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Missouri farmer remembers 1950 John Deere A
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Missouri farmer remembers 1950 John Deere A

Galen Lowrey drives a 1950 John Deere A tractor

Grundy County farmer Galen Lowrey drives a 1950 John Deere A tractor, the same kind that he bought 60 years ago as his first tractor when he started farming full time after high school. 

For farmers of all ages, thinking back to their first tractor can bring up a lot of fond memories — of getting started in farming, of planting in long-ago springs and feeding cattle in winters gone by.

Galen Lowrey got his first tractor 60 years ago, but he still remembers the process he went through to find the right one. Lowrey’s first tractor was a 1950 John Deere A, and he now collects John Deere tractors and plows on his Grundy County farm near Laredo.

“I’d just got out of high school and went up to John Deere there in Princeton,” Lowrey says.

He was thinking about getting a 4020 but ultimately decided it was more than he wanted to spend. He next went to Trenton and found the tractor for him.

“They had an old A on the back lot,” Lowrey says. “I bought it for $750. It had new tires on it, but it smoked like the devil.”

He overhauled the tractor and got several years of good use out of it. He remembers how it worked well with a plow he bought.

“I went up to Princeton, they had a high-clearance plow,” Lowrey says. “It was a heavy duty plow.”

Lowrey eventually traded the tractor in for an Oliver, but he always liked that model, and eventually bought another 1950 John Deere A at a sale in Unionville.

“I gave about $700 for it,” he says. “It was in pretty rough shape.”

But Lowrey did some transmission work on the tractor and put in some new bearings, and eventually he had the tractor running well.

Lowrey grew up working on tractors with his dad, working on the family farm near Spickard in Mercer County, and one of his favorite things about collecting the tractors is getting them running and taking them out in the field.

“I like just getting them running and plowing with them,” he says. “I like doing something with them.”

Lowrey’s 1950 John Deere A tractor is a reminder of his start in farming, and beyond the nostalgia, Lowrey appreciates the durability of the tractor and other tractors from that era.

“They’re a tough old thing,” he says. “You just can’t wear one of these old tractors out.”

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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