By MAE BABER, R.D.2, Brandon, Wisconsin
It is surprising, in life, and pleasant, to have unexpected and illuminating experiences. They have a way of adding a zest and tang to life that keeps one interested in adventuring new places and new interests. It need not end until life ends if one is blessed enough to remain healthy and able-bodied. Even those who are handicapped and shut-in can pursue a hobby, this conclusion I drew at the Pond du Lac Steam Show. In the building where the hobbies are on display I met a man, an interesting man, with an interesting hobby. The man is Donald Espenson of 3229 S. Day field, Milwaukee 7, Wisconsin. He has a collection of between five and six hundred watch fobs, all mounted on several sheets of background material. I didn't specifically notice of what they were made. He has only been collecting these for about four years and this year won first place in the Senior Collection Class at the South Gate show in Milwaukee. I asked him if he had traveled a lot to collect these and he answered in the negative. 'No, I have gotten most of them by writing letters,' he replied. The thought struck me at once. What a chance for shut-ins! This man was well and whole and yet he had not done a great deal of searching which involved travel.
Why not, you who are unable to get around amongst others, develop something like this ?
Some of the watch fobs were advertising pieces, some were state emblems, some school awards and some presidential. One old-timer had a girl with high button shoes gracing it. There were old steam engine fobs -- Avery, Case, Russell and Port Huron. The most attractive one was beautifully colored and had the name Holman of Canada on it. Oh yes, there was even one advertising Kelloggs Corn Flakes. I was rather startled to see two with swastika emblems on them, but upon inquiring I learned that the swastika is really the emblem of good luck. How sad that it was used as an ugly sign of dictatorial power. One of them was the advertisement of the Swastika Fuel Co. of Raton, New Mexico.
On a table adjacent to the fob display was a collection of Political Campaign material from 1860 to 1956. Jack Putnam had this on display. This included campaign buttons, ribbons, pictures and other things used in the campaigns of Wm. J. Bryan, Wm. McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, Woodrow Wilson, Alfred Landon, and Thomas Dewey. I didn't get the man's address.
I was intrigued by the old time hearing aid made of a piece of hose with a funnel on one end and the other end equipped with a form of nozzle with holes in it to place in the ear. There was an old hand pump vacuum cleaner of a custom in Holland that used to be observed. There the poor unfortunate young man who was served tea in the blue cup kept for that purpose knew he was not favored and need not come back again. I wonder if the color had anything to do with the expression 'feeling blue'. My mother came from Holland when she was four years old, however she knew about this.
Mrs. Peter Bucher of Fairfield, Iowa, was sitting at the next table with her display including candles made of beeswax. They were very different and attractive. The beeswax was cleverly wound to make the candle. Farther on were some real snazzy high button shoes. Next to the door sat Dorothea Kleinschmidt of Fond du Lac with a lovely Trip Around The World Quilt made up of 6,000 pieces. She has used it for ten years and it is still beautiful. She and her husband Bernhard also collect clocks and have a large collection. They put much time and effort into the Fond du Lac Steam Show.
Herbert Scharfenberg, Jr., of North Fond du Lac had a model of the 1902 Nash Rambler on display which was a beauty. He built it this past winter and it was bright red.
In one of the tents shone another red beauty - THE WORLD CHAMP - in '59. This was a Model T Ford from the year 1913 and it was restored to unbelievably fine condition. Last year was the first year of competition. It had taken eighteen months of work as the chickens were roosting on it when it was purchased by the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Young of Mattison, Illinois. They are members of The Horseless Carriage Club. It is insured for over $7,000.00. It is complete with carbide lights, cow lamps and tail light use gas. It has a whistle and a horn with a rubber bulb to squeeze. They have also acquired a 1911 Maxwell which they are working on now.
Then -- to get to steam engines --I shall only mention one -- and a beauty. Walter Kienow of Randolph has done a superb job of restoration with the able help of other steam men I understand. As he seemed some younger than some of the other men I asked him where his interest sprang from and he told me it was from the memory of Art Prase coming to thresh at his farm home when he was a small boy. So, Mr. Prase, you helped to build a memory to bring enjoyment to all of us. Thank you! There were sixteen months of spare time that went into this restoration, plus some he couldn't spare, Mr. Kienow said, but what a job he did on that Minneapolis! He is a mechanic and welder by trade and has a school teacher wife and daughter.
So--a good time was had by all -- but there was a twinge of regret on my part that it continued into Sunday. We have been so abundantly blessed in our wonderful land and sometimes it seems the greater share of our people have so little regard for God's wishes. He has asked one day out of every week to be given over to Him in worship and how shall we eventually fare if we take this for our own pleasure? It is such a wholesome venture, these Steam Get-Togethers and the memories of our forefathers seem to be woven through the very fibre of them. How would our Pilgrim Fathers respond to this use of God's Day? I wonder, don't you?