S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Automotive Page keywords = tractor Tommy Malloy auto history motor International Harvester Farmall Cub Allis Chalmers Ford Fordson John Deere New Holland Caterpillar Cat Case Avery LeTourneau Track Runner Rumely Oil-Pull Thorneycroft agricultur row crop industr track crawler auto car truck tank bull dozer gas oil steam Long Island engine Rough Tumble Aberdeen Proving Ground Alexander Botts Earthworm Saturday Evening Post

Updated:   19 Mar 2018,  18:00  ET
[Page created 07 Mar 2006; converted 01 May 2013;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/tractor1.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/tractor1.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Tractor Continuation Page 1

TRACTORS (Continued)

This site does NOT cover "Truck-Tractors",
the "Big Rigs" that pull highway trailers.

It DOES cover "Farm Tractors", "Industrial Tractors", and "Garden Tractors".

It is primarily an extension page for :
Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Company.

Some tractor links (WWWeb links, NOT track links, stupid!)
are furnished on the main page but are not at all exhaustive.

There is also a lot of automotive material on my Automotive, ORDNANCE, and HISTORY pages.

If you like REALLY BIG road tractors, see my Road Loads page.

Also, if you like automotive history, see the links on the Dudgeon page.

Now, THIS is what I mean by a TRACTOR,

and specifically a "CAT":

ca.-'39 Cat 40
[from the National Archives and Records Administration collection
{Thumbnail image - click on the picture for an even larger 500Kb image.}]

This is "classic" tractor at it's best; it just doesn't get any better!  It is apparently a photo of the obverse of a ca.-1939 Caterpillar sales brochure.  It is NOT a BULLDOZER; it does not have a bulldozer blade attached.


On the main TRACTORS page:
  TANKS - The first military tanks.
  Tommy Malloy - tractor maven extraordinaire.
  International Harvester FARMALL CUB.
  John Deere.
  Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Company - moved here (below) 07 Mar 2006.
  Copar Panzer.
  Track Links (Links and such for Old Tractors.
including the Long Island Antique Power Association (LIAPA).

On this TRACTORS Continuation Page 1:
  Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Company - moved here 07 Mar 2006.

Alexander Botts and the
Earthworm Tractor Co.

(moved here from the main page on 07 Mar 2006)

O.K., who remembers that great series in the '40s Saturday Evening Post about Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Co.?

That was a take-off (pardon the pun) on Caterpillar; which was originally the Holt Manufacturing Company (Oliver was originally Hart-Parr, etc.).

Well, a gentleman in Oregon sure did remember and sent me a message which I'm quoting here so you'll know what I'm talking about: "Botts was an Earthworm tractor salesman who was chronically in trouble with his boss.  He had an archrival salesman competitor in a competing tractor company.  The competitor was unscrupulous compared to Botts, who was merely devious.  Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Company always prevailed in the end."

I then asked who remembers the names of the competitor and its salesman (Alexander Botts' archrival)?  No fair looking it up!  No one responded.

This goes on - a Caterpillar salesman of 11 years standing, who had been a rep for 12 years for a competitor, in Baltimore, Maryland, says that he saw Joe E. Brown (he of the big mouth, of all actors) starring in "Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Company" in 1978 at a sales school.  He can't remember much detail about the movie, but he does remember laughing a lot and would like to find a copy of the movie to purchase on video or DVD (as would I).  We now (17 Oct 2000) know where to get one (see below).  He has a framed picture in his office of Joe E. Brown and his co-star sitting on the operators platform of a tractor on which is painted "Earthworm Diesel".  Who remembers the name of his co-star?  If you told us the answer to these trivia questions, he was going to give you the answer to the above question and also send you a JPEG image of the two of them.

This gets better and better!  A lady e-mailed 17 Oct 2000 to say she just bought a tape of the movie from Nostalgia Family Video; for the actual page, click here.  The actual name of the movie is "Earthworm Tractors".  Well, FIX!  FIX!  I won!  I looked up the movie on the Net, and the co-star was none other than June Travis and so here are some of the images:

Earthworm Tractors Botts (Brown/Travis - reduced) Brown is Botts Earthworm

[A STEERING wheel?]

Earthworm was located in Earthworm City (based on Peoria), Illinois and the series, started in 1927, was written by Willam Hazlett Upson, who had been a Holt parts and service person for over 5 years.  The series topped 100 stories, all in the SEP (I well remember waiting eagerly for the next episode).  The movie premièred (not bombed) in Peoria and was commemorated in a Cat magazine recently{?}.

That sure looks like George Healey, NOT Botts in the right-hand picture!

Hey, wait a minute!  Who were the competitor and its salesman?  Well, I got the video tape from Nostalgia Family Video and it's a real hum-dinger, a doozy, a laugh riot, and other old trite phrases.  In other words, it's dated and corny and I loved every minute of it, especially the inept Alexander's Earthworm escapades!  Diligent use of the PAUSE button elicited these credits:

Alexander Botts - Joe E. Brown (our hero),
Mabel Johnson - June Travis (our heroine),
Sam Johnson (her father and obstinate tractor non-buyer) - Guy Kibbee,
Sally Blair (Botts' first love) - Carol Hughes,
Emmit McManus (Botts' rival for Sally) - Dick Foran,
George Healey (Bott's' nemesis) - Gene Lockhart (father of actress June),

Now, it was George Healey who turned coat on Earthworm (after Botts got both of them fired) and joined the Elephant Tractor Company and tried every trick in the books to sell the exceedingly-obstinate Mr. Johnson and undermine Botts.

Funny thing, though.  I could NOT find a scene with Botts and Mabel sitting on the tractor; it must have been a publicity shot rather than a still.  I took a photo of the video tape case's lobby poster cover and have posted it here [what else should one do with a poster?]:

Wait!  We're not done with this!  A lady in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, asked me 21 Jan 2001 if I knew where to find a hard-cover Saturday Evening Post compilation of the Botts/Earthworm stories!  I either did not even know it existed or forgot, but turned it up instantly on amazon.com, "Alexander Botts : Great Stories from the Saturday Evening Post", by William Hazlett Upson {naturally}, January 1978, ISBN: 0893870110, $24.95 (as of 21 Jan 01).

Yet more (29 Mar 01) - eBay auction ended for Presentation Edition of "No Rest for Botts, Earthworms Make the World Go Round" by William Hazlett Upson, Rinehart & Co, 1951.  "William Hazlett Upson was born in 1891, he worked for Caterpillar Tractor Company as a service mechanic and trouble-shooter.  He began writing short stories in 1923, and in 1927 created the character of Alexander Botts, caterpillar tractor salesman".  Highest bid of $62 did not make reserve.

One Clem Dickey notes (25 Nov 01) that bibliofind.com usually has several Alexander Botts books available, suggesting that it's best to search by author, and that bibliofind.com is now owned by amazon.com.  Clem looked up the competitor in the book; it was Behemoth, not Elephant.  He also very kindly sent along this list of the books (and dates) of which he is aware:

Botts Bibliography {Amazing Alliteration}

 Alexander Botts: Earthworm Tractors
1931  Earthworms in Europe
1943  Keep 'em Crawling: Earthworms at War
1944  Botts in War; Botts in Peace
 Earthworms Through the Ages
1949  Hello, Mr. Henderson
 No Rest for Botts
 The Best of Botts
1963  Original Letters of Alexander Botts
1978  Alexander Botts: Great Stories from the Saturday Evening Post
2001  The Fabulous Saga of Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor Company

On 10 Jan 2003, I heard from Evan Jones, who only remembers "two of the competitors of Earthworm Tractor, but I remember them well (from 30 years ago):"

"Rough Rider (Center of gravity too high, underpowered, no winch)
Cheat: They had to get over a mountain.  There was a RR tractor hidden on the other side that the driver switched to after secretly dismounting, climbing on foot, and switching to the other vehicle."

"Goliath (Awful, incredibly noisy smoke-belching monstrosity, inferior in every way)
Cheat: They had stolen an Earthworm Tractor an hidden it inside the building they were supposed to push around.  When the Goliath pushed up against the building, the EW tractor was started and it 'carried the building around on its back" making it look as if the Goliath was doing the work'."

Evan's "very favorite concerned the Normandy invasion and the Liberation of a 100 year-old barrel of Calvados . . . (Oh, yes, he also leveled an airstrip for the use of Allied planes.)"

Thanks for sharing, Evan!

Now (19 Jul 2003) comes one Robert Bonomi, who confirms that there "were a lot of companies sales representatives that Mr Botts tangled with", including, at least: Goliath, Superba, and Rough Rider, most of which "were 'weak puns' of real equipment manufacturers", Caterpillar --> Earthworm, Massey --> Goliath, and thinks "Elephant" was used, a take-off from 'Deere'", and has "a vague recollection of a story involving 'World WideTractor Company', which would be an obvious 'derivative' of International".

Our Oregonian friend asks if anyone remembers the phrase:

"We plow deep while others sleep"

He wonders if this wasn't an Earthworm Tractor / Alexander Botts phrase - or has his memory of SEP stories gone to the big information dump in the sky?  He's seen it associated with Allis but it seems a little frivolous for them. Well, I sure don't recall it but quipped that Allis's sister was the Powerful Katrinka (now, who remembers her?)!

He used to get a "Post Yarns" on the ship.  "Grandpa Hopewell and His Flying Tractor" was in one of the stories.  Anyone?

My bro'-in-law sent me this pic of his little grandson (my great-nephew) Zach riding on, and dwarfing, a tiny toy pedal tractor:   new (12 Jun 2013)

(Ca. 22 May 2013 by b-in-law - all rights reserved)

Ceptin' it's a full-sized Massey-Ferguson 65!  That kid is SCAAAARY!  If the Massey won't grade the roads around my sister's place on the Arizona high desert, Zach can just stamp 'em flat!  Where's his blue ox?

Now, HERE's a truly SHORT-Wheelbase tractor:   new (19 Mar 2018)


THAT's really short!

There is an incredible simulation program by Charlie Dockstadter on steam valve gear available on the Alaska Live Steamers VALVE GEAR ON THE COMPUTER page.

More on tractors and such to follow.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

Please visit the main Automotive Page, et seq.

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