| January/February 1957

New Rockford, North Dakota

New Rockford Flying Service

Since I do not often see letters from up this way, I am writing a few lines.

I am not a 'Johnny-come-lately' as a steam 'nut'. My first memory of steamers dates back to about 1907 or 1908 when I was four or five years old. A rig pulled into our pasture to do some threshing and I can still see the bright red wheels of the engine and the separator, bright red with yellow wheels and trim. It was a Gaar Scott outfit, nearly new. A little later I was allowed to get real close to the rig while they were threshing, and that was really a thrill. The engine puffing up the stack and rocking a little with the motion, the gurgling hiss when the fireman started the injector (of course I did not know what it was then), the smell of hot oil and smoke already fascinated me. Of course the engineer was the most important man there to me.

I am not sure if my ambition to be come an engineer started right then, but at least that soon became my ambition. My dad knew everything and could do anything, almost, but even he did not run an engine. Somehow several thresher catalogs came into my possession (I still have them) and I really studied them, when I was older I often took them along on horseback while herding cattle and sometimes would be absorbed in one of them while the cattle got into something I was supposed to be keeping them out of.

Well, I first operated an engine in about 1920 (steam was already on its way out). The engine was a 36 hp. M. Rumely double built in about 1909. We fired straw, my fireman was even younger than I was. We managed to do a fairly creditable job of keeping the engine running. I must have put in about twelve seasons on this engine sometimes running others when our run was finished. In 1924 I put in 25 days on an old Case in Saskatchewan. I still have my provisional engineer certificate. Altogether I run engines eighteen seasons till in 1939 flying became my business instead of the sideline it had been up till that time.


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