A Thank You To Steam!

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My mother, Frances Thurman, at Pawnee, Oklahoma with my two youngest children, Gib and Brooke, May 1990.

Rt 1, Box 226, Archie, Missouri 64725

In everyone’s life there is someone who is your role model
and the person whom you look to when life tumbles in. For me this
person is my mother. She would never let me quit at anything I ever
tried. When I was just 14 I bought a 1932 F-20 Farmall that
hadn’t run in 20 years and hauled it home. When my dad saw it
he just shook his head in disbelief and asked why I would want such
a thing, but my mom smiled and said I could do it and let me park
it right outside the door so she could keep up on my progress. You
see, my mom was unable to walk as she had worked harder than most
men on our farm and had just worn her body out.

I fixed that tractor and many more after that, always outside
the back door of Mom’s house with her watching through the door

As the years went by I wanted a steam engine, as I had loved
them since I was a child. There was one for sale but I didn’t
have quite enough money to buy it. The old steamer was in bad shape
and needed a lot of work on the boiler. My mother said, ‘You
can fix it,’ and handed me a check for the amount I was short.
She and I didn’t know that day that she gave me a gift that I
can never repay. She gave me the gift of steam friendship. I fixed
the old steamer and took it to the show. It is not the biggest or
best looking engine, but to my mom it was the best. She would wave
at me from her wheelchair as I would drive it by. She would go to
shows with me but she ‘never saw a better steamer’ than

My mom waved at me for the last time this summer, as she died
suddenly in her sleep. To say I was lost is like saying there are a
few gallons of water in the ocean. When my life tumbled in I had no
one to run to, or at least that is what I thought.

Thanks to that small amount of money my mom gave me to buy a
worn out steam engine, I had made many friends in the hobby. These
people saved this ship as a lighthouse would during a storm. They
came by just to visit, or to ask me to go after parts with them,
brought food, wrote letters, made phone calls, sent flowers and
cards, came to the family night and funeral, and just showed they
cared. One steam buddy called every night for a week, and he lives
500 miles away. I have said all of this to say this to all of you
in ‘engine land’: People I know and you that I don’t
know, God Bless you. You are the greatest people on this earth. I
thank you for not letting the fire go out and for being my
‘safety valve’ when I was in danger of coming apart. I have
not pulled the throttle on a steamer since her death, but when I do
the first turn of the flywheel is to you, my steam friends; my
mother would not have had it any other way.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment