Engineer Extraordinaire

| May/June 1996

3982 Ballard Avenue Cincinnati, Ohio 45209

Could Teddy Roosevelt have met Doris Lindenmier, his famous saying might have been, 'Speak softly but run a big engine!' For over forty years, Doris has done exactly that. She has exhibited Reeves engines and a Port Huron at threshing reunions in Illinois and Iowa.

Recently, I sent Doris a letter stating, 'Dad and Mom started attending the shows at Pontiac shortly after they were begun, and, as a nurse for the reunions and an expert engineer, you were a Pontiac celebrity I thought of interviewing you and composing a story for the Album.' Soon after, Doris left this message on my answering machine: 'I received your complimentary letter, and I would be glad to invite you over.' 'Over' meant an eight-hour drive from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Cherry, Illinois (population 550)a journey from a hilly river valley to the flat prairies. From my car window, I witnessed miles and miles of some of this nation's richest farmland, and, in my mind's eye, I watched the ghosts of plowing engines crossing and re-crossing the plains.

With well-spoken grace, Doris welcomed me into her home decorated with drawings and photographs of engines. She asked, 'Were you at Pontiac on Sunday this year?' 'Yes,' I replied, wondering what was coming. 'Did you see the Reeves go out and rescue the Case during the plowing demonstration?' As the owner of a 65-horsepower engine from Racine, Wisconsin, I had to swallow my pride long enough to acknowledge that her 20-horse-power Canadian Reeves, run by grandson Nick Lord, indeed had replaced a Case which had become immobilized. Doris laughed, 'We've always had a little rivalry with Case. It's all part of the fun all in good fun! Really, the Case couldn't be blamed. It was missing a few of its cleats, and the driver wheels couldn't develop enough traction.'

Glad she admitted the handicap which hindered the Case, I accepted the offer of a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. Ornamental dinner plates commemorating the 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1977 Stephenson County shows lined the wall above the cabinets, and a silhouette of a threshing scene painted on a varnished board completed the decor. In chatting while the coffee cooled, I learned why Doris speaks with such pleasing precision. Growing up in nearby Tonica, Doris attended 'country one-room schools where you had ten or twelve students' and a high school where 'there were seventy-five students in the top four grades.' With such small classes, each student benefited from personal attention. Doris exclaimed, 'I had good teachers! You need a strong basis to get along in this world. My teachers gave me that!'

Doris graduated from nursing school at St. Mary's in La Salle. She served as a nurse at the Illinois Valley Community Hospital, became House Supervisor, then returned to staff nursing on the medical floor. She also earned a place in American steam-engine history by being both an engineer and a nurse at the Central States Threshermen's Reunion, one of the oldest steam rallies. Doris explained, 'Fred Hassler, who became a leader at Pontiac, was a neighbor of my parents. He knew me. The Pontiac show hired me as a nurse.' What Doris modestly left unsaid was that the Central States Reunion could not have found a better nurse.