633 Cleveland Street, Decatur, Indiana 46733
What is it about a steam thresher show that draws the crowds year after year after year? The smell of smoke? The steady purring of the grain seperator as the bundles are passing through, seperating the golden grain from the golden straw? The whine of the saw as it is passing through the log? These are but a few of the reasons. For some, the opportunity to see how things were done back in Dads' or Grandpas' day. For others, a day of relaxation and to get away from the hustle and hurry of a busy world and, for some, the joys of meeting old friends and the making of new ones.
What must be done so that we may live in the past for a few enjoyable hours? Days, weeks and several months of time are required for the four days that the 'Old Time Thresher Show' is held in the month of August each year. The grounds must be thoroughly cleaned and gone over after the winter season has passed. Repairs made from the damage caused by storms, winter blizzards and heavy spring rains. The grain has to be cut and shocked and then loaded on wagons and stored in the dry until show time. The exhibition grounds and parking areas have to be mowed and then raked. Logs have to be hauled in and in place ready for the saw mills. These are but a few of the thousand and one jobs that have to be done in order to get ready for the Big Days.
Two of the big jobs that were done before the 1965 show was the remodeling and enlargement of the sanitary rest rooms and the overhauling and adding to the grounds electrical system. More circuits, floodlights and convenience outlets were added. Quite a few extra outlets were necessary because of the number of people that now do their traveling in the popular camper mounted on a pick-up truck. In order to get all of the has to be work done before show time, a lot of thanks are due to the Jims, Franks, Johns, Macs, Jrs., Shays, Tommies, Irvins and a host of others.
The show grounds were kept fairly dust free thanks to the use of two sprinkling wagons. One of these has been in use on the grounds for several years. The other is a large tank mounted on a truck chassis with sprinkling attachments added by the members of the organization. The main drives throughout the grounds were paved with road stone which made them more solid in wet weather and more dust free in dry weather.
There was plenty of threshing for the visitor at the show as nine acres of wheat was cut, shocked and stored on wagons. Two large grain seperators and a smaller one were used and powered by the various steam engines and old time gas tractors on the grounds. Two saw mills on the grounds were kept busy. One mill permanently installed by our president, Jim Whitbey, and the other a portable mill owned by Dick Link of Starr City, Indiana. In addition to the two big mills, a small model mill was brought to the show by M.C. Lake and his brother of South Bend, Ind. So, in all, the visitor had plenty of saw mill activity.
Other attractions on the grounds was the plowing with the big steam engines and large gas tractors. Two plows were hooked together, making nine bottoms in all, for this demonstration. The old hickory tree was again well ventilated as four Baker fans were anchored to it. It certainly is a demonstration of power when four engines are in the belt and strutting their stuff on these fans. Not to be overlooked were the verneer mill brought to the show by Melvin Lugten of Hamilton, Michigan. This mill showed the process by which a thin slice of wood can be shaved from a large log. Next in line was the shingle mill furnished throught the courtesy of Elmer and Jack Egbert of Botkins, Ohio, showing how wooden shingles were made years ago. Also brought to the show by the Egberts was the Minard-Harder chaffer and horse-power. This chaffer demonstrated an early method of threshing before the modern grain seperator took its place.
Still like to hear of other happenings that took place at the 1965 'Old Time Thresher Show'? Well folks, read on as plenty of other events were a part of the show.
No steam show would be complete without the engine balancing performances put on so well by Melvin Lugten, Jack Egbert and Harry Woodmansee. Once in a while some over bold fellow would try it with his gas tractor. Another looked forward to attraction was the hill climbing events so ably performed by Harry Woodmansee, Jack Egbert and Percy Sherman.
Gas Engines? Gas Tractors? Put-Puts? We had them, Holy Smoke, did we have them. What was once called gasoline alley and then renamed gasoline boulevard must now be called gasoline acres. This writer doesn't know the exact number, but several hundred would be a good close guess. Squirrel, move over, some guy just moved in with a truck load of gas engines and parked where my tent used to be.
For the added entertainment of the visitor to the 'Old Time Thresher Show', they were delighted with the show put on by Nancy Lee and The Hilltoppers from the radio station W.O.W.O.; by Bud Widmer and his Rube Band from Defiance, Ohio; by the Keystone Kops from Findlay, Ohio and by that wonderful group of youngsters, the Elkhart Co. 4-H mounted drill and square dance teams.
As is the custom each year, the well known and looked forward to Old Time Thresher church services are held on Sunday morning of the show. No activity is permitted during the hours of devotion so that those who wish can attend the services in comfort and quiet. It certainly was an inspiring sight to see when the 4-H club youngsters came to the services riding their well-trained horses.
A note of sadness must be added, at times, to the good times just mentioned above and that is the passing to the great beyond of Mrs. Cecil Burns. We of the 'Old Time Thresher Show' knew her personally as 'Fannie'. Most of you will remember her as the smiling-faced lady that helped to sell tickets at the box-office. She will most certainly be missed by all of us.
And now a note of gladness; to the proud parents and to the members of the organization of a new director to be, in the years to come. A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Dean Saunders of Addison, Michigan. Mrs. Saunders, if you will recall, was and is one of our famous lady engineers.
Since the first 'Old Time Thresher Show', many years ago, to the present time, Jay Gould, farm service director of Radio Station W.O.W.O. has been a co-sponsor of the show. Jay is on the grounds to greet and visit with his many friends of the air waves. From time to time throughout the show, live broadcasts were made direct from the show grounds.