Last week my brother and I took our Dad (and my son) to the I & I Antique Tractor Show located in Penfield, Illinois. This is an annual antique tractor show that my Dad attends. My Dad was a farmer from 1961 – 2002. He retired from farming in 2002. Three generations of Ritchie’s lived and worked on the same farmstead four miles south of Colfax, IL.
Pictured below is may Dad, Gail Ritchie, and my son, Jackson Ritchie. The tractor in this picture is a tractor that has been in the Ritchie family for three generations. My grandfather and my Dad both used this tractor to farm with over the last (almost) 60 years! My Dad has restored this tractor and it is part of his collection of “Allis-Chalmers” antique tractors – the tractor of choice for the Ritchie Family.
The I&I Tractor Club has an annual antique tractor show “Historic Farm Days” in Penfield, Illinois, every year. There are hundreds of antique tractors and other farm equipment at this show. Each year they “feature” a different brand of tractor — such as John Deere, Case, Allis-Chalmers, etc.
This year Historic Farm Days featured Allis-Chalmers tractors. My Dad brought his “D-17” Allis-Chalmers to this tractor show. A big thank you to Paul “Beefy” Bielfeldt for taking the D-17 up to the tractor show for us this year.
Rows of Allis-Chalmers Tractors at the I&I Historic Farm Days Tractor Show. Allis-Chalmers tractors have their trademark “Persian Orange” color that distinguish it from other tractors.
Using golf carts is the preferred mode of transportation at the Historic Farm Days Tractor show. My brother Jay Ritchie is at the wheel, Gail Ritchie and Jackson Ritchie are also along for the ride.
This is a picture of the Ritchie Homestead about 4 miles south of Colfax, IL — where Ritchie’s farmed for three generations. I have this picture hanging up in my home office. Many fond memories growing up on this farm. Walking beans, hitting a baseball against the corn crib off of a custom tee my Dad made for me (welding a pipe on a disc with a rubber tube on top); practicing basketball in the barnyard. Working on projects in the machine shed.
Here is a video of my Dad explaining to my son how this “corn picker” worked. These machines were used before modern combines were invented. They would pick the whole corn cob off of the stalk of corn — the corn kernals were not shelled in the process. Click on the picture above for a short explanation from Gail Ritchie.
Farming was and still is a dangerous profession. This is a warning plate that was on the corn picker above. Back when my Dad was a kid – my son’s age – 10 — his family had a hired hand that lived with them. His name was Roy “Fat” Savage. (Everyone called him by his nickname “Fat”)
One Fall day Fat was operating the Corn Picker when a cornstalk or something got stuck in the machinery. Fat got off the tractor to try to get whatever it was dislodged from the cornpicker — without turning the power off. Fat’s hand got caught in the cornpicker. Fat was out there in the middle of the field with no one there to help him – his hand caught in the corn picker.
Fat had to take his pocket knife out of his pocket with his free hand, open up the knife, and cut off his two fingers that were lodged in the cornpicker so he could get back to the farm house and get help. Those are what they call the “good old days.”