MY VIEWPOINT OF MEN & MACHINES OF YESTERYEAR
Iowa on parade at Antique Acres, Cedar Falls, Iowa. 18-55 Wood Bros. Steamer built at Des Moines, Iowa operated by Robert Fischels, owned by A. J. Fischels and Sons. Courtesy of A. J. Fischels, Waterloo, Iowa 50700.
Resident of Antique Acres, U. S. Hwy. 218, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613.
Being a resident of Antique Acres, I have the advantage of viewing the action on a yearly basis, not just during Labor Day Weekend.
My first glimpse of a steam engine was the summer we moved to the Acres, seven years ago. Being a farm girl and a tomboy at heart, three years of city-living was enough for me. I was anxious to retreat to the wide open spaces. I'll admit, though, my first visit to the Acres left me with second thoughts. It was the first year at this location and it's hard to imagine, looking at the beautiful lawns and shade trees in the camping and picnic areas now, that it was nothing but a tangled mess of brambles and waist high weeds. The members really put in a hard summer's work; and I watched in amazement as the huge strange looking machines started pouring in.
My first show left me in awe, but as I became busy with my own daily routine after venturing into parent-hood, the shows came to mean little more than a lot of noise and polluted air.
Then last year, I had my first experience helping Andy Fischels, Vice-Pres. of Antique Acres, with his stories. It started out with just the typing and then after a few stories I 'advanced', writing the stories around his notes. When we were working on our last one last winter, he said, 'Pat, next year you're not only going to help write them, you're going to 'know' what you're writing about.'
Well, he kept his word and it's been quite an experience, plus a lot of fun. The 10th of July a 'Threshing Day' was scheduled and Andy informed me I was about to make my debut into the movie-world. So I donned a calico skirt and bonnet and ventured out across the fields. The stage was set with John Sundermeyer engineering the A. J. Fischels and Sons' Wood Bros. Steamer and Andy operating John's Wood Bros. Separator, making this a complete Wood Bros. rig which is an Iowa product, built in Des Moines, Iowa. Also present was a host of members giving a helping hand wherever needed. As I paraded around under Andy's directions, getting dust in my hair and soot on my blouse, the tom-boy in me started to take hold and I was about to climb on the hay rack and start pitching bundles, when the thresher resisted the sideways bundles it was being tossed. So I decided to remain a lady and let the men create their own problems. After a brief intermission, they were back in business and threshed seven loads of rye. The rest was carefully stacked to wait until show time.
My one impression that seems to stick true year after year of the Acres is that of one of Iowa's famous storms. As spring begins to poke its head out of the snow banks, one by one the members start to appear like the first few sprinkles of a rainstorm. By the first of June the camping trailers have had their spring cleaning and are ready for their summer residents. The big doors of the storage sheds are opened and their winter occupants are brought out into the warm sunshine, waiting their yearly physicals. The souvenir booths are aired out and magazines and handmade items appear on the shelves. Tourists from all states enter our drive and cameras start clicking, as the Acres are open as a museum from June to October. Lawnmowers roar and the air's filled with fresh paint. It's always a thrill to see the first steam engine fired up and hear its shrill whistle.
By the first of August the storm picks up momentum as new ideas are introduced and acted upon. One great improvement this year was the new sound-room, office combination. It's just a small building, only 10' by 12', but really serves the purpose. It was built last year from scratch, even including the logs sawed at our own saw mill. This summer it was insulated, paneled, sound-proofed, new siding, and even air-conditioned. It's equipped with a new and powerful public-address system with six speakers placed accordingly on grounds, a 4-track RCA tape recorder that supplied as much as 24 hours of non-stop music, and an intercom system that let us keep in touch with the main ticket office.
The advertising bills took on a new and more striking look, a public phone was installed, and also a pop machine.
It was decided to make some changes on the grounds, too, moving the gas engines from the center of the show grounds to the north end, as it was felt there wouldn't be as much interference with the parade and speakers. Tractors were put in their place.
Engineers appeared all over the grounds, diagnosing problems and making sure they were corrected by show time. One incident, especially, left me a little perplexed. A couple weeks before the show, one of the engineers' cars balked and the sight of five of the top engineers, who could tackle any problem on these huge engines, standing around in complete bewilderment was hard to accept, but a true example of the changes in a single man's lifetime.
Approaching the peak of the storm, Labor Day Weekend, things really started to roll. The camping areas were starting to fill with new and old acquaintances, displays and concessions organized, eating tent awaiting its many hungry customers, wood cut, coal bins filled, and excitement flowed readily through the stream of happy people as they congregated in little groups that dotted the Acres, filling each other in on the events of their past year.
Of course, 'rain' is a forbidden thought at show time, but with the lack of it for several weeks before, this also can present a problem. By Sept. 2 it was decided that a trial run was in order for the Smolik Bros. 110 Case and 14 bottom plow. Andy wanted me to get an on-the-spot interview, so I ran to get my tablet and pen, which I soon learned was a wasted burst of energy. In my farming days, you simply gased-up, hooked-up, and turned a key. After a lengthy wait, I realized that it's a little more involved when it comes to steam plowing. Climbing aboard the plow, I eagerly awaited this new experience. As the huge engine was put in gear, the plow took on a feeling of a small earthquake and then more like a roller coaster as the plows were inserted and the expected hardness of the ground proved to be true. We only went about 100' and ended up with a bent beam. It was also discovered that someone had forgotten to replace a drain plug in the Case. As I made my exit, with promises of a better ride the next day, I was amazed by the complete calm of these men and wondered if it was a true virtue or only my presence that kept the air from being polluted by more than just the steamer.
My next assignment was helping Parade Marshall, Don Gibbons, line-up the equipment for the daily parades. I found this to be one of those many behind the scenes jobs which are necessary, but most likely unknowledgeable to the public, to have a good show. The year before I had helped re-type the box of parade cards, but then they were only words. Now as we walked among the many rows of equipment, checking numbers, these words took on meaning as I came face-to-face with each machine.
Well, by this time, needless to say, I was more than just a little caught up in the excitement of this little chunk of show-biz world. Things were really shaping up nicely as everyone finished their last minute preparations.
As we've mentioned every year in our stories, we just can't put enough emphasis on the exceptional help we get from all our very dependable friends that come from all over the U.S.
One of the first ones to arrive in a gust of music blaring from his loudspeaker was Mr. Harold Smith, 'Smitty', 77 years young, and from Ralston, Iowa. A retired saw-miller and thresher, he went into the PA business in 1960 and has been with the Acres since 1961. Even with all the new equipment, he still furnished a few of his own, such as the CB mike which allowed them to announce even from inside the office; the level-meter which determines how much sound is going out; and also, an extra speaker, which he donated to the Acres this year. Wearing the ribbon of 'LOAFER', he's really a wonderful person and I soon found that if you're ever down, just take a few minutes and visit Smitty, with his many jokes and never fading smile, I dare you to go away not feeling better.
We have many show-families with us, also. One of them is the Lou Krugers, from Columbia, Missouri. Their presence is always a special treat at the Acres. They come prepared to do anything and everything. Lou can usually be found doing an exceptional job on the Proney Brake, owned by the Smolik Bros. of Osage, Iowa. Mrs. Kruger is always glad to help out in the souvenir booths; while Brenda, Linda, and Craig generally assist all over the grounds, either pitching bundles into the thresher or doing any other job available. During the parade, you're likely to see their faces two or three times, either driving or just riding, in complete costume of that era.
Mr. and Mrs. Art Robinson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota will always receive a warm welcome at the Acres. Art is the operator of the scale model shingle mill, while Cliff Johnston operates the standard size shingle mill. The boys had them in full operation and produced some beautiful aromatic souvenirs from pre-dried red cedar. Art always brings us one of his surprise 'toys' and this year it was a one-three-fourth inch to the foot, scale model of a 1917 Pioneer Gas Tractor. He had it running various places on the grounds and during the parade it made quite a picture running along side of the Smolik Bros. 40-140 Reeves. Mrs. Robinson does an excellent job assisting in the souvenir booths.
Another couple we're always glad to see arrive is Mr. and Mrs. Fritz Harnish from Akron, Ohio. They set up a nice display of watch fobs and donated one each day for an extra prize during the drawings.
A host of other helpers include Mr. Arnie Slyndie from Lyle, Minnesota, 81 years young, and can be found at the Acres a few weeks prior to the show insuring the public an excellent performance from the Smolik Bros. engines. Plowing during the show was done by the Smolik Bros. 40-140 Reeves Compound Steamer, operated by Arnie, steam steering by Ray Smolik; and the Smolik Bros. 110 H.P. Case operated by George Hedke of Davis Junction, Illinois, steering by Ray Smolik. These rigs plowed almost 6 acres pulling a John Deere 14 bottom plow. I might add, I never did get my ride. The times I was there, the platform was well filled, but I could see, after Saturday's unhoped for rain, they were getting a lot smoother ride than I did, as the plows slide easily through the black soil.
In the lumber department, a big favorite of many, the saw mill operated by Leonard Flynn from Toledo, Iowa was almost in constant operation, due to the large volume of logs to be sawed. It was powered by a 22-70 Avery, in the forenoon, operated by Robert Fischels, and Don Deutch's Rumely in the afternoons. I had a chance to talk with Mr. Flynn and realized why he was capable of such flawless work. He's been sawing for forty-one years through the area from Independence, Iowa to Marshall-town, Iowa and averaged from 100 to 150,000 board feet a year. He bought his first mill when he was only 20 and even now, is repairing an old mill at his home. He's been with the Acres around five years and does a superb job.
Mr. Frank Williams, Finchford, Iowa, did a fine job sawing slab wood with the tractor-powered buzz saw.
A new and different exhibitor this year was Mr. William Schumacher, Denver, Iowa, with his homemade, hydraulic wood splitter. His life's been busy with 50 years of threshing, then repair work, and constructing elevators. His wood-splitter had originally been a snow plow he'd made 20 years ago. He transformed it in only 10 days. It has a 10' splitting wedge with 40 tons of hydraulic pressure; and splits stumps up to 22' Mr. Schumacher has promised to be back in '72 and we'll be looking for him.
Another familiar face was Mr. Fred Golinveaux from Waterloo, Iowa with his 'Lady Gay', the only authentic 'V' Stern wheel Steamboat in the U. S. which he built himself in 1964-65. This is always a treat for all ages. She's e-quipped with an electronic reproduction of most early-day whistles, and calliope, barrel organ, and other musical devices. We're sorry to say that the Lady Gay was sold this year at our show and her new home will be in a Des Moines Park, where shell be put in the water. Though she'll be much missed at the Acres, we know she'll be making many new friends and it just might be possible that she'll make the trip back for our show in '72. We want to thank Fred for these many enjoyable years and hope hell be back to visit us, as he's made a multitude of friends.
Mr. L. B. Herron of Newell, Iowa, who's been with our show now for two years, selling gallons of pure honey, is also to be commended this year for the beautiful 18 H.P. Fuller and Johnson Gasoline Engine he brought with him. He had this in full operation during the show. We're looking forward to having him back in '72, as he's a superb showman and good salesman.
Mr. Craig Olmstead, Cedar Falls, Iowa, is another who has put in an exceptional number of hours work, not only during show time.
And we can't forget two distant-members who give us their all whenever they're at the Acres, Mr. Jim Van Nice, U. S. Navy, Pensacola, Florida and Mr. Ray Fischels, Salem, New Jersey, who usually takes up residence on the Fischels' Wood Bros. Steamer. I know it must be comforting to the senior members to know that the enjoyment of this past generation will be carried on through these younger members.
Always an interesting place to visit is our 40' by 100' building full of flea market exhibits. Many of these people have been with us more than five years and every year there are new ones added. Sales proved to be exceptional, as always. You'll also find various sales exhibits and concessions on the grounds.
To these and all others who helped bring the Acres another successful show, the officers of Antique Acres wish to express their deepest thanks and appreciation.
Threshing during the show was done by John Sundermeyer's Wood Bros. thresher, powered by A. J. Fischels & Sons' Wood Bros. steamer; and John Sundermeyer's 16-60 double simple Reeves and the Shelby Bellinger 20 H.P. Minneapolis, operated by Nelson Lord, of Bradford, Iowa. Here too, I was allowed a closer look at the action as Andy helped me on top of the thresher and explained just what was going on. But still wearing my long skirt, I was more concerned at the moment with getting down as gracefully as I'd managed to get up there.
The daily parades were enjoyable to the participants as well as the spectators. Mr. Don Gibbons served as Parade Marshall, Mr. Shelby Bellinger was MC, and I had a ring-side seat assisting with the parade cards.
All steam equipment was featured, as well as many tractors of various makes and sizes as we could find operators for, some running two and three different tractors per parade.
Making the parades more spectacular are the newly restored machines. This year there was a great variety, such as a 27-44 Twin City, a 20 Cat., and a 17-35 Cross Mount Case by Mr. Harold Pries; several rare vintage International Farmals and three McCormick Deering tractors, beautifully restored and painted in the original factory colors by Mr. Derwood Heine, Secretary of Antique Acres; three John Deere D tractors, a 36-58 Case separator with a Heineke swinging stacker, one or more old corn shellers, feed mills, and ear corn cutters by Mr. Alfred Lindeman; and on A. J. Fischels and Sons' Wood Bros. Steamer, that was new to last years show, a completely rebuilt valve mechanism and beautifully built and installed canopy by Andy Fischels.
Of special interest was a new feature to the 1971 show, a tractor built by Mr. Roy Harper, 210 W. Longview St., Cedar Falls, Iowa. This tractor was built in his small engine repair shop near his home. Quoting Mr. Harper on the construction, for time and parts, as follows, 'I started to build this tractor in 1966 with a used Massey Harris 44 rear axle and transmission; removed old 44 frame and built my own frame from 6' channel. I made front axle out of a Farmal F-20 frame, used Buick front wheels and spindles and installed instrument platform on the rear. I built my own fenders, hood, grill, and shell. The motor used is a 1949 Roadmaster Buick. I made my own intake manifold out of 2' by 4' steel tube. I used an updraft carburetor off an 18-50 Oliver tractor and equipped very efficient governor. The motor is hooked direct to the transmission. I installed power-steering for front wheels from a 1961 Pontiac. The seat came from an 18-50 Oliver. I installed individual hydraulic brakes to each wheel. It's painted Oliver green and fenders stripped white. At the proney brake test, the Buick engine pulled 48 H.P.' Unquote. Seeing this tractor perform in the field pulling four 16' bottoms at about three miles per hour, with power to spare, is quite a sight.
Bringing up the tail-end of the parades were the antique cars driven by their various owners. Including such makes as a 1929 Cadillac, a 1910 Flanders, Model T Fords, Hutmoble, Erskine and so forth, all which were beautifully restored.
Two other interesting displays are the gas engine line, of which there are some 125 or so, owned by Mr. John Ruth, Mr. Cliff Johnston, Mr. E. B. Crowell, and many others too numerous to mention; also, the Mr. Stuart Fenton collection of oil pulls, which are of most sizes of the older vintage, from 12-24 to 30-60. Mr. Fenton is also the owner of the saw mill.
You'll always find a crowd around our two souvenir booths, which are run very efficiently by the ladies of our club. Along with a multitude of reprint catalogues and publications, they have a fine selection of jewelry, watch fobs, and beautiful handmade items. They did an exceptional business this year.
Specializing in barbecued chicken which was fixed on a huge charcoaler, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Hennings of New Hampton, Iowa and Mr. and Mrs. John