A HappeningWalking in J.I. Case's Footsteps

| January/February 1991

Co-Chairman, Communications, P. O .Box 5128, Bella Vista, Arkanas 72714-0128

In the first place, a couple of years ago, Branch 10 of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association agreed to host the 1990 national meeting of EDGE&TA at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, American Legion show grounds on June 23-24. Oak Creek is just a half-hour's drive north of Racine, which is Case 'Mecca.' That's where J.I. started his company almost 150 years ago and also where admirers of the man and the line of equipment he founded like to visit.

Harry Kline, on ground, second from left, and Lloyd 'Smitty' Smith admire the birds they've just delivered to Oak Creek.

In the winter of 1988-89, the Case Heritage Foundation, which always has enjoyed excellent cooperative relationships with a number of members and branches of the EDGE&TA, contacted Branch 10 to see if a joint effort involving the Foundation could be worked out that would expand the two-day gas engine and tractor show into a special three-day program, taking advantage of the show's proximity to Case sights-to-be-seen in Racine and Rochester (where J.I. developed his early improvements for the groundhog thresher). The plan was also to attract a special exhibition of Case equipment to the show grounds from the region.

Dale Noel's 1/3-scale model with matching Case threshing machine is loaded for the trio home to West Salem, WI after a busy weekend at Oak Creek.

Branch 10 president, Don Esch, and the Branch 10 leaders liked the idea, 'a happening' was about to occur. It could not have turned out as happily as it did if there had been anything less than the 100 percent cooperation, helpfulness and friendliness which characterized the Host Committee, including Don, Rory and Randy Esch; Barbara and Roger Fink, Roy Holler, Jeff Jablonski, Mike and Gerry Popp, Dave Chvilicek, and Diane Juarez. Gerry Popp did such an exceptional job with the grounds layout (putting a big and varied show in limited space) and the preparation of exhibitor stakes, while Roger and Barbara Fink were totally helpful in preparations for the historical tour and pitched in wherever needed throughout the weekend. Rory Esch handled exhibitor registration and the parade line-up like a real pro. Since Branch 10's annual show has not normally included steam engines and related exhibits, Foundation Charter member, Fred Reckelberg of Lutemberg, Wisconsin, who might properly be called 'Mr. Steam' in Wisconsin and maybe 'Mr. Sawmill,' too, was called to the rescue. He agreed to bring his mill and all of the trimmings, including a large and experienced crew that includes his sons and many of Fred's friends, while also helping to round up plenty of Case steam engines, big and little (80 HP all the way down to 1' scale), as well as a wonderful 1914 20-40 Case tractor, as the essential ingredients for a first class steam and ag-heritage demonstration running in conjunction with Branch 10's normally outstanding gas engine and tractor show.


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