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Tractor show gives iron lovers their fill

March 18, 2002|BY JULIE E. GREENE

Dwayne Flohr was getting a bit of a history lesson Saturday at Valley Mall.

Dwayne, 13, was checking out the antique tractors on display with his father, stopping at each tractor to listen to his father talk about his experiences or offer opinions about the machinery.

"I worked with a lot of this stuff back in 1958, '59, '60," said Merle Flohr, 56, of the Martinsburg, W.Va., area.

The "stuff" Flohr referred to was the tractors that had been on display for the past week throughout the mall, ending Saturday. The machinery is owned and was restored by members of the Washington County Antique Tractor Club, club President Doug Diehl said.


The Spring Show included Farmalls, Allis-Chalmers and John Deeres, also known as "putt-putts" for the sound their two-cylinder gasoline engines make.

The Flohrs are Allis-Chalmers men, wearing their favorite tractor brand's hats as evidence.

"Old iron is like a disease," Merle Flohr said. "It's a passion a lot of men get into."

Flohr's passion includes three tractors - a 1941 and two 1948s, one of which he is rebuilding.

The older tractors are a "lot better than the newer ones," Dwayne Flohr said.

His father agreed.

"They last longer, better made, easier to maintain," Merle Flohr said.

The newer tractors also are big.

"They don't make smaller stuff now," said Jim Ellison, 59, of Glastonbury, Conn. Ellison was in town visiting family when he found out about the tractor show and took his grandchildren to see some of the iron he used to drive.

Ellison said he had five tractors, but sold three "because my wife said I had too much iron in the yard."

He's left with a 1949 Allis-Chalmers "G" and a 1947 John Deere "B" similar to one that was on display at the mall.

Ellison said he drove to South Carolina to get the John Deere "B."

"I like John Deere and Allis-Chalmers, but my dream is to have a Ford, John Deere (and) Allis-Chalmers," Ellison said. "Anything I drove, I want to get."

Ellison was raised on a farm, but no longer needs the tractors for practical purposes.

He keeps them for "nostalgia." Now that he's retired, he wants to start restoring his tractors and hopes to get his grandchildren involved.

Butch Mullins, 44, of Martinsburg, W.Va., has ridden his brother-in-law's tractor so he was appreciating the handiwork at Saturday's show.

"It's amazing that they restored them so well," Mullins said.

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