As an example of how the Grand Old Steam Engines can be Friendship Builders, let me relate a delightful experience my wife and I had a few years ago.
It was late afternoon, July 6, 1954, when Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Enders stopped at our home and invited us to join them on a trip to Franklin, Illinois, to attend the Rees Steam Engine Day. It was soon agreed that if the Enders would stay over night with us, we would go along with them the next day. So after 24 hours and 310 miles, we arrived at the lovely Rees homestead where we found considerable activity as old engines and threshers were being made ready for the big show on the next day.
As Heaven was beginning to touch the earth with rest, word came from the house that supper was ready. Very suddenly we were aware of the gracious hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Rees. After some introductions and the renewal of acquaintances, we found ourselves around a gorgeous and heavily laden table with food to the likings of the hungriest of old threshermen.
Around that bounteous table were: our hosts, Milford and Vella Rees of Illinois; the late Henery J. Luck-singer, affectionately remembered as Father Time, of Missouri; Ray and Emma Ernst of Iowa; Gilbert and Catherin Enders of Ohio; and Inez Plasterer and I of Indiana. There we were -- five men from five states. We were brought together by the Grand Old Steam Engines. In the science of chemistry, a substance that causes by its mere presence an action to take place but is not itself affected is known as a catalytic agent or a catalyst. So the presence of the steam engines at the Rees home were catalysts to bring together five men from five states, to provide them with delightful fellowship, and to make them friends for the rest of their days.
The five men from five states taken July 9th, 1954, the morning after the Reese Steam Engine Day. There are six in the picture as Mr. Floyd Carter of Monmouth, Illinois, had just returned the big Avery from the Show Grounds to the Reese yard in time to step into the picture. Both Mr. Enders and Mr. Reese agreed that their favorite engine, the old Advance, should stand in the background. The men from left to right are: Ray Ernst, Iowa; Henry J. Lucksinger, Missouri; Floyd Carter, Illinois; Eiffel Plasterer, Indiana; Gilbert Engers, Ohio; and Milford Reese, Illinois.
The conversations around the table were exceedingly interesting and were charged with keen anticipation of the next day's activities. After supper the men continued to chat under the big shade trees in the front yard while the women speedily cleared the table and washed the dishes. Soon we heard the music of a piano and the lovely voices of our women singing together. Certainly the catalysis of the steam engines was welding a bond of friendship among four women from four states.
July 8 was the big day. The exhibition was a delightful panorama of steam activity and threshing and all sorts of exciting amusements even by a team of mules running off with a load of oats sheaves. It was a great show chucked into one day, free to all, where engineers and helpers donated their services, and where the profits from the concessions were given to charities.
On the next morning, we were again guests of the Reeses. And again five men from five states and four women from four states were eating together.
In all that I saw and heard at the Rees home, around the table or at the reunion I saw no one angry, I heard no profanity, I heard no demands with threats, I heard no plotting against the Government, I did not even hear an unkind word said of any one. But I did see, by the catalysis of the Grand Old Steam Engines, several thousand boys and girls, men and women having a wonderful time watching the various performances. I saw old men - just boys grown older but boys still at heart -having the time of their lives playing with their toys, giant engines of yesteryear. I could not but think that the Heavenly Father has pleasure watching His boys playing with their toys, not quarreling or fighting, but playing as good boys should.
People that like the old steamers are naturally folks that like to look back on the good things of the past. They are mindful of the great American way of free enterprise and industry. They are appreciative of their heritage of genius and invention, and their birthright of honor and character. And they are humble and honest minded enough to believe in God and the sufficiency of His omnipotent Providence. Thus they have the basis of common interests that make for delightful and enduring friendships. When they once know each other they are friends.
Because the Grand Old Steam Engines are doing such a colossal and magnificent job of bringing good people together, they are great friendship builders and they are indeed Grand Old Steam Engines.