Resident of Antique Acres, U. S. Hwy. 218, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Being a resident of Antique Acres, I have the advantage of
viewing the action on a yearly basis, not just during Labor Day
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
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
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
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
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
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
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