Preserving antique farm equipment
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 16, 2014 | 1046 views | 0 0 comments | 171 171 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ed Torrison was a big, burly and shall we say bushy guy. He also had a very big heart.

Many superlatives were used here last week at a memorial service for Ed, who died Dec. 27, 2013 at age 67. The Patterson native had many friends who miss his booming voice, his sparkle and wit, his never-ending jokes, and his generosity. If he could, he would do anything for those in need. If he couldn’t, he would certainly cheer you up.

Although I’ve known Ed since he graduated from Patterson High in 1963, it is only the last three or four years that I’ve rubbed elbows with him on a regular basis. When I became curator of the Patterson Township Historical Society’s downtown museum, Ed was already the society’s farm equipment curator.

And let’s face it: The founding of the Patterson community over 100 years ago by the family of the same name was linked from Day One with its surrounding farmland. The community and agriculture were inseparable.

A number of years ago, several of us began discussing means of preserving what remains of this area’s antique farm equipment. Several, like Frank Herger, have left us.

But Ed was one who carried forth the dream. Anyone driving by his property on Eucalyptus Avenue can see from the road an amazing display of old tractors and other pieces that were once used on our West Side soil.

Ed’s idea was to acquire property to accommodate the display of his equipment and more. It would become an outdoor museum that would rival any in Northern California.

Ed knew where old equipment was located and knew the owners. He also was fond of giving short tours in his truck of the crawler tractors stored on his property. He could recite from off the top of his head the year of each piece, when and from whom he acquired it, and its condition.

Late last fall, Ed and Larry Buehner, a high school classmate who — like Ed — is very interested in a Patterson farm equipment museum, moved a huge metal harvesting machine here from the Pleasanton area. Ed knew the owners and the harvester had been in their family for nearly 100 years.

The monster of a machine, drawn in its working days by several teams of horses or mules, had been stored inside and out of the weather for some 70 years. It’s in good shape and the only one of its kind in this area. The harvester is now being stored in a building on the former Patterson Frozen Foods property.

It was Ed’s dream to get this farm equipment museum project going. It would be a fine tribute to him to see the project through.

However, to make that dream come true, volunteers need to step forward to fill the void left by Ed’s death. It’s a doable project if the many friends of Ed put their shoulders behind it.


I feel sorrow for those Wood Colony residents northwest of the city of Modesto who are battling efforts to eventually annex their property for future development.

Most are German Brethrans, whose families have owned the farmland for generations. They have their homes there and have raised their children there. Their land is agriculturally rich and should be preserved.

Leave ’em alone and develop elsewhere.


Remember when you could head to one of Patterson’s larger businesses and chat with fellow shoppers who you had known for many years or maybe only a few months?

Not now. My scientific survey indicates that 62.8 percent of all shoppers at Wal-Mart and Save Mart are talking on their cell phones at any given time.

All I get is maybe a nod or a weak smile – or nothing.


Remember early in the year when I promised readers an annual report on the amount of solicitation mail I received in 2013? What, you don’t remember?

Regardless, here’s the figures.

No fewer than 71 non-profit organizations of all types sent now fewer than 204 pieces of mail to our address in the past year. The figures amaze me too.

They came from environmental groups, health research, veteran, college, women’s, children’s, and human rights organizations — a seemingly endless number of non-profits. Many of them enclosed gifts which I didn’t want, including mailing labels, note pads, calendars, pens and cards with envelopes. And of course a return envelope for my requested donation.

Topping the list was the American Cancer Society with 18 mailed solicitations. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center added 12 more, and the National Breast Cancer Association still another, giving cancer a score of 31.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research was next with 16, with the Alzheimer’s Association sending an additional three. Then came the U.S. Olympic Committee with no fewer than 15.

Wow! The U.S. Postal Service was strongly supported by these 71 organizations, which must use a sizable chunk of their donations to send out additional mail pieces. Many ended up in the trash unopened, as there was no blood left in that proverbial turnip.


You may remember reading about that 1-cent dividend check I recently received in the mail. It was from John Hancock Investments.

This week, the Hancock people sent me their annual report – all 40 pages of it. Many more John Hancock investors like me and we can speak of that company in the past tense.


Longtime Pattersonite Lucille Kvech, who lived in this community for nearly 78 years, died Jan. 3 and thus comes off our 90-plus list. Her husband George Kvech, a local butcher for many years, preceded her in death.

Their last name is pronounced with a ‘k’ at the end, even listed that way in the phone book. It ranked right up there with the most misspelled names in Patterson.


Don Garcia cornered me in the bank the other day and asked how I come up with all these Fast Talk items.

Here’s how: I just stand around in the bank and wait for guys and gals like Don.


Scanning through an after-Christmas catalog for good buys, I ran across a five-person submersible submarine that can take you down to 656 feet. A bargain at $2,700,000, except that it has one of those danged cell phone systems.


Being from the Bay Area, the SF 49ers aren’t afraid of earthquakes.

So bring it on, Seattle fans.


Confucius was a smart man and has been quoted as uttering many prophetic things. If he didn’t, he should have given this piece of wisdom that arrived the other day by e-mail:

Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

Ron Swift is the editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

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