Courtesy of Gil Johnson, Rt. 1, Box 245, Frederic, Wisconsin 54837 (see Dairyland Driftings)
Somehow in the passing of events and duties I lost step with my freelance column, consecutively speaking. Thanks to my friends who have written or otherwise prompted me to keep scribbling. Before going to Old Threshers meet at Mt. Pleasant we traded a Waterloo Boy tractor for a Rambler Station Wagon and so far are satisfied with our trade. The Midwest Threshers which started some seventeen years ago hasn't ceased to grow. In 1966 another large steel building to house antique farm machinery was added. This building also houses a 12 x 36 Murry Corliss 100 hp engine, which was operating under steam from a traction engine. The Midwest Railroad came up with a three trucker 80 ton Shay. It was often used to spell off the old Cabbage stack locomotive in hauling passengers over the tracks that circle the grounds. This Shay is most interesting and a rare item, purchased from a logging concern in California. Geo Christian again rode with us to this reunion and slept in 'Our Iron-Men' subscription tent. George meets old friends from down Illinois way as well as the Dakotas where he has formerly lived. One of these men whom I had a nice visit with was Edwin Rosenthal from New Douglas, Ill. He showed me some very interesting pictures when steam power was in its heyday, and gave me a nice enlargement of a 35 hp double Minneapolis that he fired at Pamistrom, North Dakota in 1914. I now have this picture framed. (See Iron-Men Album, Jan.-Feb. 1958, page 5.) I was helping with the threshing and baling activities of this show. Here I met Bertha Briggs from Baxter, Iowa. She had come to see the 24 x 42 Huber Jr. Thresher with Langdon feeder, slat stacker and measuring buckets. This machine was purchased new by her father George Christner at Webster, Wis. in 1920. Thanks to the many willing helpers so necessary to keep a show going. One ' young enthusiast that is sure to be a helper at this reunion is David Schantz from Rt. 2, Washington, Iowa. In picture one he is tying wires at the Eli baler while Bob McLaren from Manilla, Iowa does the feeding. In the next picture David is emptying the measuring buckets on the 1896 Russell thresher.
Geo says if he found a thousand dollars he'd give it back to the owner if he was a poor man. (Of course he figures anyone losing that much wouldn't be a poor man.) Then he was telling about the Swede who drowned trying to put a cellar under his fish house.
The next event we attended was at Beldonville, Wis. Here was a lot of activity and a nice display of old equipment. The steam powered drag-saw in the picture is owned and operated by Harold Churchill from Elmwood, was certainly an attraction. Harold is firing the boiler while Don Fern of Hammond looks on. Working the sawyers lever is Harold's grandson. In the center of the picture is my good friend Wayne Cochrane from River Falls who is back on his feet after a serious car accident. He feels very fortunate to be able to attend steam shows again.
On Sept. 19 Alex Edgar from Ayr, Ontario, Canada and his brother Bob from Montreal stopped over enroute west to visit steam buffs and take in some threshing Bees. Their collection of 'old iron' includes a 20 hp George While steamer, many tractors, one rather rare, a 12-24 Beaver, and many gas engines. Sure enjoyed their visit and it is our hope to attend 'their' show someday at Milton, Ontario.
Come Sept. 25 our annual trek to Lakehead Threshers meet near Duluth, Minn. These boys have gone all out to put on an outstanding show in the few years they have collected and have some rare equipment including a double cylinder Minneapolis steamer belonging to Oliver Haltli. One of their happy-go-lucky promoters is Nick Watry pictured hand feeding the over-shot Sterling thresher, powered by Warren Doan's 6 hp Frick portable. Can't tell you how old Nick is but he's just a boy when the show is in session. We were pleasantly surprised on Sept. 29 when Earnest Hoffers from Toledo, Ohio stopped in with their Chev. pickup camper. Their son Phillip who was stationed at K I Sawyer Airforce Base in Michigan had the week-end off to accompany them into Minnesota and Wisconsin. Enjoyed their slides taken on various trips, some taken in three dimensional.
Next show in line was at Rollag, Minn. This was our first trip that we parked on the grounds and slept in our Rambler. The parking area amidst the trees was filled with campers, everyone parked in his own carefree way. Here we got a real taste of old style western threshing. At 5 AM, from remote parts of the grounds, could be heard a steam whistle, and soon thereafter someone clowning, crowed like a rooster. From then on workers and guests were steadily making their way to the 'cook-shack' for that 'all you can eat' breakfast at a very modest price. The neat and spacious log museum with its comforting fireplace has been completed and additional sheds built to house the added equipment which includes some very large and rare items. They now have a 120 hp double Rumely steamer #6541 which was bought by Richard Grosz of Moorehead, Minn, from Mobridge, South Dakota, and has had an excellent restoration job at Elmer Larsons shop at Moorehead. It is pictured on the cover of their 1966 Reunion Booklet. Pictured with a 30-60 Russell tractor is my good friend Ingvard Haugen from Hannaford, North Dakota, who drove this tractor in the parades during the show. To his left is Elmer Butze from Moorehead who has done the fancy and artistic hand painting shown on the 40-80 Gar Scott tractor, as well as the lettering on many other tractors. O. H. Loberg from Thief River Falls, Minn, was in charge of a 20 hp Huber #7181. It was my privilege to steer it for him through the parade. On the route through the timber we had to stop and rustle up wood to make more steam. Good thing about a Huber, any wood length goes and we finished the parade with plenty of steam. My spouse envied Virginia Osten from Pelican Rapids who was driving a Massey Harris 4 wd in the parade. You see we have such a tractor and Alice handles it very well, and has driven these 4 wheel drives in parades at different shows, namely Archie Stevens, Mt. Pleasant and at the Duluth thresh bee. One could hardly visit the grounds at Rollag without meeting up with Selmar Most. He is a local clown in his own rights and spreads much good will and happiness to this reunion. He might be found in a booth selling buttons or booklets, registering guests or he could very aptly take someone for a cup of that good Norwegian coffee. Somewhat concealed in the booth Selmer had a cardboard box about a foot square with a yellow paper napkin the bottom and therein he kept 2 'beavers' that with a slight prodding you could look at for free. Such was the setting when Harvey and Esther Obrecht from Thor, Iowa happened along. Thus curiosity ends in a good laugh when you see two Canadian nickles, which have a beaver minted on one side.
On our way home from Rollag we stopped at St. Stephens, Minn, to witness another thresh bee in full session on the W. F. Vauk farm. Here too was steam threshing using wing feeders. A Birdsell clover huller in action, powered by a dandy 8 hp steam engine built by H.P. Lahr of St. Joseph. Log sawing with an 80 hp Case was a steady pace on some sizeable logs. An unusual attraction was Vauks 35 hp. Ingeco gas engine belted to a 28' thresher. Here too, on display were many antiques.
About mid October, Rudy and Jim Rathert from Forman, North Dakota, stopped in for a brief visit. Their list of antiques includes 3 steamers, 21 tractors, 12 gas engines 7 restored cars and a motorcycle all prior to 1915, plus numerous music boxes dating back to the turn of the century.
The world is full of willing people: some are willing to work, others are willing to let them.
Some say every family should have 3 children: if one turns out to be a genius, the other two can support him.