SPRINGWATER — E.E. Cummings once said, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world, which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
Wayland-Cohocton Central student Pearl Walker, 11, of Springwater fights the good fight every time she takes to the field on her antique Massey Harris tractor. The words “No Grit No Pearl” defines her approach to the art that has thrilled four generations of her family.
Treva Walker, Pearl’s mother, said her daughter is a force to be reckoned with.
“Pearl will tell you her two sports are tractor pulling and drama,” she said. “She is a colorful and well rounded young lady. I believe tractor pulling has improved her self confidence, and has her better prepared to step into the arena with anyone in life.”
Pearl’s great-grandfather Jim Stevenson (passed away in 2012) started the tradition, Don Walker, Pearl’s grandfather and Doug Walker, Pearl’s father are still a big part of the tractor pulling arena. Orion, 8, Pearl’s brother, can not wait until he can start pulling at age 10. This family has enjoyed the art in the Genesee Valley Antique Tractor Club for many years.
Pearl took home three first place prizes in Rushford recently, and enjoys competing against adults as well as other children.
“Her father and grandfather are into tractor pulling, and she wanted to do it too,” Treva Walker said. “She really loves it.”
Don Walker said his granddaughter is a sweetheart and he is very proud of her.
“Her father walks along with her to work the kill switch in case anything happens,” he said. “Safety is our number one concern.”
Pearl has pulled in all four classes this year; as this is her second year pulling.
“These are low key antique tractors,” Don Walker said. “You fix them up, and want to show them off. You attempt to get the next generation interested.”
Don and Doug Walker started a father/son tractor pull in the early 1990s.
“We all go together to these tractor pulls, and it is such a nice family environment,” Don Walker said. “Pearl had to practice a couple of weeks in the field before she could start tractor pulling. She handles it very well. She has done an excellent job.”
Don Walker said that as a father and grandfather it means a lot to him to see his son out there with Pearl on the field.
“Seeing my son and granddaughter out there is as good as it gets,” he said. “Pearl goes up against a lot of experienced adults. They are all very good with her.”
The last tractor pull of the season is Sept. 17 in Wellsville, and Pearl will be there with her family cheering her on.
“I really hope that Pearl keeps doing it,” Don Walker said. “The rest of the tractor pullers are thrilled to see kids doing it. If you get them interested young they will stay interested. All of the old tractor pullers know Pearl by name, and treat her like one of the adults.”
Pearl Walker can take what she learns in tractor pulling and apply it to the rest of her life.
“The nice part of what we do is that we take this old iron and bring new life to it,” Don Walker said. “The Car Show people like to watch what we do too. We are resurrecting these old tractors.”