MALDEN — Local tractor enthusiasts flipping through their 2014 edition of the Classic Farm Tractors calendar, might recognize the stunning 1935 Case Model CC on the June page.
The tractor belongs to Gerald and Joyce Linker of Malden, who were one of 12 families selected to showcase their pride and joy in the 25th edition of the calendar.
The Linkers say their son, Steve, deserves most of the credit for this notable opportunity, as he is the one who took on the challenge of restoring the tractor from its once despairing state.
While it took several years and much dedication to complete the daunting project, Steve admits it was worth every dime spent, every short-cut avoided and every minute drained.
“It means an awful lot. I couldn’t be happier and more proud for my family,” he said. “My dad is really the one who kept me in it all these years.”
While the farm machine is considered a very unique and attractive piece, especially with its very rare original orange color, it’s the story behind the tractor that prompted John Harvey to call up the Linker family and ask them to be a part of his well-known calendar.
The Case tractor was purchased brand new by Gerald’s father, Bill, in 1935. He sold the tractor in 1955 to a Roscoe couple by the name of Harold and Marion Lines. The family farmed with the tractor in Illinois and Wisconsin, until they retired it years later. The tractor sat on their farm until 1998, when Marion’s brother, Harold Steele of Dover, discovered the tractor had once belonged to Gerald’s father. Steele just happens to also be a distant cousin of Joyce Linker. Meaning, the tractor unknowingly stayed in the Linker family through the marriage of Joyce and Gerald.
When the restoration was complete, the Linkers invited Marion to visit their farm to see the tractor. Marion, who was 97 years old, was hesitant because of her poor health at the time. With the help of her family, however, she made the trip from Rockford. When she saw the tractor, she jumped out of her wheelchair and walked right up to get a better look. It was the first time her family had seen her walk in a long time.
Along with being featured in the 2014 calendar, the Linkers were also interviewed and filmed for a documentary that shares each tractor’s story on those selected for the 2014 calendar. The documentary is to be aired on TV.
“There’s a million antique tractors in the country, and to be one in 12 selected — to me it’s a pretty big deal,” Steve said.
He says his biggest motivation to keep the restoration going was his father. He said when Gerald was battling bad health issues, he moved back home and figured he could do something to allow one more ride for his father.
“All I could do was try,” he said. “Dad taught me what I know, and I told him I guess what you taught me is what you’re going to get. It’s turned out awesome. He’s pretty happy; we couldn’t be any happier.”
The Linkers’ tractor was restored is in memory of Betty Linker and Margie Steele, Harold’s late wife.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.