Farm Collector

First Things

As this issue heads to the printer, I’m putting
away the suitcase: It is the end of show season for me. The season
of ’06 stretched from April to September, from California to New
York, and ended in my own backyard, geographically speaking, at Mt.
Pleasant, Iowa.

Everyone who frequents shows has a favorite, and for me, Mt.
Pleasant is that show. Each year as I enter the grounds, I have the
uncanny feeling of having stumbled onto a sort of Midwestern
version of Brigadoon, the Scottish town of Broadway musical fame
that could be seen by outsiders only every 100 years. It is as if
the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion materializes out of the fog, and
no matter what the calendar says, it feels as though only a day has
passed since my last visit.

For a variety of eminently sensible reasons, Farm
and sister publications Gas Engine Magazine
and Steam Traction set up shop at just one show – Mt.
Pleasant – each year. Our crew has become well familiar with the
rhythm and pace of the show. We know shortcuts through the grounds
… we have our favorite lunch stands … we know who to ask when we
need help with logistics. All of that, however, is secondary to the

At the shows, after all, we get to meet with you, our readers.
And what a joy that is! We hear from you all year, through mail,
e-mail and phone calls. But nothing beats a handshake and a
face-to-face chat; nothing beats renewal of old friendships.
Restoration projects, story leads, things you like in the
magazines, things you don’t, neat things you’ve seen at the show –
those are all music to our ears.

It’s also a time when stories are shared. A fellow who stopped
to visit at the tent at Mt. Pleasant noted that he was just old
enough to remember life before rural electrification and indoor
plumbing. “We had water, of course,” he said, “but Dad always
called it walking water.”

As a fan of the understated humor of the heartland, I laughed
when I heard the line. Still, memory being what it is, one day soon
it’ll fade from my mind, crowded out by something more pressing.
But it’s not gone forever. Months from now, something will prod my
memory. I’ll recall “walking water” and the chat in a tent on a
bright summer day, and a smile will spread across my face. For me,
that’s the beauty of show season. Like Brigadoon, it never really
goes away.

Leslie McManus, Editor

  • Published on Nov 1, 2006
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