In writing this episode, I'm sort a paralleled to Peggy and Jill Steinmetz, (daughters of the DURWARD STEINMETZ'S, LaFarge, Wis.). They were among the fortunate few who were excused from school to attend The Old Threshers' Reunion, but they were booked to give a report on the event when they got back. Now, there is a broad-minded version of education - a field trip of events depicting past history in reality, before their very eyes.
Got GEORGE CHRISTIAN with his tent and cot, ALICE, with her luggage and took off for our annual Labor Day week of steam rally. First stop BUDENSKI'S Thresh Meet on Sept. 2 netted no take, their valley under water, definitely rained out. George, came up with, if we want to take in PAUL HEMP'S MUSEUM, west of Rochester, he'd buy the tickets. This indeed a very worthwhile stop and we are very grateful for Paul's hospitality and certainly his museum deserves every consideration for those antiquely inclined - Aren't we all? Here too, we met a group who had stopped at Budenski's and were destined for Mt. Pleasant.
The weather, very favorable on Labor Day for the Cedar Falls show. We met several acquaintances including PRANK STEBRITZ and his son, Tom who has just completed a Gaar-Scott model engine and is now building a half scale 110 Case- won't that be some in? An outstanding attraction at this show is SMOLICK BROS. of Osage, Iowa, 110 Case No. 29-237 pulling a 14 bottom plow and doing right nice work.
By nightfall, we pulled into REUBEN BOHMAN'S yard at Alpha, III. Their long standing invite now became a reality. The following day, we toured that locality, visiting historic spots at Andover and Bishop Hill, also two shaft coal mines. We met DONALD OLSON at Galva, who owns a 75 Case No. 35445, which his father bought new in 1922. George Christian often spoke of hedge row fences 'back in Illinois.' Now, here for the first time Alice and I really saw such early day fence line, and did pick some Osage oranges from said hedge trees. Donald was telling as how a single cylinder engine is superior to a double in pulling hedge, said you need that rocking pull you don't get from a two cylinder steamer. In addition to Reuben's farming, he operates a 50 Case and Crabb saw mill. Upon leaving, we were given pears and concord grapes, as well as a 1910 Minneapolis Catalog. Thanks to Bohman's for their generosity and a good time.
By noon on the opening day of Old Settlers, we were driving stakes for George's tent and renewing old acquaintances put us in stride with the many activities. A rather frustrated lady, in an orange colored dress, came rushedly by, 'Do you know which engine the Governor is on?' Momentarily, I was speechless, my thinking was every engine had a governor on it. Somehow, I had to get her off the hook. 'I take it you mean some dignitary? He would likely be on one of the leading engines in the parade, likely up on the track by now.'
Meandering over to the Stillwater New Giant, sure enough there was GLENN McNAMAR, Granger, Mo. as in years past. He was a typical boy, spry and happy. To my surprise, he had some old machinery catalogs in the tool box. He called my attention to one on the Robinson engine. The only steamer with a LaGrippe friction clutch invented by F. W. Robinson, himself. It was in reverse of the customary, in that the inner side of flywheel had a wood band fitted in to accommodate the expending clutch shoes. Says Glenn, he remembered when Ed and Jim SMITH from Arbeela had one of those engines and encountered no trouble at all. Another catalog of older vintage showed the Eureka center-draft hay mower. The 5 or 6 foot cutting bar operated directly behind the horses, using a long double-tree, one horse would alternately walk in the standing hay as the swath was cut forth and back, similar to a two way plow. These machines were built in Utica, N. Y. and Glenn says he'd like to locate such a mower.
Confabbing with EINER TOSTENSON, from Minneapolis, he got to, 'Where is Alice?' I sea, 'I think she's in the Women's Tent, some lend of cooking demonstration, I guess'. 'That's a joke', says Einer 'Nobody needs tell these women how to cook'. That statement was further verified in a chat with HAROLD OTTOWAY from Wichita, he came up with the conclusion that serving good meals is one reason for the success of this show - men just don't go for pop and hamburgers.
Just how I fell heir to running the stationary Eli baler is beyond me, but I sensed with a steamer and some added man power this could be a working project. My first prospect, George BEDNAR from N. W. Minneapolis. He went to work oiling up this latest acquisition. Overheard him talking, 'Let's see there's some do-jigger in here that works, Oh yes, I see it's got a link valve motion'. About that time, here comes my friend Helmer SELVERSON from Amery, Wis. Seems he had acquired a similar baler and was curious to see it operate so he gets booked to help tie wires. In further pursuit, I prodded Bob McLAREN from Manilla, Iowa to give us a hand. In trying to explain the workings, I tell him, putting in the blocks, they have to sort a synchronize with the plunger. He sees, 'I don't know what that word means, but it sounds like a lot of fun'. Well, in due time we were set up and doing business, but as far as Bob was concerned, he couldn't conceive the idea that baling straw was 'having fun', but we managed to bale all the threshed straw and we were grateful for the use of Ray ERNST'S 6 hp N. S. and 12 h p Russell to power the baler as well as C.B. Killing's 'masterpiece' in steam. Floyd CARTER, Monmouth, III. got involved with operating the two threshers, 30 inch hand feed Russell and 32 inch complete Port Huron. Rumors are evident that with Floyd's seniority rating, he will continue in charge of the threshing.
Ed VOGEL, who flies his airplane to Mt. Pleasant every year showed some movies on their farming operations and steam threshing still using bundle teams, horses and mules. Not only threshing grain, but hulling clover and threshing beans on their Buhl, Idaho irrigated farm, rather I should say ranch. Very interesting pictures, Yes, hundreds of steam fans, but only one Ed Vogel, yet.
On the last morning of Old Threshers, Oliver RHEA from Pennsylvania had left the Sater house as usual -at the crack of dawn (as Geo. De Ruyter would say). Before we left, in comes Oliver, seems he had forgotten his tobacco, but there was a bit more involved, he was going from door to door with a 3-in-1 oil can, talking to himself, 'I'm gonna oil these hinges, if it's the last thing I do'. From my shaving procedure, I cut in, 'Yeah, they been squeaking all right, but am not you doing that after the horse is stolen? -the show is about over'. 'What you mean'? he sea, 'this been going on for eleven years', and then added, 'Bill won't dare come in tonight, he'll think it's the wrong house'. (Anyhow, Thanks, Oliver, from us and Mary Ellen, too).
After a hearty pancake breakfast, I walked with Bud WAGNER of De Moines over to Helen Wood's engine to start fire. Cleaning flues and checking the water was quite routine but finding the smoke-stack plugged with wet paper sort a lowered his ego. 'Gosh, too bad'-, I sees. Bud sees, 'Yes, too den bad, this is the last day or I'd get even with somebody'. (I think that's the words he used?) Rawligh CREEK'S double N-S was victim of the same gesture, but somehow two red strings got left hanging outside, so Rawligh smelled the rat before starting a fire.
The following week-end, we three hit for the Red River Valley to Alf Elden's steam-up at Oslo, Minn. Stopped at Bill BRIDENS, Crookston, the first night, to gander over his array of collectors items. Had a ride on Bill's home-made 4 wheel drive, with a 200 hp Diesel Motor, capable of pulling a 10 bottom plow at 3 m.p.h. Now, that's what I call a 'la la ba loosa'. Must say, we sure enjoyed our visit at Bridens, Thanks, indeed.
Arrived at ELDENS about noon on Saturday, the various activities and displays were widely divided to avoid congestion. Briden had supervision of the chain-drive Giant No. 3806 and there was ample help to keep bundles moving. To my delight, I had opportunity to cut bands for the handfed Peerless thresher, which AIF acquired from Nielsville, Wis. It is unique in that it has no sieves. His sawmill is another oddity, purchased in Norway and known as a bench-Mill, using a straight saw, 46 inch, to compensate for boards being sawed from either side. Much could be said of Eldens varied equipment, not to mention the interesting museum on the grounds. Movies were run in the evening of various steam shows and here as at Mt. Pleasant, I was privileged to show a film on threshing in England, that I received from Art Clark of Sussex, truly a film amazingly different.
One can hardly span the vast Red River Valley without sensing a feeling of pioneering days; here was fertile soil, open country, here was opportunity. I was having a lunch at Eldens cook-car and by mere coincidence, I met Francis COOPER from Portland, N. D. who strangely enough had composed a poem dedicated to the early settlers. It is very fitting indeed and having his permission would like to see it in print. Thanks, Francis.
Thanking the Eldens for their hospitality, we headed back to the Badger state, stopping a short time at Swanville, to drop off George.
Getting back to our farm, silo filling would now be the main project. Got a phone call from Joe PANGERL of Pine City, Minn. - was filling silo using his 28 hp Minneapolis. We couldn't pass that up, made the 40 mile trip in time for forenoon coffee. Got a chance to fire the engine and take pictures. It matters little to Emma Pangerl how many people are to be fed, but insists they eat on time.
September : 22 & 23, the Dresser Show. It too, was a success. About 85 operating gas engines, several steamers and threshers together with numerous tractors and a Model Railroad Locomotive displayed by Arvid ANDERSON from Frederic. Outstanding too, was Alois BERCHENS 1898 steam Locomobile taking on passengers for free. C. E. GILBERT again had his Birdsall portable belted to the Case agitator thresher. We were fortunate to have Mr. and Mrs. Lester ROOS from Geneseo, Illinois in our midst.
Filling our silo using the 50 Case on 14 inch Gehl ensilage cutter kept a good crew busy having fun. Nyle KARTH and Harry SCHACHTS were up from Eau Claire, Stanley PETERSON from Shell Lake, Dennis ANDRES from dauluth, together with some neighbors help, We did use my Waterloo Boy part time to keep '2 cylinder Stanley' happy and get more tape recordings and pictures.
Took in the Lakehead Threshing Bee, 15 miles west of Duluth. Them boys got lots of enthusiasm and some very rare equipment including a double cylinder Minneapolis steamer.
The reason that the Golden Wedding Anniversary is such a joyous occasion is that most couples are out of debt by then.