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Tractor collectors gather round Waterloo Fairgrounds
Illinois Correspondent

WATERLOO, Ill. — During the first weekend in June, tractor collectors headed to the Waterloo Fairgrounds to celebrate their hobby. At this year’s show, there were tractors of all makes and models, but one beautiful 1960 Oliver 990 was in a class all by itself.

This tractor was 14-year-old C.J. Klein’s favorite. Although Klein, of Columbia, Ill., had a chance to choose between bringing the family’s John Deere R or the Oliver 990, he chose the 990 hands down.

“I like it because of the sound,” Klein said referring to the purr of the 990’s GM diesel engine.

His 12-year-old sister, Julie, agreed wholeheartedly when Klein added that he also likes it because “it is big, loud and noticeable.”

Collecting and restoring tractors is a family affair for the Klein family - a way to keep the kids busy and involved with the family farm. Klein comes by his interest in things that move directly through genetics.

“Before tractors, I played with cars and trucks,” Klein’s grandfather, Charles, said. Tractors fit his lifestyle.

“I’ve lived on a farm all my life,” he said. “I farmed with Case then got involved with John Deere because of my grandson. This is John Deere country.”

Now retired from farming and working only at his tinkering and repair service on riverboat barges, Charles added that although the Klein family collecting began with Deere, they have branched out in recent years.

“I started collecting about five years ago. We now have 17 or 18 tractors of different brands,” Charles said.

Many visitors expressed their admiration for antique tractors. Miranda Meier, 9, of Paducah, Ky., had her miniature Model A John Deere at the Waterloo, Ill. tractor show. This is a tractor that Miranda’s grandfather, John Meier, had built for her.

On a poster at her display, Meier wrote, “My grandpa, John Meier, and I talked about a tractor for myself, so (the miniature John Deere Model A) is what he made for me. It took him two months to build it. It looks almost like Daddy’s (Chuck Meier) tractor, and I love to drive it in parades with Daddy.”

John Meier, Miranda’s grandfather, was self-effacing about the whole thing.

“This is just a hobby I do with my son, Chuck,” he said. “It has become a family tradition to have a tractor and I wanted my granddaughter to have one.”

Although his daughter, Abbie, wasn’t able to join him on this trip, Cliff McNames was thinking of her as he shared their collection of unusual farm items from their little museum they call McNames’ Yesteryear Museum.

“My 10-year-old daughter, Abbie, and I have a little museum at the house,” McNames said. “We have an open house once a year. I consider myself a collector of odd junk.”

This is a private museum that McNames opens up to share with those that work with him and go to their church, and the neighbors that see him dragging items home. He and Abbie enjoy the collecting and spending time together.

“I put the museum together when Abbie was six,” he said. “McNames Yesteryear Museum is located in East Carondelet, Ill., that’s outside of the Columbia, Dupo area.”

Items McNames had at the show also included a miniature Farmall he had built and a JD pedal tractor he had customized for a friend’s child for Christmas. He also had a cute little Struck mini-dozer he said was used to scoop out chicken droppings from chicken houses.

This farm news was published in the June 28, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.