When the Wilson family became tenant farmers near Minburn, Iowa, the spring of 1939, they hadn’t had a car since late 1934. (That was the Model T truck which became their “roadster“–and is on the cover of Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.)
Their son Donald was in the Navy, aboard the crew of the USS Yorktown (CV-5). Four sons moved to the farm with Clabe and Leora. Delbert had already served his four years enlistment in the Navy. Dale graduated from Dexter High School that May. Danny and Junior were in high school. Dale, Danny, and Junior had never had a chance to learn to drive.
The landlord was delighted with all those big sons to help farm. He had an old truck but he farmed with horses.
By 1941, he had bought a John Deere A tractor, which the brothers enjoyed learning to drive and take care of it. Then the war broke out.
Delbert rejoined the Navy and Dale enlisted in the Army Air Force to become a pilot. In this 1942 photo, Danny Wilson is cultivating corn. Their mother Leora is at left, and Junior behind the tractor.
A year later, Junior wrote one of his brothers in the military that the John Deere was “in its summer dress,” meaning the cultivator. Before Junior left for the AAF, Clabe finally got to drive the tractor.
The John Deere Model A was the first true row crop tractor and the first tractor to come from the factory in Waterloo, Iowa, with rubber tires. These John Deeres were called “Johnny poppers” because of their distinctive sound.