Why Is My 92-Year-Old Father Going Viral On Twitter?
I just got back from a pleasant vacation spent with family in Iowa. Before I even got my bags out of my car my neighbor came up to me and said, "Dude! I saw your Dad's picture on the internet. Pretty cool!"
Then I got back to work and before I'd cleared my emails a coworker walked in, held up his phone so I could see it, and asked, "Is this your Dad?"
What in the world could make my 92-year-old Dad a viral sensation on the internet?
In a word, tractors. In two words, wooden tractors. John Deere tractors to be precise.
If you look closely you'll see a couple pieces that are not John Deere green. Dad says my uncle Cliff used to have a Case like that and asked him to make one. What can you say? There's one in every crowd.
For as long as I can remember my Dad has been making miniature John Deere tractors in his spare time. He started making the simple, early model "Poppin' Johnnies" that he loves so well.
They may look simple at first glance, but on most of them the clutch lever moves the flywheel brake, the throttle lever activates the linkage to the carburetor, and the shift lever moves into all of the positions.
Then he moved on to the more modern tractors. Many feature steerable front wheels, moveable three-point hitches, removable front-end weights, attachable front-end loaders and more. He's even got a spreader with working apron and beaters. He'll load it with sawdust and pull it along the floor or tabletop to demonstrate when he takes them on the road to county fairs and historical events.
Of course if you've got machinery to plant crops you'll need something to harvest them so he's got a good lineup of combines, too. It doesn't matter whether it's corn or beans in the field, the heads are interchangeable.
All in all he's probably got more than 100 pieces that he's built over the years and it's brought him a lot of attention, most recently when he displayed some of them at the Plymouth County Fair in LeMars, Iowa. One social media post led to another and the next thing you know he's a rock star.
A couple of years ago the Foster Brothers came out and shot some video, letting Dad explain things in his own quiet way.
Growing up around these things they were just really cool models that I wasn't allowed to play with. Now they're really cool miniature tractors that made my Dad a viral sensation.
Almost everything is made of wood. There's a little bit of wire or bent nails, maybe some tin, and a bit of plastic or plexiglass for the windows of the cabs. Most of the work is done with a coping saw, some wood files, and sandpaper. The rear wheels got a lot better once he discovered Dremels.
Just don't tell him he's gone viral, he's likely to ask if he needs to see a doctor.