2 Caterpillar. Tractors were dropping out with issues and that left three.

Lloyd Frasee on a D-2 Caterpillar
Making adjustments

There is just something about being in control of a tractor straining in a furrow. The sense of power the engine is delivering, ensuring the tires are gripping and not spinning, and watching the dirt roll over in front of the plow shears. Its romantic in some sense. There is sound, sight, and smell enhancing the experience.

Unfortunately my day was quickly cut short. A fluke mechanical issue caused an electrical wiring fire. I was lucky enough to learn some tips from a couple experienced gentlemen to limp my tractor on to the trailer for its ride home. I gladly report the damage is minor and my favorite plowing set up will be good as new. From that point, I became a spectator and not a participant.

My Farmall 300 is on the trailer in the background, it’s hard to see behind the giant chair

This gave me the chance to socialize. There were old friends, familiar faces and the opportunity to meet new people. Fellow blogger and professional writer Cindy Ladage was in attendance. I encourage everyone to follow her writing on her blog Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl

Lee Curby was taking pictures during the day. He had a drone in the air. With his permission, I’m going to feature his excellent photography

Thanks Lee Curby for letting me feature your photography.

A Whole Lotta Red

There are collections, and then there are collections. Some friends and I traveled to western Iowa to view one dedicated to red power.

Photography by Kevin Periman, I didn’t think of shooting outside pictures. Thanks Kevin!

Farmall Land USA is located in Avoca, IA. The location is easily located. Its coordinates are along I-80 at exit 39. There are motels nearby for weary travelers. There is a easily recognized land mark for the red power enthusiast. Just look for the H high in the sky.

Photography by Kevin Periman

The owners, Jerry and Joyce Mez, have this extensive red line up housed in a 26,500 square foot building. The museum is well lighted and climate controled, helping to preserve the tractors. The indoor environment is also very comfortable for viewing the fine red peices.

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Many visitors were in attendance, obvious observation of the current pandemic
Just look at all that “bling”!

IH pedal tractors and toys line the walls. Any available space is filled with Harvester paraphernalia. Hats, tools and even refrigerators and freezers. If International Harvester built it, the Mez family collected it.

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Jerry also collects Cub Cadet. He has every model from the Cub “original” to the red 82 series, which were the last models Harvester produced. There were model numbers I wasn’t aware built.

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Joyce has a nice comfortable alcove displaying her touches. There are quilts on the walls, art, and of course other feminine collectables such as dolls. Honestly, I would have stepped in to examine the area more in risk of loosing my “man card” ~sarcasm A little known fact about the author. I have a quilt collection in memory of my late mom

Lady’s area, I’m not sure guys are welcome?

Now the bad news. This is the farewell season for the museum. The owners are retiring in September. The collection will be auctioned off starting in November. Farmall Land USA will soon be gone.

I want to thank Katrina Periman for the technical assistance I needed to complete this article. 

Adapting to a New Normal

2020 has been a crazy time. Five months ago, I expressed thoughts before going into an imposed lock down. Here we are going into fall, and there still isn’t a end to the drama. Science has collided with a political agenda, all being sensationalized by the media.

The predicted “delay” to this year’s tractor season has turned out to be cancellations. Major shows, fairs, auctions and other events we enjoy were regulated to the point they could not safely be held. Hard decisions had to be made, plans being made for next year….Hoping there can be a next year! Budget and revenue being a major factor. Social distancing has required us to adapt.

When there is will, there is a way. One would think the tractor passion would see an all time low. Tractor collecting is thriving and surviving! Maybe it’s a defiance, or it’s just ingenuity. Maybe it’s both, because country folk don’t just hide. We work and play hard.

One way we have adapted is the use of modern technology. Online auctions are very popular. Maybe this reason is why collections holds worth value. I’ve confessed, to the fact, my tractors are viewed in an investment perspective.

Video technology has given opportunities to show and discuss. I’ve watched many live action broadcasts from several sources such as Aumann Vintage Power and our group Antique Iron Mafia has been doing them. Social media can be a wonderful tool. I have recently become involved with a video project for Classic Tractor Fever. YouTube is even more popular now. Technology has given opportunities to see and still be safe.

There is plenty of reading and pictures available. We can still recieve tractor news via magazines Internet technology brings our bloggers who write and share pictures to enjoy. We need to continue supporting this source.

Tractor drives have become popular. My friend Cindy Ladage remarked “This is the year 2020 answer to tractor shows.” We can enjoy our old iron and fellowship of other enthusiasts while still maintaining safe social distancing. Drives are also a great way to not only look our heritage over, but experience the sounds, the smell of fuel and smoke, and to see the unit move.

Very few shows are being held this year. I did get to display once and have read reviews and viewed pictures of other shows. This is an example country folk don’t just hunker down and hide.

I imagine many peices, of collections, are getting tweaked and tuned. All the parts dealers, I’ve visited with, tell me business has been booming. Everyone is using their free time to catch up projects that were put off. There may be new equipment on display in 2021 that hasn’t been shown simply for the fact the restoration has finally been completed.

My friend Doug Edwards has many projects in his shop at Edwards Tractor Restoration. Business is good!

My tractors get “played with” on a regular basis. Thankfully the farmstead, where I keep them, has chores for them to perform. The plow shears were shined in the big garden. Weeds and grass get mowed. I have a blade for road maintenance. My tractors don’t sit idly by waiting for another year. It gets lonely playing alone though.

However you choose to stay safe needs to be respected. Social distancing seems extreme, to me, but I can respect no invasion of personal space. The future outlook shows we will need to continue to adapt. Sadly, I have my doubts, our lives will return to how we once lived. Stay safe! I hope to see everyone when the crisis finally calms down.

Heritage Awareness

2020 has unfolded to be a scary year. American people have been bombarded with so much propaganda that our history needs to be erased. Statues are being destroyed, paintings removed, all in the name of someone being offended. I’ve actually had a conversation with a friend, raised with similar values as mine, that surprised me. He thought erasing our heritage needed to happen. There are those that feel notables, of our past, do not deserve any honor.

I can’t understand why modern people are holding our forefathers accountable for happenings from long ago. Why do we, as a society, suddenly feel entitled, that we can judge and determine what history is “allowed” remembrance.

Simply we can’t forget! Our past is not rosy and perfect! Heritage is what makes us who we are. The treacherous traitors we are told were horrible people should be studied to discover their motivations. Our past is full of the honorable that stood by their convictions. Only ignorant judge without understanding.

Did anyone stop and think our past notable heroes would look at us with disgust. We are destroying and undoing everything they fought so hard to make better for us. If anything we should feel ashamed of actions. There are many that fought and died, so ignorant people have the freedom to believe and act in a stupid insolent manner of their choosing.

I’m sure there are those of like mind with me. They look at what’s happening, in our country, with regret and sad heart. Sadly that’s all we do. We sit idly by and let the travesty continue. We aren’t raising our voices in opposition and the events keep happening. When do we stand and fight to right what’s wrong?

For those that want to hide from our history and forget it. I have a profound thought.


This has happened before and its happening now. We can not bury our history and forget, we need to honor it.