April 22 is a very important day for our family!
On this day, in 1954, my grandfather brought home a shiny new Ford NAA tractor that he paid $1800 for. His family thought he was crazy, because he bought it on credit.
Now, to us in this day of astronomical credit card debt for lifestyle purchases, this may not seem like any big deal, but in 1954 it was certainly a big deal for my grandfather, who worked a hard, blue-collar job as a night line-switchman for the railroad.
But this is also one of my grandfather’s proudest tales, the tale he tells me everytime he has a chance, about how we took landscaping work in his daylight off-hours from the railroad so that he could make that tractor pay for itself. And despite the disbelief of his family, he paid it off before the note was due.
He has owned that tractor free-and-clear for 53 years, and it has been his workmate for that many planting seasons.
It still runs beautifully, and although it is no longer beautiful by ordinary physical standards, I find it to be a thing of great beauty, this strong American tractor still working alongside this strong American man.
At the risk of seeming tritely poetic, the NAA is the totem of my grandfather: dependable, rough around the edges, strong but worn. Both the man and his tractor have worked hard to pay off their debts and live independently, and both just keep on working and living.
To honor the NAA that my grandfather loves, I’ll repost some pictures from earlier postings.
Here’s how the tractor looks today:
Here’s what it looked like new:
So, Happy Birthday, NAA! I’m awfully glad that you joined our family those many years ago!