‘They’re having some trouble belting that undermount to
the Prony brake.’ ‘Put your double Rumely on the teeter
board.’ ‘Joe, let’s get that Keck on the Baker fan’
…. Yes, to you old-timers that language is well understood. To
one who traveled the Reunion Circuit for the first time is was a
strange but fascinating lingo.
With this came my baptism from showers of vaporized carbon and
the sweet aroma of oil saturated steam. Then the thrill of the
cracking exhaust spewing black smoke as the gaping fire box was
fed. The spinning crank disc with its restless connecting rod
created a rhythm in the top supporte of the engine that seemed to
carry right through to my very bones.
I saw the smile of satisfaction breaking through a weather
beaten face as the throttle was pulled once again to relive
memories. There was the well seasoned engineer who jumped from the
platform to deflect escaping steam with his shovel while making
emergency repairs to a broken water gauge glass.
The sound of the ax and the scraping of flue cleaners signaled
the beginning of each new day. At night, the banking of fires held
a special significance for me. This was the time you could visit
with the engineers as they gathered in small groups under the trees
near the engines. The experiences and yarns swapped by these
fellows will long be remembered.
These things I have learned to love and now I miss them. This is
the reason my feeble mind later refused to respond to the
‘abnormal’ routine of making a living. These things cannot
pass. They must live on to satisfy the desires and romances of
All of this and much more can be found at a steam reunion. Here
are genuine friendly people. There is absence of roughness, anxiety
and the nervous tension of fast living. Perhaps the great Creator
has something to do with reunions since they are sprinkled with an
abundance of good things.
Whether they’re side mounts, rear mounts, undermounts,
singles or doubles; let’s keep them cooking for the next
generation to enjoy. Engineers and others who lived and worked with
steam can be depended upon to carry on so long as there is a spark
in the old fire box. Their knowledge and mechanical ability
over-shadows many of our present day college trained engineers.
This was a vacation worth taking.