Tractors, trucks and equipment have played a major role in the career of lifelong York County farmer Marlyn Miller.
Miller, who will turn 90 in June, resides near Hellam Township, Pennsylvania. He farmed all his life, hauled hay, drove a school bus and was a good neighbor to many residents of the area.
Through the years, tractors have been so much of a constant in his life and work that, a number of years ago, Miller organized the first Drive Your Tractor to Church for Fathers’ Day at the nearby Fairmont Church.
“He’s always friendly, just a genuine, honest person,” said his long-time friend Justin Hammers.
Hammers recalled that last fall, Miller, known to most locals as “Muggs,” suffered a stroke. After a period of recuperation, he was able to return home and continued to improve. More recently, though, Miller contracted a nasty cold that developed into pneumonia and left the veteran farmer with many days of feeling poorly.
“I tried to think of what would put a smile on his face,” said Hammers, who with his wife, Carol, owns and operates Northridge Repairs. Their business focuses on repairs and maintenance of tractors, farm and some construction equipment for many customers around the area.
As he was chatting with another friend, Eric Kostenbauder, an idea came up.
“What about a tractor parade?” said Kostenbauder.
Community Answers Call for Tractors
And so, Hammers and his wife Carol, put up social media postings on their Facebook pages, inviting local farmers to drive by Miller’s home on the afternoon of Sunday, March 21, hoping to bring a little happiness into the day for their ailing friend.
“Many of our customers know Muggs. I expected maybe a half-dozen or so tractors to show up,” Hammers said. “Then we started getting all sorts of responses. It blew me away.”
In fact, the responses to take part in the tractor drive-by was so overwhelming that Hammers knew he needed to alert the local police and fire companies, possibly to assist with potential traffic issues.
Even the weather cooperated on that second day of spring, turning so warm and sunny that Miller was able to sit with family and friends outside his home. There he spent the afternoon, his ever-present canine companion Dotty by his side, waving to a flood of supporters who formed a traffic-stopping parade.
“We had 63 tractors and three trucks. One of the trucks, in salute to all the hay hauling Muggs had done, was loaded with hay. The operators were going to take a load of hay to auction the next day, so they loaded it up early to take part in the parade,” Hammers said.
Hammers was familiar with Miller’s own pride-and-joy tractor, a Co-op model, made about 1949, that he had lovingly kept over the years. Parade organizers were able to get the classic Co-op running, and it was driven by another friend of Miller’s, also named Miller, in the honored first spot in the drive-by tractor parade.
“It was a very emotional day for many of us,” said Hammers. “I talked with his son later on and he said his dad was just thrilled about the tractor parade.”