Lyle McKeever’s Chevy was fresh off the line when he bought it in 1952. He’d recently returned home to Montana (following a stint in the Air Force), and all that stood between him and his dream of farming was the acquisition of a pickup truck. For $3,200 the brand new ’52 Chevy was his.
“This grain truck has been on the farm ever since,” says Lyle. “It’s part of the family.”
Other farming implements—including a 1958 Massey-Harris combine—joined the McKeever family, allowing generations to cultivate the land. At 90 years old, Lyle still farms in Chouteau County to this day. And though his ’52 Chevy and ’58 Massey-Harris look pretty old-fashioned sitting on the property alongside equipment of the 21st Century, Lyle says they are anything but obsolete.
By way of illustration: in 2017, Lyle encountered a problem on a field of winter wheat. He had seeded it the fall of the previous year, but there had been problems with the seeder, and two eight-foot sections were missed entirely. Spring wheat was planted along these strips, and when it came time to harvest, Lyle busted out the ’58 MH. Its 16-foot header was perfect for the job, and the ’52 Chevy was right there beside it to catch the grain.
“It was some fun to get the old combine out and use it for a special purpose,” Lyle reflects. “In my time, trucks have become much larger. Field cultivators have grown from sixteen feet to seventy feet, combines from 14-foot to 45-foot headers, 12-foot seeders in the Forties to 70-foot air seeders nowadays, and tractors from thirty horsepower to over 600 horsepower.”
He marvels at the development of farm equipment over the years, but he says that there’s a reason farmers hold on to their older implements—you never know when they might come in handy.