Almquist enjoys time with tractors, sharing music
A love of tractors has proved to be beneficial in a way that really works for Dan Almquist.
Being raised in north Minneapolis, it was off to the suburbs in later years for his family, as he eventually graduated from Robbinsdale High School in 1959.
Let’s take you along his path to the time when the tractors came into the picture.
While his family made their home in the metro area, his father would work as a “part-time” minister, traveling to the Brainerd area on the weekends.
That led to a strong connection to the Bible Camp known as Camp Jim, thanks to the involvement of his parents Ernest and Lucille.
In the meantime, Almquist had opted to attend the Northwest TV & Electronics school in Minneapolis, seeking a course in electronics, following high school.
Hoping to spark an interest in that line of work was put to rest, as instead he opted for a career in truck driving.
Hauling everything what he termed from “chickens to liquor to hardware,”
Almquist settled into a career that spanned 28 years with United Van Bus.
Over his last 15 years with UVB, Almquist ended up hauling “nothing but cardboard.”
He extended his time behind the wheel two more years, this time wheeling for Wintz Trucking, as UVB had gone out of business.
Working as a member of the Teamster Union, the rule at that time called for 30 years and out, allowing him the opportunity to retire at the early age of 51.
All along he estimated, along with his wife Bobbie, the couple spent 27 of those 30 years at their farm home just outside of Milaca.
Still making Milaca home, it was there the couple raised three children.
Almquist noted he had followed his brother Tim, also a trucker, to the farmland and the same place he and Bobbie continue to call home.
Once he had a little idle time on his hands Almquist opted for a lifestyle where he would be “just helping people out here and there.”
There were periods he would help relatives, working for two months or so at a time “fixing houses,” along with other projects.
Almquist added, “we did a couple little jobs, but we didn’t look for them, they found me.”
BACK TO CAMP
That early influence of Camp Jim now allowed him more time to help during the summer months.
Almquist pointed out that he helped out a lot at Camp Jim as for “eight years I was involved in real heavy volunteer work.”
His time during the camping season would find him running from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., dealing with a number of issues.
While Almquist spent time with woodworking for a hobby, he had plenty of time and his love of tractors opened a new outlet.
Having always been around tractors for some 30 years, those were “what we needed for work.”
Almquist credits a conversation with Virgil Minks, who recalled his early involvement using the Farmall B tractors.
After that discussion the thought of “that might be what I want to buy,” led to his stable of red Farmall tractors.
At first, “I decided to buy one, just for the fun of it.”
That first purchase was in 2013 when Almquist got his hands on a 1947 Farmall B model.
The unique thing about the B is “you sit off to the side,” according to Almquist.
He pointed out this type was made for cultivating, as being off to one side you were able to “see what you are doing.”
His first purchase proved to be in “pretty decent shape, however the clutch was stuck.”
Outfitted with a lawnmower, this proved to be beneficial to this day.
Making a trek to Bemidji to pick up his prize purchase, Almquist spent time cleaning and painting before putting to practical use.
If one tractor was good, eventually a second would be even much better.
Making another find in Bemidji, Almquist purchased his second Farmall B.
Almquist simply explained, “the reason I wanted a second was it was fun to rake hay” but with the lawnmower in place that proved to be a problem.
The second tractor allowed him to do the raking, along with added work around the farm.
This 1940 model required “some basic clean-up and paint,” making it a great addition.
WHY NOT THREE?
If you have two, you might as well have three.
That led to the purchase of yet another Farmall, a 1946, with this one being made up of parts from an A and B model.
The front end on this one comes from an A, while the rear is made up from a B model.
“You can simply unbolt and bolt the two together,” Almquist said.
Almquist considers this prize to be “mainly a show piece.”
Recently he rode the parade route in Milaca, while he has plans to take a ride in “other area parades” this summer.
Almquist admits he “just enjoys doing it,” in reference to his collection of tractors.
Along the way he ran into another friend who liked Farmall Cubs and they became friends as a result.
Talking tractors is something he likes to do every Tuesday as five gentlemen get together to do just that.
Almquist indicated a couple of them own John Deere, while two have Farmall, with another retired farmer in the discussion.
Now, at the age of 74, Almquist hints, “I get pretty lazy now I think.”
But he always manages to be busy helping friends and spending time with precious grandchildren.
He also takes time out for “the enjoyment of using and riding tractors,” using the one to mow grass.
TIME FOR MUSIC
While he gives a lot of time to his tractors and loves to hear them run, he also has an ear for music, something he loves to share.
While growing up his mother Lucille knew how to play the guitar and accordion.
“She taught me what she knew and I played the guitar,” Almquist said.
“We went to the Salvation Army Church for a time when I was in junior high and they always had a string band.”
During his time behind the wheel of his truck the long hours saw the guitar fall by the wayside.
“I still had the guitar, but no strings,” Almquist said.
However, once retired and back at Camp Jim, he fell back into his music.
He also fell into love with the mandolin, while he “loved to play the harmonica and bass guitar.”
Any idle time he might have these days finds him playing along with his friends, performing for the good of many.
Instrumental in the founding of a group known as This Side of Heaven, back in 2008, this group of 13 area musicians performs at the Milaca Alliance Church the first Sunday of every month.
During the summer they begin at 6 p.m., while 3 p.m. is starting time during the other months for this Gospel singalong that is open to the public.
Another group, known as Stony Brook got started in 2007, with nine of the previous 13 musicians taking part in area outings.
Glory Bound, a group formed in 2014, performs at Elim Home and this is made up of five of the nine playing in Stony Brook.
Then there is Gary (Eggen) and Friends, a group of different musicians formed in 2010, who along with Almquist perform at Country Meadows, sharing music with residents.
While he loves to share and learn more about tractors, he looks at music as a “ministry.”
At the same time Almquist sends out thanks to the “wonderful” talented musicians that volunteer of their time to share music.