The view from a tractor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Ever since Dick Chapman was a five-year-old sitting on a tractor with his dad, steering occasionally, the giant metal monsters that rule farms have meant something to him.

Now he’s got 17 tractors. Not all of them work, but two of them &045; a 1954 McCormick Farmall Super C and a 1954 John Deere Model 60 &045; are among 231 tractors in a tractorcade that left Mason City Monday and made its way to the county fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon.

Tractors are part of Chapman’s life, and all that goes with that drove him to participate in what to some might seem silly, but to him is a something special.

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Standing amidst the purring and growling of antique tractors, smelling the gasoline, exhaust and freshly cut grass, Chapman explained partially why he loves tractors.

&uot;Why do you like women?&uot; he asked a visitor. He summed it in one word: &uot;Feeling.&uot;

That’s how he described why he enjoyed driving on Tuesday, looking at the countryside. &uot;It’s a good feeling. It’s the best thing we’ve even seen. We look up and, oh man, it’s God’s world.&uot;

At this his wife, Mary, made an off-color remark on just how much her husband enjoys tractors, but she seems to understand him.

&uot;It makes him happy and puts a gleam in his eye,&uot; she said. Mary said the opportunity to drive tractors as a child made a lifelong impact on her husband. &uot;If you’d had the opportunity, maybe it’d put a gleam in your eye too.&uot;

She explained how his love for tractors has spilled into his life and led to an education in mechanics. How the interest in what a tractor can do, how it works, turned into a love of the smell and the machine that he affectionately refers to as &uot;she.&uot;

His interest and that of others fueled many conversations on Tuesday.

&uot;I’d like to hook a plow to that John Deere and listen to it talk,&uot; Dick said, referring to the sound the tractors make.

Standing around talking about tractors is something that he said made the event great. In a circle of tractor drivers he discussed the first time he drove a tractor without supervision, or without even his dad knowing.

He knocked down a few rows of corn and had to conceal the mess by putting dirt mounds around the stalks.

Tractors are part of his life.

Now driving the tractor gives Chapman peace and tranquility. The speed of a car doesn’t allow people to enjoy the scenery, Chapman said. But in a tractor, he had the time to observe a heard of cattle crossing a river and the crowds waving at him and the rest of the tractorcade.

He has about 50 miles to go today before he gets back to Mason City. He’ll probably enjoy every minute.

(Contact Tim Sturrock at or 379-3438.)