Farm Collector

It’s Like Magic, Antique Engines

9043 N. 70th St. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53223

It’s like magic! The visual image of long ago. The memories
dance in a row in my head. ‘PfouffPfouff Pfouff’! Can you
hear the steam engines? ‘Pfouff’! The throttling governors?
The intermittent sounds of the hit and miss?

The sounds echo of the past, the Spirit of Inventions. A time of
coming together.

A wonderful experience happened in the summer of 1991. A chance
to go to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, for the Old Threshers Reunion. The
images still dance in my mind’s eye. The rows and rows of steam
engines. Tractors, more than I could count. Section after section
of engines of every type. Pure excitement. Volumes of energy arise
and flow throughout the grounds. You see it on everyone’s face.
Such fun! Such excitement! What a thrill to be a witness to the
whirl of a busy day at an engine show.

But the story doesn’t start here. It started a long time
ago, before Mt. Pleasant.

To help pass the time during a long recovery period following
serious surgery, my father bought tubes of colorful paints for me.
I had always been creative, but I never dreamed that I had the gift
of painting. My dad . not only bought me one tube of paint, he
bought several tubes, in fact, sets of paints! I can hear him now,
‘Come on, Honey, paint’! I really did not want to. I would
try and the acrylic paints would dry and become hard. But Dad was
insistent with his gentle persuasion not to give up.

Three months later, my father died of lung cancer. Three days
before he died, I finished my first painting! I rushed to the
hospital with such excitement and joy. Dad was too weak to speak
but he squeezed my hand, and tears were in his eyes.

Dad’s gift was beyond description! I was to become an
artist; to meet people and experience all that the world had to
offer! A fresh new look to the world that is commonly familiar.

My healing process continued and my life took many turns.

I started painting wildlife but it just didn’t quite feel
right, as if an element were missing.

Then a friend introduced me to the antique engines. It happened
one hot summer day in Sussex, Wisconsin. There were rows and rows
of clatter and bang. There were children. There were adults who
looked like children having a wonderful time with their engines.
Words are a mere, inadequate expression of the energy that is
experienced at an engine show. I couldn’t get enough of it. I
started to mingle more and more with these interesting people,
people from all walks of life, sharing stories, laughing and
learning about these wonderful pieces of equipment. As one friend
said to me, ‘Why don’t you give up the fluff (referring to
wildlife paintings), and paint some ‘hardware’?’

As if it were to be, I started to paint the antique engines.

Florence, my bunny, became my traveling companion. Soon we were
going to all of the local shows, displaying my art work of early
gas and steam engines.

My poster is something very special! Many pieces of my new found
friends’ equipment appear in it, with the theme of
‘horsepower.’ There is Ivan and Betty Baxter’s 1912
Rumely with the railroad lantern for a headlight, and Wes
Seyfert’s Baker steam engine. Scott Clausen owns the 4 HP
Monitor and 5 HP Stickney. The early Ford pickup truck is owned by
Ed and Lois Bureta. Gene and Barb Beck own the 12 HP Associated
engine. Also featured were the McCormick Deering and Allis Chalmers

I would like to give a special thanks for all the help Michael
Page and Matt Spors of Classic Impressions, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
gave me with publishing my posters. Thanks also to my Mom, Jean
Robertson, and my friend Roger Fronek of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for
all their help and encouragement. And thanks to Kevin Nolan, who
introduced me to the wonderful world of early steam and gas
engines, and Bob Lewis for all his help. Finally, ‘thank
you’ to all of my new found friends that I’ve met along the
way. Perhaps you will see me at one of the shows; come up and say

  • Published on Jan 1, 1994
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