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Dakota Datebook

International Harvester Red Babies

Farmers went through a number of hardships, following World War I, that affected their livelihood; "adverse crop conditions" and plummeting prices did not help the situation. Their struggles caused repercussions in other industries—such as affecting the sales of farming machinery.

Henry Ford, to continue selling equipment, dropped the price of his tractors by $230, from $625 to $395, making the machines more affordable for struggling farmers. In response to this, the International Harvester Company also cut prices and added a deal: they reduced the price of two-plow tractors by $230, the price on three-plow tractors by $200, and offered a free two- or three-furrow plow for any purchased item.

Also, the International Harvester Company started selling "Red Baby" Speed trucks to their local supply dealers. These “Red Babies” were “specially equipped international Speed Truck now being used for Sales
and Service purposes by thousands of enterprising McCormick-Deering dealers through the United States and Canada. These trucks are all painted in a uniform brilliant red with the dealer's name and other wording in gold lettering, making a beautiful and distinct color combination."

International Harvester Company held multiple meetings for their dealers throughout North Dakota in April 1922. At each event, a fleet of these Red Babies were paraded through their host towns in a flashy red stream. The "Red Baby Twins," a 250 pound truck and a 30 pound truck, also went city to city as advertisement. Dealers were able to purchase these Red Babies and take them back to their home communities, where they could use the slick trucks to service equipment in their area.

One of these dealers’ meetings, complete with parade, was held on this date in 1922 in Grand Forks. Shortly before that, they’d held one in Fargo—and it was at this meeting that Nels H. Lunding, of Hope, bought a Red Baby. The local newspaper reported on the new addition to his community in glowing terms: "No evening sun was ever half as red--no barn ever grinned with astonishment at the world with anything like as red a coat of paint. ...It has come to stay and to serve the people of this community."

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:
Bismarck Tribune, April 22, 1922, p8
The Bismarck Tribune, February 11, 1922, p8
The Hope Pioneer, April 27, 1922, p1
The Grand Forks Herald, April 27, 1922, p11

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