Note: This feature is in the November TF 2021 issue.
Mark Parker, of Burlington, Ky., has his priorities just about right. "I'm a kid at heart," he said. "I show full-size restored farm tractors, have a huge collection of scale model tractors and farm memorabilia, and since 1996, I have a Fountain 35 Lightning hotrod speedboat that goes almost 100 miles an hour, and it is a real rush to hear it roar as it zooms down a lake. The truck is, I've never really grown up."
Like many model farm toy collectors, Mark grew up on a farm. "Mom and Dad - Gloria and Carl Parker - purchased 72 acres in 1962, when I was about 4 years old," he said. "Dad grew tabacco, hay and some corn, and Dad's tractor of choice was a Massey Ferguson 165."
Moving to the farm near Walton, Ky., was a big adventure for a little boy. Mark's earliest childhood memory is of carrying feed buckets. "I was just 4 years old, but I clearly remember carrying feed buckets into the barn and dumping feed into a trough for one of our Hereford cows. When someone says they have worked all their life because they went to work at 18 or 19, I kind of laugh, and then I think about growing up on a working farm where I started working at age 4. Like all the farmers I knew, I have truly worked all of my life," he said.