Lindenwood Road, Lindenwood, Illinois 61049
Well, it finally happened again. It took three and a half years, but I finally 'got to ride along' on one of those trips to Michigan last January. It was no small task getting everything arranged on the home front in order to go. God love her, my mom tackled our three boys from Saturday morning until Monday night. She deserves the medal of bravery.
Now I'm not complaining, 'cause they did let me go, but I more than paid my dues getting there. While I was taking the carload of boys and boys' 'weekend-at-Grandma's' paraphernalia to Mom's, John Haley arrived at our place rarin' to get to Michigan. Of course a body needs a cup of coffee before going back out in the cold, so Joe and John sat down at the table and started talking steam over a cup. Now John is quite a collector of steam stuff no matter how big, like his 24 Minnie or how small, like his postcards or pins. When I finally got back, there he and Joe were pouring over old steam catalogs and smoke box door decorations.
With the trunk now empty, it was time to load up and head out. As I was traipsing in and out of the kitchen, carrying suitcases and snow gear and 'cookie-care-packages for Jim Schrock', I decided that coffee sure smelled good. I asked Joe to get me a cup as I headed out the door with another arm load of stuff. When I got back those two had moved into the living room looking at more steam things. (I guess I'd better mention I also noticed Joe had finished doing the dishes for me, too!) Next thing I know Joe asks if there's anything else to load. I say'' No''. He says 'Let's go!' I still didn't get my coffee. A-a-w-w-w.
Now comes the real test of fire. Joe: 'Did you remember to bring ?' Me: 'Yes'. Joe: 'I bet you forgot------'. Me: 'You didn't tell me to bring!' John's just sitting there grinning. He's a great guy to take on a trip. Thinks a lot like Joe does, (oh no), has a lot of good stories to tell and isn't afraid to talk. By the end of the trip up, there were times you couldn't tell who came up with the new topic first between those two. I should have remembered I was starting out out-numbered. Poor-little-'ol-me endured six hours of being picked on. All so I could go along on the Michigan trip.
I thought for sure I'd gain some help from my Michigan friends in the battle of words when we got there. No such luck; no sympathy and even a few more good-natured jabs at my being there. That was my greeting in Mason. Well, I tell you, that was it! As far as I was concerned, everyone for himself and anyone was fair game now. If there was going to be an opportunity to get a well chosen word or two in, I was goin' to do it.
We made it to Mason by 4 P.M. John and Jim Schrock greeted us at Kingman Engineering, their shop. Everyone started doing what comes naturally, visiting and swapping stories. Joe and Jim headed out to the car and came back in the shop with the 'excuse' for this whole trip, the governor from our Nichols. Jim started tearing into it, they all started talking mechanics, the B.S. got deeper, I got a soda pop and found a chair. This is why I wanted to come along on the Michigan trip?
After one of those 'all you can eat' Sunday breakfasts the next morning, we headed back to the shop to look around at the 'goodies' John has accumulated. John Haley made some purchases while there. Joe left the governor soaking in cleaner 'cause Jim wanted to do something else to it and he found something to make a bigger pulley from. I found a chair and a cup of coffee. (Sounds like I sit a lotno comments, you guys). Pretty soon the door opened and in walked Jim with Harry Woodman see. Now this is why I wanted to ride along to Michigan. To see my friends.
I'm sure many of you read Larry Mitchell's article about 'Pinky' a few months back. I agree, Harry's a man I've grown to love like family and I'm beginning to really appreciate what I've learned from him. Now that I'm hopefully getting a little wiser, I try to pay more attention to the stories he tells. How many of you have kicked yourself over the last few years because with all our modern electronic do-dads, you haven't recorded some older person's recollections of the past? I've personally sat in on conversations with Louie Johnson, Vince Deutsch, Floyd King, Herman Hintsche, and Lester Lindenmeyer, to name a few. I remember listening to arguments, friends bickering and a lot of good natured agitating that had us rolling with laughter. I was too young at the time to realize what I was privileged to be witnessing. If you really think about it, those are the times you remember most. All the fun things that happened at the show. We 'younger' ones are making our own steam history with our shows now and maybe we are getting a little better at recording the events, but please don't you wait too long catching the last generations' memories in your neighborhood.
Speaking of shows, we got invited to attend a show meeting that Sunday out at Lee Clark's place. Now there's an experience anyone involved in a steam club should do; go to another club's meeting and just spectate. True to form those Michigan guys and gals treat you like family. Not only do they invite you in, they feed you and make sure you're comfortable. Doesn't take long after the meeting starts to see that those problems that come along are common to other clubs as well as yours. You know the ones: problems with traffic, problems at the gate, problems with parking, problems with the flea market, etc. etc. same little annoyances found at every other show. Problems which will always be there, so you might as well make the best of it, work together and have a little fun at the same time.
Keep in mind, it is the fun that everyone remembers. So take heart all you shows, when you're in the final months of show planning and you begin to wonder if it's all worth the trouble, think about why steam shows started in the first place. I feel they started with people who had a common interest in steam engines and wanted a good reason to get together with their friends, to have some fun. I just can't imagine that the first show founders ever really thought there would be so many important issues to resolve each year. (Boyget off the soapbox, Dawn!)
You would figure after nearly 24 hours of steam talk we'd be talked out, right? No way. We all pile into vehicles and head over to Jane and Lange Sommerville's near Mason. Don't ask me how we got there. Those Michigan roads go every which way and at crazy angles to boot. We made it, though. Harry took up residency by the wood stove and everyone started talking steam again. It got to be a joke with Jodie (Tim Sommerville's fiancee) and me how the men always migrated to a corner of the building to talk. So when Jane came out the three of us womenfolk chased the guys out of one corner and proceeded to solve the age old problems women have with men. Didn't take too long either!
Sommerville's have an indescribable building that houses their three Advance engines and their shop. It was the perfect place to sit with Harry and get his voice on tape. Everyone talked until nearly midnight, Harry included. He talked so much, I ran out of tape. I made him promise to do it again for me when I came back. There, now I have my own 'excuse' to go back to Michigan.
Monday morning we had breakfast in Mason before starting home. Home via of Jean and Graham Sellers'. No trip to Michigan for us would be complete without a stop at Coldwater. It gave me a chance to get some more pictures of Graham's restoration on his 110 Case. That's one farm that seems to grow another steam engine in the front yard every time I stop by. We were able to visit awhile, see some real interesting video of their September steam up and eat another marvelous Michigan meal. (Wow, can Jean cook!)
Well, it was time to really head for home. I was looking forward to another five hours of being picked on. Contrary to the way it sounds, I was glad they 'let me come along.' The ride home gave Joe, John and I a chance to rehash all the things we had seen and heard. We're making plans to get together with other friends and put some of those old 8mm movies and slides on video. Hopefully we can get the narration done by the fellows who were there. And guess what They said I could 'go along' again They just won't tell me when.