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Toy Story: Greenfield man shows off tractor collection

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, shows of his collection of toy tractors and farm sets on a recent Tuesday afternoon.  Courtesy photo—

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, shows of his collection of toy tractors and farm sets on a recent Tuesday afternoon.  Courtesy photo—

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, shows of his collection of toy tractors and farm sets on a recent Tuesday afternoon.  Courtesy photo—

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, shows off a Ford tractor that his parents’ bought him in 1968 or 1969 when he was a kid. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, Ford toy tractor that his parents’ bought him in 1968 or 1969 when he was a kid. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, shows a piece of an old toy tractor. The piece is one of about 1,000 that Cornwell has collected over the years. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • A replica of Lenny Cornwell’s childhood barn that is part of an extensive collection he has in his garage at his current home in Greenfield. (Abby Kessler/ Monadnock Ledger-Transcript)  Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • A picture of the farmhouse Lenny Cornwell grew up in located off of Slip Road in Greenfield.  Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • A small tractor and a replica of a hay baler is part of an extensive collection that Lenny Cornwell, of Greenfield, has collected over nearly 30 years. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lenny Cornwell pulled out a blue Ford toy tractor from a room in his home on a recent Tuesday, the old machine’s paint is worn off in certain areas, a headlight broken, and the steering wheel snapped off.

“You can see it has had a hard life through me and my nieces and nephews,” Cornwell said looking at the tractor.

Cornwell’s parents’ bought him the tractor in 1968 or 1969 when he was a kid. The toy is now one of more than 1,000 that he has collected over the last 30 years.

The majority of Cornwell’s collection is kept in a detached garage on his piece of property in Greenfield. Inside the garage, there are two big tractors — a red one and a blue one. Behind one of the tractors, there are a number of bales of hay that let off a tangy, earthy smell. The garage’s downstairs walls are lined with toy tractors, many still in their original boxes and some that look similar to the real machines he has in the unit. The little toys line the edge of a wooden staircase, which eventually opens up to a loft-style room covered with tiny farm-style setups.

“The whole area up here I call Wisconsin,” Cornwell said climbing one of the last stairs.

The upstairs floor is covered in small farm setups each one with a barn and little animals scattered nearby. Cornwell has built display cases, tables, and shelving units that offer additional space to place the models. 

One is modeled after the farm Cornwell and his family grew up in off of Slip Road. The small model is made out of is wood from the barn of Cornwell’s childhood home. The little barn has big red letters painted on the roof reading “HI” just like on the barn of his childhood home.

“Airplanes would go over and tip their wings when they saw the roof,” Cornwell said of the real barn. 

Another setup is a play barn that he’s had since he was a kid. He found another — one that he’s wanted since he was a kid —advertised in a magazine.

“We couldn't afford one ’cause they were expensive at the time,” he said of one of the barns. “They were like $13 or $14 dollars back in the ’60s, which was quite a bit of money.”

The guy who advertised the set in the magazine warned Cornwell that the setup was going to be expensive, but he didn’t care.

“I said, ‘I don’t care, I’ve wanted one since I was a little kid,’” Cornwell said. “So that’s what I did.”

Cornwell said he has no real explanation why he enjoys collecting farm toys so much. He likes building and adding onto the small toys more than working on the real things because there’s less risk of injury. He also likes preserving history.

“I can’t really say how I got into it,” he said. “... Preserving the past I guess. It’s quite a different world. Not too many people are interested in preserving, they can pull things up on their little iPhone or whatever and say, ‘Oh, yeah. Look at this.’ And, ‘boring, let’s move onto the next thing.’”

He said there are some people who are interested in history, but he does wonder who is going to keep the past alive.

“It makes you wonder who is going to carry on,” Cornwell said.

His wife, Pam has a collection of Santas as well, although she said the accumulation isn’t worthy. 

She said she doesn’t interfere too much with her husband’s tractors. 

“I appreciate it,” Pam said of her husband’s collection. “But that’s his thing.” 

But a big reason Cornwell collects the items is for his own enjoyment.

He spends countless hours, too many to estimate, making his own toys, adding on to others, buying new ones, and setting up the little scenes. 

Cornwell said he and his wife have a trip planned to Pennsylvania in the near future. There’s a big farm toy store there and when he goes in he says he’ll be like “a kid in a candy store.” 

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.