Social Distancing Versus Distant Socializing
It was a very strange start to 2020. On the second day of the new year, my Uncle Gerard, the man that started this magazine and who showed me my first camera and helped create a passion in me for art and photography, passed away.
Shortly after that, the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in China. A few weeks passed and it was here. Suddenly, our lives are all about handwashing and social distancing to try and slow the spread of the disease.
At first blush, this wasn’t a big challenge for me. I have a home office that is full of computers, books, manuals, and all of the things that are sold through the magazine. Though I used to have people helping me here (first Sarah, then Jill, Becky, finally Rowan), that is no longer the case. A few years ago, when Rowan needed to move on to a full-time job, I didn’t replace her.
Taking over fulfillment of orders and updating the database leaves me very little free time, especially when I am putting an issue together. I spend every weekday, pretty much by myself, with an occasional neighbor stopping by for eggs or to borrow a tool. I go to the post office once a day, sometimes twice. Beyond that, I am home.
Given all this, I have been experiencing the opposite of social distancing. My wife (who is a social worker at our local VA hospital) starting working from home in April. My older daughter’s college stopped having in-person classes as did my younger daughter’s high school. What was once a quiet workspace during the week has become a small office with everyone doing their own thing and fighting for bandwidth.
This got me thinking about how tractors naturally work to socially distance us. Generally speaking, when you are out mowing the field, plowing the garden or moving snow, you are alone on the tractor. (And for me, it is a meditative state at times.) Even when working on repairing or maintaining a tractor, there aren’t a bunch of people around, you are probably working alone.
At the same time, the N-News Magazine has, for the past 35 years, offered a type of distant socializing where subscribers get to look into someone else’s shop or hear about someone else’s memories from the printed page. It has acted as a form of cohesion in a world that seems to be tearing itself apart.
So, for the little bit of time that you sit reading this issue, think about all the ways this hobby and our collective memories have helped hold us all together.
By John Cuny. Published in the N-News spring issue, April-May-June 2020, Volume 35 Number 2 I grew up in southern California when it was bean fields, before it all became Disney Land. As a 14-year-old, I worked as a gas boy for the local seaplane company that made daily flights to Catalina Island. I was around airplanes and tugs all the time. I’m sure some of them were Fords, but I was too young to know. This experience was the impetus to become a pilot. I was a single-minded kid and was flying by age 17. I did some time in the service, and in my late 20’s I moved to Texas and took a job as a pilot with … Continue reading
Communication is a curious endeavor. It is one of the things that (supposedly) makes us humans superior to all other creatures. (That statement is worth a book all on its own – human civilization is short and we have big problems getting along, so “superior” might be the wrong descriptor.) But over the last few hundred years, our methods for communication have evolved so dramatically it is mind bending. Continue reading
I bought my 1956 660 from a farm auction in the spring of 2015. The tractor is unrestored. I like the dings and faded paint – it gives it character. I rebuilt a tandem axle trailer and built a set of forks for the 3-point hitch. For now this 660’s major job is to get firewood, but we still enjoy riding it in the parade. Continue reading
I bought my 1948 8N as a partially dis-assembled unit almost 30 years ago. In early November I tried to start it and for the first time it was a “no go.” My lesson: solving a starting problem means you need to look at the possible issues and fix them as you find them…and there might be more than one! Continue reading
We purchased this five-acre property in 2000 from my wife’s parent’s estate. A man about five miles away had the 8N sitting along the road for sale and we made a deal. My brother had bought his NAA from a neighbor and I had the 1948 8N at the time. I traded the 8N to him for the NAA (I’ve had it since 2004) and find the NAA to be a much more versatile tractor. We’ave added a couple of pieces of land since then and now have 25 acres and the NAA has been the workhorse! Continue reading
Back in stock! How to Restore Ford Tractors: The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding and Restoring N-Series and Later Tractors 1939-1962 does an excellent job of hashing out the details of restoring a vintage Ford tractor. Published in 2008 with over 200 pages, this soft cover edition includes wonderful pictures of unusual models and options scattered throughout the pages (as are many photos of hands-on, down and dirty restoration work being done). Though the book emphasizes the N-series machines, overhead valve Hundred Series machines are covered as well.
Ford Fire Trucks by Kent Parrish is a wide ranging collection with tremendous captioned info with each photo. And there are a lot of photos, over 400, most in color but some in black and white. Ranging from 1917 Model T’s that were custom built into fire engines all the way to 2009, the book is broken up into ten chapters, roughly one for each decade.