Vintage tractor drivers enjoy all-day jaunt

Event had special meaning to one entry

Adam Elley and his nine-year-old son Seth of Mokane ride an International Harvester McCormick-Deering Farmall H tractor Saturday morning at Readsville during the annual Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society's annual Callaway Vintage Tractor Drive. Their 1940 Model H International was the oldest tractor entered in the event.

Adam Elley and his nine-year-old son Seth of Mokane ride an International Harvester McCormick-Deering Farmall H tractor Saturday morning at Readsville during the annual Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society's annual Callaway Vintage Tractor Drive. Their 1940 Model H International was the oldest tractor entered in the event. Photo by Don Norfleet.

Adam Elley of Mokane, who grew up on a Callaway County farm near Hams Prairie, has some special memories of the International Harvester McCormick-Deering Farmall H farm tractor he and his nine-year-old son Seth drove Saturday through eastern Callaway County.

They were participating in the all-day 7th annual Callaway Vintage Tractor Drive sponsored by the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society and Modern Farm Equipment Co.

Elley’s old 1940 model International Harvester McCormick-Deering Farmall H, a very common working tractor throughout Missouri during World War II, was the oldest of the 52 tractors entered in Saturday’s Vintage Tractor Drive.

Elley bought the old International H about 10 years ago from Sue Dillon of Steedman. It wouldn’t run. So Elley installed a new battery and spark plugs. He tuned up the now 72-year-old tractor and drove it home.

About two years after Elley bought the tractor, his son Seth developed cancer when he was 18 months old. Seth was undergoing rigorous treatment that caused the toddler to become depressed, agitated and irritable.

Elley took his troubled young son for rides on the old tractor and it wasn’t long before Seth was grinning from ear to ear.

“People would see us riding around all the time near our home,” Elley said. “They got a big kick out of seeing us so often.”

Elley installed a wide padded bench with rails to provide plenty of room for both of them during their tractor rides.

“This old tractor has a lot of personal memories for both of us,” Elley said. “Seth is now in remission from cancer and he’s doing great.”

Elley and his wife now have another son, two-year-old Sam. Now Elley and both of his sons enjoy riding together on the old tractor.

On Saturday, it was Elley and Seth who were perched high on the old Farmall H tractor as it rumbled down the road from Readsville for an 18-mile trip around the nuclear plant and then on to Portland.

At Portland, Elley and the 51 other entries in the Vintage Tractor Drive stopped for lunch at the newly constructed Portland Community Hall to replace the old building that burned last year. Funds from the lunch benefited the new Community Hall.

In the afternoon, the old tractors made their way down the road for another 13 miles before their day-long jaunt ended. It was time to head back to the house and look forward to next year’s drive.

Barbara Huddleston, curator of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society Museum, said the turnout of 52 vintage tractor entries, which had to have been manufactured prior to 1970, was less than all previous years.

“It could be the excessive heat we have been experiencing or it could be the economy. I don’t know. But after insurance costs and other expenses, we probably won’t make much this year,” Huddleston said.

Participants in the vintage tractor drive came from throughout Missouri, including one entry of a 1944 Farmall H from Lisle, Ill.

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