Old Betsy

L. K. Wood and Chris Busch with Old Betsy in front of the school house where Mr. Wood went to school when a boy. See A DAY IN JUNE.

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Mendon, Utah

I was working for the Lundahl Wagon Factory, who also built elevators. The boss said one warm day after dinner, 'Let's you and I go out to Petersboro and start up an elevator.' The trip led through the rich alfalfa, fields of the valley.

Along about three in the afternoon, a car drove up with my brother Lonn in it and a strange man somewhat heavy and strong-built. The man said, 'I'll bet you never heard of me --Chris Busch.' 'Chris,' T said, 'of Colton, Washington, Yes sir. We've corresponded for years.'

I arranged at once with the boss to get off for this day and the next as Chris and I had things to do. Chris and his family stayed in the Motel, nothwithstanding lodging with plain fare we offered. We looked over my relics and models.

Old Betsy seemed to intrigue Chris most. I said, 'I'll have Old Betsy fired up at six a. m. Be here and we'll go for a ride.'

A more typical June morning never was, as Chris approached and I pulled the cord on the Buckeye whistle. Two old steam threshermen were working up to a pitch of high tension. With 70 pounds of pressure I opened up the throttle and Betsy readily responded, with the old familiar sound of exhaust that only the Russell can produce.

Soon we were headed westward toward the towering peaks. Mourning doves greeted us and the blue bird also welcomed our approach. Our first hill was a challenge for modern tractors. But the 59 year old Russell climbed it on 70 pounds. Turning to the left we followed the roadway at the foot of the mountain range, furnishing perpetual background with mountains, canyons and natural rock slide as the morning June sun gave perfect light for the camera. The young folks followed closely in a modern vehicle.

Our next turn to the right, we confronted another steep climb that Betsy had done near three score years previous. She never faltered with a tall robust product of Washington State soil and a veteran of the Beehive State at control.

There were wild honey suckle and the Utah State emblem, Sogo Lily, in bloom on either side. We had now reached the approach of the Plantation Farm as it was called by the company of men that had owned it as well as the steam thresher. Old Betsy was the company's only survivor. She almost turned in without steering, as she'd done so many times in years past.

The company of men had passed on, that had owned the farm. It almost seemed, a wail of mourning when the Buckeye whistle was again sounded as signal of triumph of our climb of a most difficult height. With inspiring awe we turned and retraced our tracks, descending to the peaceful settlement and turned in my gate. Then she was safely back in her usual parking stall beneath the Locust Tree.

As the morning was only half gone, we loaded the 1/4 scale Case on the Dodge pickup and again, we were wending our way to the most alluring atmosphere of mountain air. The famous Deep Canyon was soon reached. We unloaded the craft of my own hands beside the clear mountain stream. A few minutes were required to get up steam and the little handmade whistle announced our approach to the dug-way, which compared with the same pitch used on the ramps of the Case Company had at the Fair display. The one-fourth scale Premium Case model climbed it as before.

Lunch was now ready to be served to the old veterans as well as the wives and young folks who brought up the rear. The serving was realistic of days gone by to hungry threshing crews, and in the same place beside the rippling waters of the Rockies.

We re-loaded the Case Model and once more replaced it in my museum.

We rolled out the one-half scale Russell, fired it up and did some road stunts as well as a test on the belt, driving the one-half scale Dixie at full speed.

There was still some time left in a long June day. We drove up to Malad, Idaho, and saw the Case 60 HP, the Case 45 and Case 50 as well as the Aultman Taylor 25. All had been idle for years, and only added more melancholy to the trip that was already filled with awe.

Arriving back at my home we reviewed the eventful day of reliving happy days gone by. As two old veteran threshermen parted, my innermost thoughts were, 'None so rare as a day in June.'