10 Country: Wannell's Tractor Reunion - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Wannell's Tractor Reunion

September 15, 2005

Omega, GA -- People get quite attached to things-- a special car, a camera, a piece of furniture-- most anything. But have you ever heard of someone getting emotionally attached to a farm tractor?

Well, it has happened.

A lady had a coming-out party of sorts where thousands of people saw her pride and joy. A family's heirloom needs fixing up and cleaning up occasionally.

"This tractor came to this farm new in 1956," says Marty Powell, as he washes a Case 300 farm tractor in the shade of a pecan tree.

He stopped digging peanuts long enough to make sure it looked its best. The tractor, a Case 300, became as close to a family member as a tractor can get, and over time it aged as gracefully as it could. "Parts hard to find. Some had to be made," says Marty, as he remembers restoring the cream colored tractor that pulled harrows that came with it originally.

Marty decided the old tractor, almost a half-century old, would become almost new again if a friend and he devoted enough time and money. "I'd say probably a couple of hundred hours and probably two or three thousand dollars," says Marty, when asked what he had invested in it.

It wouldn't matter how much since the labor of love was for a special person. He wanted his mother's dream to come true-- to drive the old tractor again. "I want the people to see it and see what my baby can do," says Wannell Powell, Marty's mother, with a hearty laugh.

If you are proud of something, you show others, and Wannell's pride was had to miss. She was so proud of the rebuilt tractor that she decided to have a coming out part of sorts, driving it in a parade.

Wannell was one of a hundred and five entries in the Pepper Festival Parade that traveled a route less than a mile long, and where she could easily rate as the proudest entrant of them all. "It brought us through the hard times," says Wannell as she drove the tractor, smiled and waved to thousands of people who lined the town's streets.

The tractor did more than pull its weight back in the 50s. "Heeeey," says Wannell, as she recognizes a family member in the crowd, while feeling a touch sentimental.

The Case 300 pulled the family through tough financial times as they feared they could lose everything. The cream colored tractor stood out from the other tractors in the parade, and it caught the eye of Thornesia Mathis, "I like it. I've never seen one like that."

Many of the Case 300 tractors have long since gone, except Wannell's, and today thousands of people would see her pride and joy roll again. "I'm having fun," says Wannell, as she gently turns the tractor down Cedar street, acting more like a beauty queen, "I am," says Wannell, than a tractor driver.

"I think it's great," says Karla Bryan as she watched Wannell slowly drive by.

The proud tractor driver waved almost as much as her flags in the gentle wind, sometimes concentrating on her waving more than her driving. "Now, this is a narrow road. I've got to get back out," says Wannell.

She realized that she had drifted too far to the right side of the street, noticeably out of line with the tractor in front.

The mid-course correction paled in comparison to having her tractor back. "It's my favorite," says Wannell and you could easily see that with her bright smile under a new Case-IH hat the company had given her just for the parade.

To many people, Wannell's had an old tractor, but to her, she had a prized family possession that needed showing off to anyone who wanted to look her way.

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