Hobbies & friends: Where do you meet good folks?

by Jordan Green

Where do you meet good folks? The answer is probably different for everyone. Some of us meet them at tractor shows.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine in the vintage tractor world was talking about his latest addition to his collection: an Oliver 1850 Row Crop tractor. Roger Schmidt, who lives just across the Kansas state line, bought the aforementioned Oliver from a gentleman named Fred, who called this his favorite tractor. Fred had owned it for a while.

Before selling the tractor to Roger, Fred gave it a thorough restoration and a good cleaning. The sale of the tractor was hard on Fred. Roger assured Fred the tractor was going to a good home. And in response, “Fred’s eyes gleamed, and his world was good,” Roger said. “We collect more than tractors,” Roger said.

“We collect friends.” His story is a testament to that truth. Old tractors, like many things, were built to be tough and practically last forever.

But what lasts even longer than any physical object are the friendships we form through caring for the stuff we’re passionate about. I got my first old tractor back in 2016.

My late friend Dennis Muret had a 1949 Farmall Cub he’d kept in his barn east of Blackwell. It didn’t run, but it didn’t cost me anything, either. Dennis knew I’d wanted to have something to work on, and he gave me a spectacular project. Best of all, I got to spend time with him talking about the tractor and keeping him apprised of my adventures with it.

That did my heart good. And I think it did his good, too. With that tractor, I’ve since met countless people who have become my closest friends – and members of my “adopted” family. Do you have an “old tractor” in your life? That’s a metaphor, of course.

Maybe you’re a baseball card or comic book fanatic. A musical instrument enthusiast. A book collector. Do you have a common bond that you share with someone else?

A hobby you’re passionate about, a revered collection, even just a habit of visiting a memorable place? You see, collecting tractors is a way of filling one’s heart and mind with stories, just like collecting stamps, fine China or anything else.

It’s the same principle as joining a fishing league, hunting with friends or getting together with your neighbors to watch the big game. It’s all about finding a way to bond with others. Collectors want to preserve the history of their stuff, and they want to make sure their collection is properly cared for well into the future.

Many have a strong emotional attachment to their collections. A collection could have started with a family heirloom; maybe it started in a person’s youth and has carried on ever since. But no matter the “how” or “why,” we all want to make new memories by sharing our collections with friends and family – and by meeting new friends and family.

By coming together and having something in common, we can find the unity, peace, and happiness we all want – and need – more of in our lives.

Anyone can, no matter what you choose to put your heart and soul into. When you bring together folks with these values, you’ve got some incredible friendships.

Today, consider what you’re passionate about and think of how you can channel that passion into a new friendship.

As I reflect on my closest friendships, I’m reminded of a quote I heard the other day: “It’s amazing the number of great people in my life that I wouldn’t have ever met if it weren’t for old tractors.” I don’t know who said that, but I’d like to meet him. Might become a great friend.