WAYNESBORO, GA – Born in Georgia, raised on a farm and the youngest of nine children, Clifford Jones remembers vividly the first time he laid eyes on a tractor. It was without a doubt, love at first sight.
“Four or five years of age, before I started school, a wealthy farmer across the road from us had the first tractor. He brought the first tractor in the community. Then my older brother was the first one, that I knew of, other than that gentleman that had a tractor. He bought a Model B on steel wheels in 1939, and of course, I drove the tractors right on up until I went off to war in 1950,” says Jones.
Elizabeth Jones, Clifford’s wife, says “he just has a fire burning inside of him, you know? Deep inside, and I see it quite a bit. I’ve seen it with the tractors, definitely.”
“Like I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised 35 miles from here, been here all my life. I’ve known Mr. Clifford for many, many years, coming to our auctions and never, never dreamed that this kind of collection was this close to me. Being in my business is what makes it even harder to believe. I’m in the tractor business, the tractor selling business, anyway. So, to find out there was 100-piece collection of antique tractors 35 miles from my home was pretty remarkable,” says Adam Lane from Lane Bothers Auction Company.
Mr. Clifford says he bought his first tractor in 1968 and in the years since, has traveled the country looking to add to his collection. Each tractor has a different story and each tractor has a special meaning. But, as he prepares to celebrate his 89th birthday, Mr. Clifford says, it is time. Time to let the next generation of collectors own parts or all of his collection and maybe someday share their story.
“I’d like for somebody to have them that appreciate them and enjoy having them as much as I have and take care of them and maybe after another 50 years, pass them on to somebody else,” says Jones.
“I mean, you’ve got back in the 30’s and all the way up into the 60’s and the tractors are all in excellent condition. When we were washing some of the tractors, we had to pull some outside and I asked, ‘Mr. Clifford, some of these tractors may have to spend the night outside.’ They had never spent the night outside. So, just the quality and you know, the extent of the collection and the fact that it’s pretty much everything from A to 830. There are Model A’s to the 830 Diesel, which is something you don’t see in Georgia,” says Lane.
“I was thinking some of these things I’ve had for more than 50 years and they become kind of like family members after a while. They’ll say, ‘which one would you want to keep or, which one do you like or, which one would you give up?’ My answer is that they’re all like children. ‘Which one of your children would you want to give up?’,” says Jones.
By: Ray D’Alessio