Missouri Girl Drove Ford Tractor, Helped Harvest on the Family Farm

A Missouri woman recalls driving a Ford Tractor as a child during the war years to help her father harvest on the family farm
CAPPER's Staff
Good Old Days
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We had a Ford tractor on a 160-acre family farm during the war years of the 1940s. My brother was 14 when somehow he fell off and the tractor ran over him. Dad could not get men to work on the family farm as they were all at war. He had to work off the family farm to make a living, so I had to help out, even though I was a 13-year-old girl. I drove for hay baling, I plowed people's gardens and I pulled big trucks out of the mud up on the unpaved highway a quarter-mile from our house. I helped pay my way through college by driving that Ford. I pretty well knew most of its nuts and bolts.

One day I was plowing away, and at the end of the row, as I lifted the plow, my tractor tipped over. The axle had snapped off and the big rear wheel fell under the tractor, keeping it from tipping clear over.

When we had wheat to shock, Dad would get several boys from town to come help. They didn't know how to shock and theirs would fall over. They also did not know how to get the water out of the carburetor. I kept busy all day keeping the tractor going and fixing their shocks.

I also kinda felt I got the worst end of the deal when the threshers all came. I had to do the girl stuff, like clean the chickens and peel the potatoes for the lunch, plus wash the dishes! I had to drive the tractor to pull the wagons for the shocks of wheat or haul the grain to the barn. But then everyone had to do all they could to get the harvest done.

Some of the neighbors wondered then if I'd ever give up my jeans and wear a dress. I married a preacher and had four children, so I've worn lots of dresses after all!

Gloria Williams
Grandview, Missouri

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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