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Granddad and the Tractor

tractor salesman(STORY AS RELATED TO ME BY Clarence Johnston of Collinsville, Ok)

CLARENCE SAID, “Us boys all came back from the war in 1946 with money in our pockets.  Most of us around here had plowed behind a horse growing up, and these new smaller Fordson tractors were just the right size for a small farm. Supplies were tight and there was a waiting list, so most of us went around to two or three dealers placing orders, just figuring we would take the first one to come in.

About three months later, I got a call from one of the dealers I had ordered from. The dealer said ‘Clarence, your tractor came in but there was this guy traveling around from Iowa (pronounced  I OH WAY) and offered me double the money, so since I’m a businessman, as you know, I just had to take him up on his offer.’  I didn’t think much about it, but soon got a call from another dealer, ‘Clarence, your tractor came in but there’s this guy from I OH WAY offering me double the price. Since you ordered first, I’ll give you first shot but you’ll have to pay the double price.’  ‘No way’, I said, now getting pretty perturbed about the whole deal.

After another couple of days, I was out in the hot sun plowing behind the horse when I saw George Melton walking across the field toward me. He looked just like always, with his khakis, white shirt and tie, and mudboots laced up to the knee.  “Your tractor’s in,” George said.

I went off on him, saying,  ‘Dammit, George, I’m sick of the way you guys operate and I’m not about to pay double for the tractor!’

‘Who said anything about paying more?’ George said.  ‘The price is just what we agreed.’

‘But George, haven’t you seen the man from I OH WAY?,’ I asked.  ‘Sure did,’ says George.

‘Well, what did you tell him?’

George said, ”’I told him the tractor was already sold to Clarence.’


Editor’s note: This situation occurred in 1946, which was the first year Melton Sales  {then called  Geo. Melton and Sons) was in business. It was a startup business and cash would have been very tight. The price of the Fordson tractor (about $675) would be equivalent to $10,000 dollars in today’s money, pure profit given up.

Neither of the two other tractor dealers that made the extra $10,000 are still in business.

Talking integrity is one thing. Living it is something else again.

-Robby Melton
rob melton

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