To this day, I can’t tell you if I did this on purpose or it was an accident.

I do know what I was supposed to be doing – discing a 50-acre field on the McNary Farm (now owned by Mr. Fred Martin). I was driving our 1948 Case Model DC tractor and pulling our old disc.

This was the first tractor we had ever bought with an electric starter. We bought it in 1963. It was new enough to have a starter, but did not have hydraulics or a three-point hitch.

Instead, it had a funny little crank arm that came out of the back of the differential, on the left side under the driver’s seat. Opposite this little arm, on the right-hand side, was a cast iron pedal. If you mashed down on this pedal once, the silly little crank arm made one rotation.

Apparently, Case made some tools that worked with this arm and used it for raising and lowering them. I have never seen any such implements. All was well and good, as long as there were no obstructions in the way of the crank arm.

However, we had gotten into the habit of dropping a crescent wrench in beside the crank arm – it was held nicely by the crank arm and some other parts of the tractor that were in close proximity.

On the afternoon in question – a Saturday afternoon, as I remember – going across the field, I mashed down on the pedal with my right foot. (Boredom? Curiosity? Accidental?)

I told you I can’t remember. I do remember the result. With the crescent wrench in place, the tractor committed suicide right on the spot. The entire rear housing broke free in several parts, spilling oil and exposing the entire rear end gearing. All from the force of the crank arm encountering an obstruction.

Dad and my brother were working in a field across McNary Road. I walked over there to report my tractor’s condition – not without a lot of trepidation, I might add. Dad took it calmly. My discing was done for the day, but he didn’t seem too concerned.

The next morning was Sunday, and we could always be found at Marshall United Methodist Church. Dad, unbeknownst to me, knew that Pat Smith had a Case DC that he was using for parts. Dad asked Pat about the housing we needed. Pat was happy to give it to him and on Monday, the needed part was salvaged and our tractor repaired.

When Dad got the tractor back together, he took the cutting torch and cut the funny little arm off so that it would never be a problem again.

This, however, was not the end of my problems with the crescent wrench. Later that summer, I was running the hay conditioner at the Beaver Farm. I don’t remember what tractor I was pulling it with, but likely it was the John Deere Model 40.

Somehow, the crescent wrench got away from me again and went through the conditioner rollers. In this case, there was a shear pin to protect the equipment, and the shear pin did its job.

Henceforth, I have treated crescent wrenches – these silent little killers – with the respect they deserve!

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press.