Behm-Easterlund Grand Opening newspaper announcement.

1951 Behm-Easterlund John Deere Dealership Grand Opening

On August 18, 1951, the Behm-Easterlund John Deere Dealership opened a new building at 817 North Main Street in Le Sueur, Minnesota. Marvin Behm and Allen Easterlund had purchased the dealership in 1950, previously located in a old hardware store at 112 North Main. These are Allen's photos of the grand opening celebration and show what a new tractor dealership would have looked like in the early 1950s.

Allen was my grandfather, and I spent much of my childhood at this dealership, although in a different era (my father was five years old when these photos were taken). Anyone with additional information about these photos is invited to contact me.

Employees at the grand opening

Dealership staff posing in front of the building. From left-to-right, front row: (unknown), Logan Denzer; back row: George Becker, (unknown), William Grice, Allen Easterlund, Marvin Behm. The unknown man in the back row may be a regional representative for John Deere. Allen would buy out the entire dealership in 1953, renaming it the Easterlund Implement Company. Allen sold to his sons in 1979, and the dealership closed in 1984. Logan Denzer would go on to purchase a John Deere dealership in neighboring Belle Plaine. That dealership would become Simeon Implement and later become part of the Ag Power chain.

Inside facing side door
Inside the showroom, facing north. A side door enabled equipment to be brought inside. While large enough for most farm tractors in 1952, it would be too small within a decade. I don't remember any machinery inside the showroom except for lawn tractors and snowmobiles. There is a Coca-Cola machine at the front door. Thirty years later there would still be a Coke machine near that door, newer than this one, but still serving glass bottles.

Inside facing front door
Facing the front door of the showroom from the inside. Apple spice cup cakes are on the tray, glass milk bottles, and coffee cups. A covered pot is barely visible at the bottom. Bundles of twine are stacked in front of the left window.

John Deere forage harvester poster John Deere Two-Cylinder poster
Details of the two posters by the front door. The left poster is for John Deere Forage Harvesters. The right poster is for tractors. The text reads, "Choice of the Tractor-Wise: John Deere Two-Cylinder Tractors".

Parts counter
Facing the parts counter, which was directly ahead as you walked into the showroom. There are index cards and binders across the countertop. In later decades all that information would be on microfiche. Now it can be accessed online from a mobile phone.

OTC tools display detail of parts binder
Details from behind the parts counter. On the far-left side is a display of wrenches and what appears to be the Owatonna Tool Company (OTC) logo. OTC was founded in 1925 and manufactured a number special tools for working on machinery. The detail of the parts binder isn't entirely clear, but I believe the sign says "Buy Only John Deere Belts". On the top shelf behind the counter is a toy tractor and plow. I found at least three toy displays, this tractor and plow and then two tractors with manure spreaders.

Milking equipment
Milking equipment on display in the front window. In a few years, the Le Sueur Creamery would build a new facility next door. The creamery became Davisco and is now part of Agropur. The company eventually purchased the dealership property has offices in what used to be the showroom.

John Deere banners
Detail of the banners hanging across the showroom featuring the short-lived John Deere Quality Farm Equipment logo. Other banners include Quik-Tatch Cultivators, feed blowers, and corn pickers.

Equipment on the lot
Machinery on the lot north of the building. Most of the tractors are early-styled two cylinder John Deeres, although there does appear to be one unstyled A in the background with spoke wheels.

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