Soot in the flues

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Our mail for the column is very light this month, which we are hoping is an indicator that our correspondents are all so busy attending engine shows, that they haven't taken the time to write to us this issue. We need to remind you again, that we really want your letters, whether they are stories from the shows you've attended, or other collectors you've met, or engines you're working on or searching for. If you're looking for advice on any aspect of the steam traction engine collecting hobby, give the Soot in the Flues column a chance to lend a hand by connecting you with other readers who might be able to help you. And now, on to our letters:

We received this from MIKE CURTIS, P. O. Box 53, Brooklyn St., Eaton, New York 13334: 'Here in Historic Eaton, we're very interested in our local heritage, and have put together history books on the Wood,

Taber & Morse works, and on the hamlet of Eaton, for our bicentennial. I live across from Allen Wood's first house!

'We, the people and children of Eaton, would like to locate as many of the Wood, Taber & Morse engines that were made in Eaton as we can. No one has ever seen one operate or seen one close up. We also would like to put one in a museum in the near future. Please, if you could, come and visit us.'

MELVIN COLLINS writes: 'I have been a regular reader of IMA for three years. It is the one publication that ranks as a 'must read immediately' when it arrives in the mail. After your encouragement in the July/August issue, I decided to share my story, and pictures, of my steam collection with you and your readers.

'My wife, Barbara, called it serendipity when I told her I had found three steam engines as I searched for a parking place on a downtown San Francisco back street. On the West Coast for a trade show, the last thing I expected was to find three peak condition engines looking for a new owner. The engines, one full size and two half-scale models, were remnants of an estate sale, and had been wheeled out into a parking lot while the auction house reorganized merchandise.

'My good luck continued when I found that one of my San Francisco contacts knew the owner personally. He negotiated the deal and arranged shipping back to Georgia. And as a bonus, he threw in a circa 1890 'dog power' treadmill. It was a very good trip!

'The photo enclosed shows my three San Francisco engines next to the one-third scale single cylinder Case style engine I've had since 1990. The postcard was made from a 24' x 36' painting Barbara had commissioned as a surprise gift last Christmas. No visit to our home is complete without a trip to the shop (with a 700 square foot addition to accommodate the new arrivals from California), to see my steamers. I hope you enjoy them too. (See postcard, above.)'

As you begin to enjoy the chill of winter, please drop us a line so we can bring you more letters next month!

It's at this time of year, as the holidays approach, that we fondly remember the late Anna Mae Branyan, former columnist for Soot in the Flues. Her family at home, and her friends in Engine land whom she came to regard as family, meant the world to her.

Here at IMA we all go out for a luncheon together before we leave for the Christmas holiday; a highlight of that annual event was having Anna Mae as our guest. We'll miss her lively presence there.

She loved her work on this column, looking forward each time to hearing from the readers. We hope to continue her work with Soot in the Flues, but will need your help. Please send us your questions, anecdotes, and letters in order that we might carry on where our dear Anna Mae left off. We look forward to hearing from all of you.

Here's our wish for you: as you sit down at the table at Thanksgiving, may you be surrounded by family and those that you love and love you, and may you have much to be thankful for in 1995. We also give you our best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a bountiful New Year!!

Linda and Gail