Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh Pedal Tractor...

Couple of weekends ago when we were at the hillbilly flea market I spotted a pedal tractor that was pretty close to the one I had when I was little. I got to thinking about it again and started Googling "Murray Pedal Tractor" and I'll be danged if I didn't find the EXACT one that I had. I stole a picture (shhh)

Now is that freakin' cool or what? Seriously... THAT is the epitome of a hot rod pedal tractor. I remember those painted on spark plugs and the cool exhaust pipes painted on the chain guard... everything. Same colors and all. Most of my cool toys like that came from the Western Auto store in town. Walt Hobson, the owner, and my Dad were fishing buddies and Walt had one of the coolest "boy" sections in town... the upstairs part was always packed at Christmas time with electric trains and cymbal smashin' wind up monkeys. All sorts of playing in the dirt toys like dump trucks and tractors were in abundance.

Anyway when I saw the old Murray pedal tractor it reminded me of a couple of pretty memorable rides.

At my Grandpa and Grandma's house there was a long cement ramp that led from the garage down to the basement of the house... with a door at the bottom of that ramp. I was probably 'bout 6 or so and I eyeballed that situation up one day and decided that I could ride my tractor down that ramp, stop at the bottom, get off, open the door and ride into the basement.

That's pretty much how it went except the stopping at the bottom and getting off part.

By the time I got to the bottom of the ramp I'd already careened offa the wall a couple of times like a Nascar racer, trying to slow the thing down, but rubbing the wall did nothing to reduce the speed. By the time I hit the door at the bottom I passed Albert Einstein standing there writing a thesis on man's ability to break the speed of light. Old Al was just standing there with his jaw hanging down. I didn't have time to wave or chat with him though... because a very serious event was about to happen.

And it did.

When I got stopped I was in the basement wedged in between the water heater and water softner surrounded by splinters and door latch parts. I immediately tried to piece the door back together so no one would notice it was in 100 pieces... but that's pretty tough for a 6 year old. I had to confess my recklessness to my Grandma. I don't remember being in any big trouble, or even bleeding a whole lot, but it was exciting enough that I remember everything else 'bout it.

I was always pretty disappointed with my tractors performance in the mud, mostly it would just sink and not having near enough traction on the tires, I would just pedal my heart out and spin and then push it outta whatever swamp I was attempting to cross.

A few years went by and my Dad pretty much let me do whatever I wanted in the shop. I was using a welder and acetylene torch quite awhile before I was a teenager. He'd given be direction, being an excellent welder himself and basically said "Don't burn the shop down or blow yourself up." and turned me loose. I welded everything that was weldable and cut up everything that was in too large of pieces to suit my whim of the moment.

Being a farm there was always a nice pile of scrap iron to weld into something of beauty... and one day, the old Murray pedal tractor became the object of my pre-pubescent mayhem.

It had long became an ornament of the barnyard as I had outgrown it by several years so it seemed fair game. Seeing the prices of some of these things nowdays, I know the error of my ways now.

There was about 8 feet of an old steel ladder, like a real light fire escape type of thing, and a fair collection of tortured bicycles and lawn mowers and such. I took the front wheel off of the tractor, welded the ladder onto the front end of the pedal tractor, did away with the original back tires and rigged up a couple of bike tires in their place and welded the front end of an old riding mower to the other end of the ladder. Steering you know...

As I remember it now I think I spent probably 3 days building this monstrosity. It took "minutes" to make me want to forget about it.

With the bike wheels just spinning on the axles, it was a "coaster" so I pushed it out to the road, at the top of a very big and long hill... climbed on, kicked off and went on a ride that would have made a space shuttle launch look like a ride on your grandma's Rascal Scooter in comparison.

This whole thing probably weighed 150 pounds and about halfway down the hill I realized that I was committed to doom. I have no idea how fast it was going, but it was rolling pretty good, because the physics of what happened when it left the road... only speed can do what it did.

I left the road in a sudden dart to the right, the front end of the lawnmower stuck in the grader ditch bank and.... c a t a p u l t e d me like a pole vaulter. It was all slow motion. Every single time something like this has happened to me I've had the slow mo thing.

I gained altitude and was headed to land directly on a barbed wire fence. I missed it, but as it turned out it might have been a better alternative to the landing that I got. I hit the ground so hard I think I had an "accident" and then 150 pounds of Murray pedal tractor/fire escape ladder/riding lawnmower crashed down on me.

When I got crawled out from under the wreckage I got to the road, walked to the house, got some bandaids and Mercurochrome, patched myself up and sulked.

I remember that thing laying there in the grader ditch for weeks. Everytime I saw it I shuddered.

Anyhow, I wish I had it back now, just to look at... nothing else. I promise I wouldn't try to ride it.



Jerry said...

That sounds like a lot more fun than I had sliding off the barn into a manure pile. And at least you sealed your fate by choice. Me, I was just stupid, and Grandpa took advantage of that on several occasions as I recall. It took me a couple years not to scowl when he laughed about the look on my face when I hit that poop pile.

Never did get that lightening rod replaced up there...... :)

ANOTHER great story, Jace!!

WowsRose said...

First - what happened to it? Junk guys take it years ago or something??

Second, Jerry - I'm glad to find out my brothers and I aren't the only ones that played in manure...LOL

MarmiteToasty said...

Cant remember where I popped over from but Im here lol.... Your blob is a refreshing blokie blob.... I will return to read more..


Anonymous said...

there's a few on Ebay

Jerry (again) said...

Oh yeah! That's a classic tractor, man (aka "anonymous"). I never owned one, but I remember them.

$9.99, Jace!! LOL!

Jennifer and Sandi said...

That was one pretty tractor. And your dad let you use a ladder? Heck, ladders are NOT cheap. Maybe they were back then?

GREAT story!!!!

Happy Monday!

- Jennifer