Resident of Antique Acres
About a week after the show, I found myself sitting on the steps
of the deserted bandstand. Looking out at the few idle pieces of
machinery still left on the parade grounds, the stillness was
almost suffocating. I pushed away the thoughts of the long cold
winter months yet ahead and allowed only the memories of the past
summer to slowly creep in.
Had it really been five months since that ‘freak’
snowstorm of April 9th? With the completion of sowing the oats,
April 7th, the Acres assumed that spring was officially here. But
it’s a well known fact that ‘changing her mind’ is a
woman’s prerogative and perhaps that is why it’s called
Mother Nature. Even more surprising than the snow, was the phone
call that morning from the Acres’ President, Andrew J. Fischels
of Waterloo, Iowa, not inquiring, as usual, to the depth of the
snow on the snow fence, but informing us that this time he had a
ringside seat from his ‘summer’ home at the Acres. Assuring
us that he wouldn’t have missed this for the world, we sat back
to listen while he relived other similar blizzards in his
life-time, (with perhaps the exception of the snowmobiles whizzing
by our front door). By the third day, the highway was cleared; and
beginning to run low supplies, we hastily shoveled the 100 feet to
freedom. And from the cheers when our feet finally touched the
asphalt, you would have thought we’d journeyed clean across
Alaska. So began the spring of ’73.
With the election of officers the first part of the year, by
spring there’s a whole boiler full of ideas ready to burst
forth and be heard. 1973 officers were Andrew J. Fischels of
Waterloo, Iowa, President, Cliff Johnston of Cedar Falls, Iowa,
Vice-President, and Harold Pries of Bremer, Iowa, Sec-Treas. They
certainly know their business and with the back-up of a good Board
of Directors, ideas were turned into accomplishments.
The members proudly display their new building they erected this
summer. It’s 32′ by 58′ measurements, plus cement
flooring, makes an excellent building for exhibitors during the
show and storage during the winter months. Mr. Harold Pries drew up
the plans and supervised the constructing, which was done by
various stockholders of the corporation. Mr. Don Gibbons of
Waterloo, Iowa did an excellent job with the wiring. Bulk heads of
our quansit buildings were used for the sides and the red elm cross
rafters were sawed and plained here at the Acres, greatly cutting
down expense. New sheet metal and ready-made rafters were purchased
for the roof. A duplicate building is on the ‘Improvement Ideas
List’ for ’74.
Due to the multitude of electrical outlets necessary during the
show, it was voted to up-grade the electrical system from 200 amps
to 500 amps. New outlets were installed to accommodate more
campers, with 100 amp lines going to each camper outlet. And with
the campers almost doubled this year, it was greatly needed. Mr.
John Ruth of Waverly, Iowa, built up the outlets and also installed
part of the service. The balance of the work was completed by a
contractor. The new electrical system also aided in the output from
the Acres’ Office-Sound Room and it was greatly essential, as
it took on the effect of a radio station this summer. Additional
music producing equipment was supplied by Mr. John Ruth; and
controls to switch instantly from microphone to any other piece of
equipment was installed. Mr. John Ruth, Mr. Bob Fischels of Cedar
Falls, Iowa, and Mr. Clair Bohan, electrician for H & H Machine
Tool Co. of Cedar Falls, Iowa, installed the equipment and arranged
the ground speakers for a more effective system. The Sound Room
took a full-time PA operator to function properly, but after taping
the plug sheet, inserting a musical tape cassette, and putting a
record on the spindle for future use, it wasn’t so much the
energy put forth, but the knowledge of just which button to push.
Well, perhaps it involved a little more than that. Mastering the
controls the first two days of the show was Mr. James Van Nice,
receiving his electronics training in the U.S. Navy, now stationed
in Italy. He’s one of our distant members and was present this
year with his new bride. Mr. Bohan took over the last two days.
They did a superb job in one of the more intricate aspects of
producing a good show.
Mr. Andrew Fischels restored the bandstand this summer with a
new roof, banisters, and paint job. And adorned with banners, it
certainly looked official!
Since lettering isn’t my only occupation, the closest I got
to a paint brush this summer was lettering the new billboard and
show-date signs. But the paint fumes are already beginning to
penetrate, as jobs for next year are being added to the list.
Advertising was again heavily accented this year with new show
bills and brochures of the Acres being sent out all over the nation
and handed out at our summer museum. The 1973 show buttons featured
a 110 Case and an aerial view of Antique Acres topped off the new
Adding a little fun to the work, Antique Acres attended various
centennials and events in our surrounding area. Supporting the
Acres at the Oelwein, Iowa Centennial was Mr. & Mrs. John
Sundermeyer of Readlyn, Iowa, with their 1929 Cadillac V8; John
Ruth’s float consisting of old-time washing machines, gas
engines, and even a well-pump, hooked up and working, the float was
complete with Mrs. Ruth, in full pioneer attire; and a Waterloo Boy
tractor owned by Kenny Cass of Dunkerton, Iowa. At the Dysart
Centennial, Mr. Andrew Fischels brought home a trophy in the
miscellaneous division with his Rumely 16-30 Oil Pull; while the
Ruth’s float took the trophy for 1st prize in that division.
The Ruth’s float also attended the Trayer Centennial and the
Waverly Rediculous Days.
Since variety’s the spice of life, and also believing in
getting the most for your money, a heavier breed of chicks was
chosen to adorn the Acres’ grounds this year, compliments of
Robert Fischels. As they were purchased early in the spring, before
the summer residents moved in, I was elected chief cook and bottle
warmer. And I’m proud to say, Mother and babes came through
with flying colors, all 25 of them. Taking my job a little too
seriously, I vowed these darling little balls of fluff would never
grace a table where I was present. But by the time September rolled
around and those red felons had delighted themselves more than once
on stripping my tomato and cucumber patch, I had no trouble
whatsoever looking them straight in the eye and visualizing them
sizzling away in the fry pan. But they had their revenge right to
the end, those blasted pin-feathers! We also had one Bantam rooster
and three hens which resulted in 27 baby chicks. So our freezers
are filled with vittles.
The Acres, consisting of 80 acres, was purchased for the nature
of the soil sandy. It can rain all night, but still will not
prevent a show from being put on the next day. With proper
fertilization, it is used as an overall farm operation. Besides the
35 acres of oats, corn is also grown, this year 28 acres. Although
the high moisture this summer prevented meeting the exceptionally
good crop of 72, with the high corn prices, it turned out better
than anticipated. The crops aid towards putting on a bigger and
better show each year.
About the time you think you’re never going to meet the busy
schedule and be ready for the first day of the show, members and
friends appear from all directions, machinery is lined up on the
grounds, and everything falls into place.
The Kruger Clan from Columbia, Missouri, in their newly painted
bus camper, christened ‘The Kruger Country Club’, arrived
again in the wee hours, but this year a little quieter, (due to a
new muffler). They again brought friends, the Persinger family, and
both families gave it their all. Jerry Rottinghaus also hitched a
ride and continued riding through the whole show, as he again found
himself official water-wagon boy.
If you happened to meet a bus camper heading towards Iowa with a
New Jersey accent, you’ll know it’s the Ray Fischels’
family. Ray can almost always be found glued to the Fischels and
Sons’ Wood Bros. Steam Engine & Wood Bros. Hummingbird
Threasher. He gave his stamp of approval on the engine as he found
the newly rebuilt throttle and governor really gave it snap.
Celebrating their wedding anniversary, and admitting he usually
forgot, he was prevented from making that mistake this year, as he
found their bus decorated that morning with about anything
available. So much for feeble excuses!
Out-of-state helpers you can always depend on include, Mr. Arnie
Slynde of Lyle, Minnesota, operating the Smolik Bros.’ 40-140
Reeves Compound Steam Engine; and Mr. George Hedke of Davis
Junction, Illinois, operating the Smolik Bros.’ 110 Case. With
Ray Smolik doing the steering, the Reeves, believed to be the
largest and only one left in existence today, hooked up to the
Smolik Bros.’ John Deere 14 bottom plow and really performed.
Plowing was also done with the 110 Case, Ray Smolik steering, and
the 14 bottom John Deere plow; and by Roy Harper with his four
bottom 16′ plow, averaging 3 mph. So, following the daily
parades, spectators were given a variation in the plowing division
this year. Roy Harper, with his duo, and John Sundermeyer, with his
Minneapolis Moline Tractor, completed the plowing this fall.
Good friends and always a great help are Mr. and Mrs. Art
Robinson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Mrs. Robinson is always
ready and willing to lend a hand in the Acres souvenior booth; and
Art inevitably draws a crowd around his display each year. This
time he brought with him a 1-3/4′ scale model of one of the
first John Deere Power Balers and a 1-3/4 ‘ scale model of a
Canadian standard gas engine. Art also runs his shingle saw, giving
out slabs for souveniors.
Almost a permanent fixture around the Acres is friend Frank
Williams of Finch ford, Iowa. He lends a hand with the shocking of
oats, threshing, sawmill, and is all-around handyman. He also
exhibits his Allis Chalmers tractor and buzz saw at the show.
Insuring himself more free time this year, Mr. Fischels
appointed a Show and Parade Committee consisting of Mr. Lou Kruger,
Mr. John Ruth, Mr. Derwood Heine of Bremer, Iowa, and Mr. Bernard
Skillen of Waterloo, Iowa. They did a great job keeping the events
moving and lining up the parade each day. And Mr. Kruger’s jeep
saved many tired steps.
Always game for trying new ways of improvement, the Acres
presented continuous movement in their parades this year. This
shortened the parade time considerably and left more time for other
activities. Mr. Shelby Bellinger of La Porte City, Iowa, served as
MC again this year and I assisted with the parade cards and tagging
the machinery. Each parade was headed off with as many complete
steam engine and threshing machine rigs as possible. These included
the Fischels & Sons’ 18 H.P. Wood Bros. Steam Engine and
30-56 Wood Bros. Hummingbird Thresher, a complete Iowa rig; a 20
H.P. Case Steam Engine, completely restored in ’72, owned by
Randy Schwerin of Sumner, Iowa, pulling a Case Separator with slat
stacker, owned by A. J. Lindeman of Waterloo, Iowa; and the
Acres’ 22 H.P. Avery Undermount Steam Engine (complete with
live mascot, compliments of Bill Fritze of Oelwein, Iowa) pulling
A. J. Lindeman’s 36-58 Avery Yellow Fellow Separator. Other
steam engines featured in the parade was a 16 H.P. Reeves Double
Cylinder Simple, owned by John Sundermeyer; a 20 H.P. Minneapolis
and a 20 H.P. Advance Rumely ‘Universal’, both owned by
Shelby Bellinger and son, Dean, of Waterloo, Iowa; a 22-70 Rumely
Thresher Engine, a Phoenix Log Hauler, the 110 Case, and the 40-140
Reeves Steam Engine pulling the John Deere 14 bottom plow, all
owned by the Smolik Bros, of Osage, Iowa. Since they are a vital
asset in the operation of a steam engine, we ‘snuck’ a
couple water-wagons in next. These were E. B. Crowell’s pulled
by the John Ruth 1936 Case R C Model tractor and Bernard
Skillen’s Avery pulled by his Case tractor. Looking like a
miniature steam engine was the Townsend Oil Tractor, owned by A. J.
Fischels and Mr. John Sundermeyer. You were allowed an instant
replay into the history of machinery as the more than fifty various
years and makes of tractors were paraded, These makes included John
Deere, Case, Massey Harris, Allis Chalmers, Farmall, Minneapolis
Moline, Galloway, McCormick Deering, and Hart Parr. Owning a
greater share of these, are Derwood Heine, primarily a Farmall man
Bernard Skillen, various makes Harold Pries, Minneapolis Moline
collection, Cliff Johnston, various makes, and A. J. Lindeman, Johr
Deere collection. Many of these pulled various pieces of farm
machinery. Along with this line-up, four beautifully restored
tractors were brought in by friends; a Farmall F-20, owned and
restored by Steve Sage of Denver, Iowa, for a 4-H project; a 1929
Case CC restored by Steve Sage of Denver Iowa, and a shop project
at school; a Massey Harris Challengei restored in 1972 by owner
Roger Beason of Lynnville, Iowa; and a John Deere 1935 Model A
restored and owned by Roger Beason. Mr. Harry Roeder of Bellevue,
Iowa exhibited his 20-35 oil pull; A. J. Fischels paraded his 16-30
Rumely oil pull; and the remaining six belonged to Mr. Stuart
Fenton of Waterloo, Iowa. A Rumely Model Oil Pull built in 1966, 5
H.P., was brought in by Howard and Irene Schultz of Wausan,
Wisconsin. So, this collection should offer something for
Again, one of the main attractions for all ages was the
threshing operation. And to make it even more interesting, not only
the engines, but tractors as well, participated. Besides the
Fishels’ Wood Bros. Steam Engine, John Sundermeyer’s Reeves
Steam Engine and John’s Minneapolis Farm Motor, (restoring
completed this year with a new cab, built and painted by the Harold
Pries family), and Derwood Heine’s McCormick Deering W30 took
their turns at threshing with the Fischels’ Wood
Bros. Hummingbird Thresher. Plans for next year are to have
two complete setups for threshing, enabling more machinery to
participate. Putting the icing on the cake, baling was done after
each load threshed. A Case wire-tie baler, owned by Derwood Heine
and Harold Pries, and a Case CC, owned by Steve Sage, started the
procedure each time, with John Sundermeyer’s New Holland baler
and Minneapolis tractor finishing up the job.
Six acres were saved for threshing and baling during the show,
and all six acres were threshed and baled, so it really kept the
boys a hoppin’, especially since it chose to rain them out on
Thursday. Most of the shocks were loaded and stored in the sheds
until show-time, but a few loads were left in the fields to be
loaded during the show days. This gave a more authentic effect of
threshing days and allowed visitors a view of the total
It seemed that Halloween came a little early to the Acres, as
the Gremlins made nightly raids, specializing on the steam engines
and their engineers. One of our top engineers from Illinois found
it a little difficult to fire-up one morning, between the blanket
stuffed in his chimney and the water in his fuel can. And by the
time he figured out just what was wrong, he’d missed breakfast
and had to drive way into town to eat. It just wasn’t his day.
Others found tools hidden, cabs completely circled with twine or
tissue, engine wheels tied together, a blood-shot eye on the
logger, (perhaps from all the polluted air?), and even engineers
tied in tents. One engineer, from New Jersey, took precautions and
chained his engine up one night, but then forgot where he put the
key. To add salt to their wounds, Mr. Bohan ran a tape on all of
their misfortunes to the public each day. Thanks to the Gremlins,
we had engineers all over the place, at the crack of dawn,
preparing their engines for that days’ show.
On the brighter side, and perhaps an aid in soothing those
ruffled engineers, the Acres presented live music from two
outstanding groups. A gospel group of young adults from the KNWS
Radio Station, a mid-American inspirational network station of
Waterloo, Iowa. They did a beautiful job entertaining daily and on
Sunday afternoon performed on the bandstand, 16 in all, plus
musical equipment. The other group hailed from the Huisman’s
Music Store of Parkersburg, Iowa. They featured an assortment of
string instruments and proudly stated that they were all in their
70’s and loved every minute of it. We hope both groups will be
back at our ’74 show.
Everyone was on their toes and looking pretty, as a local
photographer made the rounds during the show. He got some terrific
shots and some will appear on the new postcards at the Acres’
souvenior booth next year.
Speaking of pretty pictures, that’s just what it was when
the Smoliks’ two huge engines, the 110 Case and the 140 Reeves,
teamed up side-by-side and hooked up to the Baker Fan and the
Proney Brake. They really sat there and purred. There seemed to be
a steady flow of engines and tractors all four days, waiting there
turn to hook up and feed their masters’ egos. Lou Kruger is in
charge of operating the Proney Brake.
The gas engine line-up seems to grow yearly and there’s
promise of additional ones for ’74 already. The largest number
displayed are owned by E. B. Crowell, Waterloo, Iowa, John Ruth,
Derwood Heine, Cliff Johnston, and Don Gibbons, Waterloo, Iowa.
Outside exhibitors include Kenny Cass of Dunkerton, Iowa, with a
very rare Crabb engine; Bob Buck of Grundy Center, Iowa; six
belonging to Harold Beason of Lynnville, Iowa; eight belonging to
Glenn Boggess of Charles City, Iowa; and a nice selection owned by
Merles C. Soules of Jesup, Iowa, including a John Deere 3 H.P., an
Ottawa cut-off saw complete with Ottawa gas engine, and he also
brought a Massey Harris tractor and a Birdsell Clover Hauler.
Donated to Antique Acres this fall and delivered by Ray Fischels
was a 1 1/2 H.P. International gas engine, donated by Quinton Baker
of Salem, New Jersey. This engine will receive a new paint job and
lettering for the next show.
A little farther down the line is the lumber division, where
there is action from every angle. Mr. Leonard Flynn of Toledo, Iowa
was present to operate the sawmill owned by Stuart Fenton of
Waterloo, Iowa, who lent a helping hand, along with Mr. Cleo Howard
of Dike, Iowa. The engines that powered the mill were the
Acres’ Avery, the Smolik’s Rumely, and the Bellinger’s
Rumely. Art Robinson with his scale model shingle saw and Cliff
Johnston with his regular size shingle saw put out a heap of cedar
shingles. They sure won’t have to worry about those pesky
moths! Don Gibbons exhibited his Ottawa drag cut-off saw operated
from power take-off. This is attached to his John Deere B tractor
and he demonstrated its use cutting slabs.
John Sundermeyer’s really been putting that Jolly Gray Giant
of his, (his Minneapolis Farm Motor), to the test this year.
Besides the threshing, he’s hooked it up to the Proney Brake
and did better than in ’72, and even belted up to the sawmill
to prove that it would hold its own.
Honorable mention goes to the collection of threshers, corn
shellers, feed mills, and corn grinders belonging to A. J.
Lindeman; and, also, to the large amount of horsedrawn equipment
owned by Cleo Howard.
New equipment this year included an International disc plow,
rarely used in this area, owned by John Sundermeyer; and a Waterloo
Boy tractor owned by A. J. Lindeman, purchased from Forrest Huer,
Cedar Falls, Iowa. These will be completely restored for the next
Antique automobiles owned by members were John Sundermeyer’s
1929 Cadillac V8 and Harold Pries’ 1927 Erskine 6 cylinder.
These are restored like new.
The ladies were spared the task of preparing supper one evening,
as they stuffed their husbands and children with the sweet corn
furnished by the Persinger family. It was cooked in a cast iron
kettle, heated by the Wood Bros. Steam Engine. Delicious!!
To the delight of the young, and perhaps the relief of the not
so young, Pokey Pete offered a tour of the Acres.
The new building didn’t quite hold all of the exhibitors
that were here to sell, trade, chat, and join in the fun.
Specializing in antique dishes were, Henry Kaiser of Ionia, Iowa,
Gordon Wilson of Haines City, Florida, Frank Lansing of Haines
City, Florida, Dottie Tobin of Charles City, Iowa, Lavonne’s
Dug-Out of Waverly, Iowa, and Beverly Egbers of Uehling, Nebraska.
Dan Gibbons was here with a wide variety of antiques, Waterloo,
Iowa; Milford Kelvig of Waterloo, Iowa, offered a variety of wooden
bird houses for those feathered friends; Bob Gray of Eldora, Iowa
had an assortment of toy tractors; Harold Ashley of Randalia, Iowa,
featured decoupage pictures; Diane Trumbauer of Denver, Iowa, had a
display of hobby crafts; Car Newman of Rockford, Iowa, with a big
selection of flea market items; a beautiful display of handmade
horses and wagons by Richard and Ray Eighmey of Waterloo, Iowa;
tractor decals by Jack Maple of Rushville, Indiana; Dora Buss was
in charge of the Minnesota Woolen Mills booth, she’s from
Evansdale, Iowa; Glenn Reed of Evansdale Iowa, with his honey
sales; Reeves Woodworking of Waverly, Iowa, an interesting display
as he showed you the entire procedure, step by step; and our own
Acres’ ladies offering about anything in the line of good used
clothing and items at their huge rummage show. It was really a good
variety of exhibitors this year.
Between the excellent variety they offer and the exceptional
business they do, I think the Acres had better consider expanding
their souvenir booth next year. Their assortment of magazines
include current and back issues of the Engineers and Engines,
Iron-Men Album, and Gas Engines, subscriptions are available. They
also offer a good variety written on these ages, including
cookbooks, a big seller. Souvenir items are aplenty with jewelry,
watch-fobs, engineer caps, Antique Acres T-shirts, and handmade
items for the ladies. Something for everyone! And to add to all of
this, there’s a second souvenir booth offering ceramics and
handmade items, with Mrs. John Ruth in charge. Whether it was meal
time or just in-between snacks, the eating tent was well occupied.
This was again managed by the very capable Kentucky Fried Chicken
And so, we come to the closing of the show, sad, but essential.
Although rainy weather greeted us the first day and a half of the
show, blue skies lead to a happy ending. We bid tearful goodbyes
and receive promises of return trips for the ’74 show.
We’re left with only our memories of a good and fulfilling
And now, I sit and gaze at the imprints in the sand track, soon
to be vanished by the coming weather, the slate wiped clean for
another year. But already ideas are popping for the ’74 show,
and leave it to the Acres to come up with the unexpected!