The little tractor that could

Lyle Carter
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It was April 2, 1965, and cold outside as Frank Smith returned to his Little Dyke, Colchester County home after searching for fire wood on one of his woodlots.
Driving a Ford tractor, he stopped at one end of Little Dyke Pond to check the ice and make certain that it was safe to make the regular crossing. After checking the pond he decided to proceed.
"My sister Francis and I were returning home after attending school in Bass River," his daughter Linda (Smith) Giddens recalled. "I was in Grade 7 and Francis was in Grade 12. When the school bus rounded the curve near the pond, the sun was shining brightly and we could see that there was activity on the pond.
"This alarmed me. There were people standing around a hole in the ice. My first thought was that someone must have drowned. What I couldn't understand was what had made such a large hole in the ice."
Although Linda would not learn all the facts of what happened until years later, the event that very easily could have ended in tragedy actually did have a happy outcome.
At about noon, Linda's father and his 1947 Ford model 2N tractor had gone through the ice.
"He was two-thirds of the way across when the tractor went in rear-end first," Linda said.
Finding himself in deep, cold water, Frank could see nothing but solid ice as he looked skyward. He was having serious difficulty finding the hole that he and the tractor had fell through.
"Fortunately, there was enough space between the water and the ice for him to get some breathing air," Linda's husband Murray Giddens explained. "Frank tried three times before he finally found the hole. He knew that he had to put his hands behind his back and boost himself up seal-like."
Added Linda: "I never saw my father swim but obviously he must have had some swimming ability. It was a long time later that he told me that it was late for ice to be on the pond. In the morning when he tested the ice, it was safe. When he returned around noon he did notice that the ice had a gleam to it that wasn't natural."
Getting the tractor out of Little Dyke Pond attracted quite a crowd. Large pieces of lumber were strategically placed around the hole in the lake. Determined men tried time and time again to fasten a steel hook to the tractor deep down in the water.
Harold Lewis, of 'Harold Lewis Repairs and 24-Hour Towing,' took part in the operation.
"I remember that there was quite a bit of excitement," Lewis said. "Gosh, it's hard to believe but it was almost 45 years ago. Although it's hard to remember many details after such a long time we did get the tractor out and everyone at the scene was really
happy."
Linda also shared.
"I thought the tractor was a goner and I didn't expect to ever see it again. But the next day when my sisters Francis and Ann and I got home around 5 o'clock after attending a 4-H workshop in Onslow, the tractor was sitting in front of the house. It was now looking forest green instead of customary gray. There was algae and muck hanging from every part
possible."
After being laid up for less than a year, the 1947 Ford tractor returned to farm duty.
"Then, in 1999, we restored the tractor and got it looking pretty good," said Murray, a longtime mixed farmer.
"We use it a fair amount around the farm. It works great."
"The tractor is like family. It's been here since 1949," Linda noted. "There are times that I can still visualize my father driving the tractor during planting and harvesting. To me, it's the little tractor that could."
Looking out the window from Murray and Linda's cozy kitchen offers a clear view of Little Dyke Pond. Located less then 50 feet from the house, the piece of water which is less than one quarter mile across, played a big part in the story the Giddens told me.
Linda, who taught school for 30 plus years, is the seventh generation (Smith) to live on the 300-plus acre Little Dyke farmland. It is located at the intersection of Little Dyke Road and Donkin Road.

Lyle Carter is a freelance columnist and Brookfield resident

Geographic location: Little Dyke Pond, Colchester County, Bass River Onslow Little Dyke Road Donkin Road Brookfield

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