The Snake and My Russell/Fordson Grader
Rt. 1, Box 373, Mt. Crawford, Virginia 22841
I got this Russell/Fordson motor grader, serial number 229, and
the snake, one hundred miles from my home. I came across this
machine while walking through a woods in May. I stopped and took a
long look and thought, 'What a piece of junk!' Lying under
this machine was a large black snake, so I didn't get too
close. For as long as I can remember, I never liked those long
critters. This was my first visit to this farm and we were house
sitting with our grandchildren.
About a year passed by, and I was told that the farm would be
sold and if I wanted the grader I could have it. I said, 'No
way would I want that piece of junk!' However, I would walk out
there and take another look. Guess what! There was that black
snake! Later we returned the one hundred miles home.
Several days later a Mr. Benson came by my machine shop for some
repairs on one of his F20 Farmall tractors that he collects. I knew
he would be interested in the old grader as he has other machines
he plays with in tractor pulls. I offered the grader to him. He
told me he was not interested and that I should take it for myself.
I said to him, 'You must think I am nuts to haul that thing 100
miles up here.' A couple of days went by and Mr. Benson called
to say he thought he had a way I could get that machine to the
valley for maybe nothing. He had just bought a John Deere H for a
Mr. Smith, a tractor collector who lived only ten miles from where
the grader was located, and that he was coming here with a trailer
that would haul five tons. He gave me Mr. Smith's phone number,
and I don't know why I called, but I did. I told him of the
grader. He said he would be glad to look at the machine to see if
he could haul it. I got into my car the next Sunday, picked up Mr.
Smith at his home ten miles from the grader, and went to see the
machine. We saw the grader together, and there was that black
snake! The snake felt our presence and crawled into the bottom
rusted-out gas tank. Mr. Smith said, 'He has a home in
there.' I offered the snake and grader to him. He said no, but
he would be glad to bring it to the Shenandoah Valley for me when
farming allowed some playing time to pick up his tractor.
A week or so went by and I received a phone call from Mr. Smith.
The grader was on his trailer and he was coming today. He had
picked it up two days earlier and parked it by his house. He asked
for the best way to come to my place. I told him to come west on
1-64 and north on 1-81, exit 235 east, plus some Rockingham County
roads. True to his word, here coming into my drive was the grader.
We unloaded the machine. Coming up the interstate highway Mr. Smith
said he heard this car honking its horn and the people were
pointing to this black snake up on the steering wheel of the
grader. He said this happened many more times and that the last
time he saw the snake was back about 20 miles and the snake was
hanging down over the edge of the trailer. He guessed he finally
fell off. We continued to talk tractors and other good stuff for
some time. Then we noticed the snake coming out of the gas tank!
He's dead now, after a 100-mile trip. He measured out at six
feet, six inches in length. I paid Mr. Smith and thanked him and he
went to get his John Deere H tractor.
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