9043 N. 70th St. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53223
It's like magic! The visual image of long ago. The memories dance in a row in my head. 'PfouffPfouff Pfouff'! Can you hear the steam engines? 'Pfouff'! The throttling governors? The intermittent sounds of the hit and miss?
The sounds echo of the past, the Spirit of Inventions. A time of coming together.
A wonderful experience happened in the summer of 1991. A chance to go to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, for the Old Threshers Reunion. The images still dance in my mind's eye. The rows and rows of steam engines. Tractors, more than I could count. Section after section of engines of every type. Pure excitement. Volumes of energy arise and flow throughout the grounds. You see it on everyone's face. Such fun! Such excitement! What a thrill to be a witness to the whirl of a busy day at an engine show.
But the story doesn't start here. It started a long time ago, before Mt. Pleasant.
To help pass the time during a long recovery period following serious surgery, my father bought tubes of colorful paints for me. I had always been creative, but I never dreamed that I had the gift of painting. My dad . not only bought me one tube of paint, he bought several tubes, in fact, sets of paints! I can hear him now, 'Come on, Honey, paint'! I really did not want to. I would try and the acrylic paints would dry and become hard. But Dad was insistent with his gentle persuasion not to give up.
Three months later, my father died of lung cancer. Three days before he died, I finished my first painting! I rushed to the hospital with such excitement and joy. Dad was too weak to speak but he squeezed my hand, and tears were in his eyes.
Dad's gift was beyond description! I was to become an artist; to meet people and experience all that the world had to offer! A fresh new look to the world that is commonly familiar.
My healing process continued and my life took many turns.
I started painting wildlife but it just didn't quite feel right, as if an element were missing.
Then a friend introduced me to the antique engines. It happened one hot summer day in Sussex, Wisconsin. There were rows and rows of clatter and bang. There were children. There were adults who looked like children having a wonderful time with their engines. Words are a mere, inadequate expression of the energy that is experienced at an engine show. I couldn't get enough of it. I started to mingle more and more with these interesting people, people from all walks of life, sharing stories, laughing and learning about these wonderful pieces of equipment. As one friend said to me, 'Why don't you give up the fluff (referring to wildlife paintings), and paint some 'hardware'?'
As if it were to be, I started to paint the antique engines.
Florence, my bunny, became my traveling companion. Soon we were going to all of the local shows, displaying my art work of early gas and steam engines.
My poster is something very special! Many pieces of my new found friends' equipment appear in it, with the theme of 'horsepower.' There is Ivan and Betty Baxter's 1912 Rumely with the railroad lantern for a headlight, and Wes Seyfert's Baker steam engine. Scott Clausen owns the 4 HP Monitor and 5 HP Stickney. The early Ford pickup truck is owned by Ed and Lois Bureta. Gene and Barb Beck own the 12 HP Associated engine. Also featured were the McCormick Deering and Allis Chalmers tractor.
I would like to give a special thanks for all the help Michael Page and Matt Spors of Classic Impressions, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, gave me with publishing my posters. Thanks also to my Mom, Jean Robertson, and my friend Roger Fronek of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for all their help and encouragement. And thanks to Kevin Nolan, who introduced me to the wonderful world of early steam and gas engines, and Bob Lewis for all his help. Finally, 'thank you' to all of my new found friends that I've met along the way. Perhaps you will see me at one of the shows; come up and say 'Hi.'