A Buffalo Springfield Steamer

| May/June 1980

  • Old Buffalo Springfield steam roller

  • Old Buffalo Springfield steam roller

New Ashford, Massachusetts 01237

Here is a picture of an old Buffalo Springfield steam roller I worked on one summer vacation period. If memory serves me right it was 1922. I was a big kid willing to work and make $1.50 for a nine-hour day and I thought that was really good. I was what was known on most jobs as the 'boy.' It was 'boy do this' and 'boy do that.' Actually I was hired as a helper learning to be a fireman on the roller and as water boy for the gang, as both the roller and gang needed water. I still remember the engineer. I tried hard but never could do anything right. Later I realized he was not an old grouch, but a good teacher.

The water pail and dipper were used by one and all and were so dirty and beat up one had to be real thirsty to use them. Mild complaints were made to the boss, but jobs were scarce so no one said very much. Most of the time I could get a good drink when we filled the tank, but did not like to use the regular supply. So one Saturday night while in town I bought a new 12-quart galvanized pail for 25c and a shiny new tin dipper for 15c. Monday morning when these appeared on the job they really created a lot of remarks. When they found out I bought them with my own money, I really became one of the gang.

The payoff came when the engineer who held a steam license was in demand for other part time jobs when this roller was not working. He made arrangements with the superintendent to take me with him resulting in new experiences on several other larger three-wheel type rollers. Before the summer was over I knew it was not a picnic on a hot day in July and August rolling down hot pavement when the roller is really working hard. It became so hot even the wheels and water tank got hot plus the operator and fireman.

In the course of time I could make and keep a good fire. Also the engineer would let me take the roller to the parking place and fire it up and bring it back in the morning. All in all, I thought I did very well that summer.

The man on the roller in the picture was the general superintendent. He was over 70 years old at the time. A few years ago his daughter, who was then over 80, gave me this picture.


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