Henry the Model T
This is a story about a 1927 Model T named "Henry" that had a memorable impact on the lives of people who lived in a small Pennsylvania farming community. A long forgotten snapshot of "Henry" became the focal point from which numerous memories rebound.
The Louis Hauck farm was located about two miles west of Curwensville, PA. The 25 acre farm was adjoined on the north by Ned Spencer's 140 acres, on the east by Clarence Bell's 30 acres, on the west by Amos Thomas' 5 acres, and all these were surrounded by huge acreage of wood lands owned by one land owner. My Uncle Charlie Hauck, his wife Martha, and daughters Donna and Ruth lived at the western edge of our farm.
Half of our farm was woodland and the other half was under cultivation or pasture. The rocky and hilly terrain made cultivation of crops a challenge. A mine shaft was dug into the side hill to provide coal for home use. The 14 inch vein of soft coal was not productive enough for commercial mining. Dad worked at the local brick yard and ran the farm on spare time. He was busy at all times. The family was kept busy tending cows, pigs, chickens and doing the farming chores. All the heavy farming was done with one horse. Pulling weeds, hoeing corn, picking stone off the fields and hauling out manure were chores done with manual labor, and had little reward for a youngster growing up in the mid thirties.
However, the spring of 1941 brought some changes to our farm community. That is when Dad bought a homemade tractor that a local farmer had built from a Model A truck. I remember the first time it was hooked up to the one-horse plow. It just sat there and spun it's wheels. It wasn't heavy enough for that job. Dad was disgusted with it and never tried to use it again. On the other hand, my brother, Dean, sixteen years old at the time, hitched the tractor to the lighter farm implements and easily worked the fields after Dad plowed with the horse. At about the same time, Dad bought a 1937 Plymouth Sedan Delivery. This was the first car we had for pleasure and business trips. Uncle Charlie bought a 1927 Model T and named it Henry at about this time.
Dean figured that if he let me drive the tractor now and then, I would help him pick stones and haul manure. That worked for both of us and I started looking forward to the next chore we could do together. I sat on the tractor between jobs and did dry runs shifting gears, double clutching and feeding gas while slowly releasing the clutch. The last ride I had on the tractor with Dean was one night after dark while he was dragging a plowed field. My job was to sit on the differential to add a little weight for traction. The casing of the worm drive got so hot I had to get off after the first hour. The next week, while Dean was dragging a field for Mr. Beitz, the Model A tractor threw a rod and that ended its career. We had used the tractor from early spring to late fall.
Ned Spencer was the original owner of a 1927 Model T Huckster. My Uncle Charlie bought Ned's Model T and converted it to a small dump truck. During the summer of 1941, Uncle Charlie used the Model T, now named "Henry", to haul dirt from the basement of his house. Henry was backed down a ramp into the basement, loaded by hand, driven to a bank and dumped. One time Uncle Charlie backed up too far and went 300 feet down the hill backwards. That must have been an exciting ride. By the end of that summer, the basement was dug out and "Henry" was for sale. It just happened that when our home made tractor threw a rod, Uncle Charlie was ready to sell his Model T. Dean worked out a deal with Uncle Charlie to buy the Model T. It cost him $15.00 along with cutting down a few pine trees. We had Henry just in time to help with the fall projects like hauling manure and firewood.