Illinois Low Water Club

| July/August 1991

17837 Lindenwood Road, Lindenwood, Illinois 61049

Sounds like quite a name, doesn't it? I don't remember when the name was coined but I do remember how and why. We members figure it's just about the best club we belong to. Let me explain.

Round about the second time we took our Nichols to the Sycamore show my father-in-law, Howard, bought a camper so he and Joe could sleep at the grounds. They had already met other 'Nichols' men through Howard and Harlan Wade of Wisconsin. When Joe talked to Wade's about getting a casting made for our smokestack, they gave him Paul Andermann's name and phone number. Paul had just got one made for his Nichols. Paul then introduced us to Walter Eikenberry, Larry Marek, and Muggs Yackley. It didn't take long that first night before all the guys migrated to a central campsite to sit and visit. They spent the evening discussing the day's events and planning how to do the needed engine adjustments the next day. Well, they had such a good time visiting with their fairly' new steam friends, the evening meetings went on all three nights of the four day show. To their credit, the men did introduce their wives to each other during the daylight hours. Before long the womenfolk were visiting right along too.

During the months between shows the friendships grew. Plans for engine restoration were shared, discussed, challenged, and tried. Show time rolled around again the following August and campfire meetings started again. By now people knew each other a little better and some good-natured kidding around started. With the wives and kids showing up during the day, we needed some place to set up the picnic baskets. We needed a picnic table and chairs. We got one. Well, that table soon developed into the central meeting place for meals, breaks and campfire get togethers. By now we added more faces to the group; Jon and Kim Gould, Charlie and Joanne Fruit and Denny and Kathy Flink. Everyone seemed to appreciate having an area away from the bustle of the show and close to the engines where we could rest and visit.

Some of our families included quite young members at that time. Occasionally we were able to find sitters and the gals got to stay overnight too. Pretty soon we discovered the musical talents of everyone and the campfires developed into sing-a-longs, story swapping and show discussions. About the third or fourth year the campfire grew. Lots of other campers enjoyed the fellowship time. The Holcomb family decided our group was worth visiting in the evenings. This was why we kept coming. The fun we had teasing each other and pulling some kind of joke on someone got to be a major objective.

More steam engine enthusiasts joined the group over those years. Gary Hennig, Milt Stein and Henry Fruit come to mind. A half-scale Case showed up that year. No one knew the guy but he seemed real friendly. Someone from the group asked him if he wanted to bring his toy engine and 'come play with the big boys'. So Jack Oltman of Minonk, Illinois joined us. Jack was a great hit with the kids, well, maybe I should say the half-scale Case was a great hit and Jack was patient enough to put up with them. Jack introduced Ernie Gerdes to the group a few years later.


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