by Katie Navarra
A yellow squeezy toy crudely molded into the shape of a tractor unexpectedly sparked a passion for collecting toy tractors in Clifford Grant a Gasport, Y.Y., native.
"In 1971, my late wife and I purchased that toy for our infant son to chew on," he explained.
Forty-four years late, Clifford still owns that toy and prominently displays it in his museum, Grant's Toy Farm, which contains more than 4,000 toy tractors and farm equipment of all sizes and brands.
"It's an important part of the collection and it is displayed with a sign that says, 'The toy that started it all,'" Clifford chuckled.
In 1972, Clifford purchased his second toy, a 1/16 scale John Deere 5020 as a Christmas present for Tracy, who turned 1 that year. From that day on, Clifford couldn't resist the temptation to buy more toys. To fund his growing collection, he worked overtime shirts at Harrison Radiator, an early manufacturer of radiators that was later bought by General Motors.
Although Clifford says Tracy was the catalyst for his interest in collecting, it's likely that his childhood had something to do with it as well. Raised with seven sisters and one brother, born when Clifford was a young adult, he rarely had new or "boy toys" to play with as a kid.
By the time Clifford had a son of his own, he was ready to make up for lost time.
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