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

| Good Old Days

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

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