The Ladies Page


Florida Reunion

Courtesy of Denis McCormack, 180 John Anderson Drive, Ormond Beach, Florida 32074. Steam versus Gas at the Florida Reunion in February 1969.

Denis McCormack

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Looking ahead to May and June is always an exciting experience. Things are usually growing nicely by this time, the early flowers have cheered us as they came and went. Now it is tulips and lilacs and roses, iris, peonies, bridal wreath and so many other pretty blossoms. The oats fields should be green as they will be all summer, and early peas the greenest of all.

This past February we went to visit a sister in Florida and thought we could get a breath of summer ahead of time. But Florida had a rather cold winter. All of the snow in the north-land sent them cool temperatures it seems.

On our way down we saw an interesting old covered bridge in Indiana. Being of rather practical minds we questioned each other as to why they covered bridges in those days. When people used sleighs in the winter surely they needed snow on the bridge as well as the road. Perhaps some alert reader can give us the answer. Can you?

As we traveled down Highway 41 we saw a marker which interested me particularly. This was just before we got to Vincennes, Indiana, if my memory serves me well. It said, First Settlement of Shakers, and then said something about Shaker town. I think it was closer to Oaktown, Indiana. The miles go so fast on a trip it is hard to really localize anything. You see, my Uncle Ben was a Shaker.

In Kentucky we lost our road for just a short way and found ourselves in Sebree. There was saw the loveliest playhouse beside an elegant house which probably dates back to around 1900. I love well-built houses from that time. There are so sturdy, and yet so decorative. Again I so badly wanted a second look but we hurried on. We had bologna, wieners, and summer sausage in a cooler in the trunk of the car so we were trying to make Florida in two days.

But this house stayed in my mind all day. The playhouse was built exactly like a large house yet so charmingly miniature. Some one must have loved his little daughter or daughters a great deal to have ever conceived the idea. How I would like to know the history of this sweet little house! Can someone fill me in on this?

Also on 41 we stopped at a nicely kept gas station, and as is usual I headed for the rest room. This one was run by a negro couple I assume. The man filling the gas tank was black. Inside were two things I had never run across before, a lovely poem about starting the day with Jesus, and other poems, but also a bottle of hand lotion above the washbowl. There was a note pinned to the wall which read, 'Dear Ladies, Use the lotion on your beautiful hands but please don't take the bottle. Then no one else can use it. Thank you, Mrs. William Brown.' There was a glow around my heart as I left that place. But GET ON YOUR WAY the wieners would be getting warm. By this time I was already ready to say, 'Drat those stupid wieners.'

The next morning we had breakfast in Chattanooga, Tenn. We chose the Toddle House and I had the time of my life watching a superb cook shaking scrambled eggs around in a very hot and quite small frying pan. The food was excellent. She tipped that omelet over with such skill as to make me gasp. I wished I could have watched her feed everybody who came in. But the bologna was barking 'Full speed ahead.' It was also along 41 that we saw such interesting soil holding plants planted on the steep slopes on each side of us. They looked like small green fountains pouring out freshness in the morning sun.

On the evening of the second day we delivered the bologna. It was still sufficiently cool. I sighed with relief and fell into bed gratefully.

Two days later we attended a Florida Steam Engine Show. It was quite different from ours up north. There was a 'freak engine' there which Dot and Ray Schlisler of Clear-water have brought down from Ontario. He built most of it there. 'The Freak' has the name of Miss Dottie. It was interesting.

Col. Herndon had many small gas engines on display. He was born in North Texas and now lives in Sarasota. His Lady was trying to bandage his hand to cover an ugly scrape, and he was protesting at such feminine foolishness when I first saw them. How typical!

We watched Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Raulerson of River View squeezing the juice out of their sugar cane stalks and boiling the juice into syrup. I bought a bottle. It was a three roller mill run by a sweep on which they use either horse power or a tractor. Later we visited their farm on Rosemary Flats. It was a real highlight of the trip.

But at the Steam Show we also watched a lady sewing name tags on a modern sewing machine run by steam. She was Mrs. C. C. Idol of R. 3, Western Salem, N. C. Her husband told us of his Peerless engine and that the Steam Show is only two years old. They are doing well. As of now they have practically no large engines. But who ever threshed in the deep south? Or am I wrong?

We also saw a couple of hot air engines which was a new concept to us. They ran with such quietness as to be unbelievable. There was a good display by Darke Co. Steam Threshers of Greenville, Ohio, and a portable steam engine owned by W.B. Clement. This is now leased to 'Whistles In The Woods' a display at Ellamore, West Virginia. This had run a paper mill, I understood, until 1959. I hope I am right on this. My husband Isn't here to ask right now and this must get in the mail.

Another interesting man we met was R. L. Marshall of East Bloom-field, N. Y. He has had as many as 11 engines, and 50 whistles. He has only one left, a Buffalo Pitts. But he had models at the show. All steam men die hard. They have iron in their blood.

As we left the show and took to the road the trucks of grapefruit and oranges kept passing us. We were in no hurry. We had a lot to talk about and no bologna pushing us. As the trucks passed us an uncertain grapefruit or a bevy of oranges jiggled from the truck and rolled off the highway into the ditch. What a strange sight for northerners in February. We had left a yard treacherous with ice. It seemed unreal. But it was only the beginning of wonderful adventures which were to come in our sixteen day vacation.

And isn't it so true in our earthly life. It is only the beginning of wonder. 'What God had prepared for those who love Him' is to me a most marvelous prospect. God willing, I'll meet you again on The Ladies' Page.