A waitress serves plates of just-off-the-griddle flapjacks and fried eggs to a dozen or so gentlemen discussing their passion antique tractors.


For about an hour every Thursday morning, a few tables at Corral Family Restaurant are transported to another time and place. Modern-day Hesperia becomes 1920s Kansas or 1930s Nebraska when the tractor was a symbol of American ingenuity and productivity.


"Yea, I guess I've got about 11," said Larry Swope, president of the High Desert Antique Power Association.


"I've got eight," said member Paul Dunn.


"Are we're going to count the ones that don't run?" asked Ed Beals. "There's an addiction. You can't just buy one."


Swopes is hard-pressed to pick his favorite, but his wife prefers an antique model of tractor known as an Alice Charms.


"It's uglier than sin, but it draws a lot of attention."


Not only does the HDAPA whose motto is "keeping the mechanical past alive" hold their weekly "un-meeting" breakfast, but members meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month at Los Domingos Mexican Restaurant in Hesperia to learn more technical aspects of tractor restoration. The group has 70 members, mostly retirees. Some are formers farmers, and about 40 percent of members are wives of tractor owners.


"It's family focused," Swope said.


During Thursday morning's get-together, members were talking tractor and a lot more.


"It's one of the friendliest groups of people," Beals said. "You can talk about politics and religion and still be friends. But we stay away from one topic because we're too old."


"Speak for yourself!" Dunn said.


Currently, the tractor tinkerers are busy getting ready to show their pride and joy. HDAPA members will be out in force at the Phelan Phun Days on Sept. 10 and on Sept. 17 at Hesperia Days. On Oct. 1 and 2 they will put on a "display" at Silverlakes.


Also in October, Mesquite Elementary School students will get an opportunity to see antiques tractors up close and personal. Finally, on Nov. 12 at Flabob Airport in Rubidoux, the HDAPA members will help honor our veterans during a special event.


When winter comes, however, members stay inside the comforts of their garages where they work on their relics, tinkering with engines and putting bolts in place.


"We're kind of fair-weathered tractor people," Swope said. "In the Midwest the only thing that cuts the wind is a barbed-wire fence."


Whether they are working on their tractors in their garages or displaying them at a public event, members share one desire.


"Our ultimate goal is to bring them back to life," Beals said.


To learn more about the High Desert Antique Power Association, go to www.hdapa.org.