My memmo’s of the fifth annual reunion of the Old Settlers and Threshers Meeting at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, held September 7th to 11th, 1954 (Note: Mrs. Seaman, since writing this article has been seriously injured in an automobile accident and is slowly recovering in a hospital)
Sunrise of Monday, September 7, the big Reeves steam engine loaded on the lowboy, the steam calliope hooked tandem to the car and luggage safely aboard we are on our scenic first trip to Mt. Pleasant, 280 miles away, arriving at McMillan Park at 3:30 P. M. Everything was a bustle with visitors and owners busy unloading their participants of entertainment, the steam engines. It took expert maneuvering the iron visitors smoothly to the ground from lowboy carriers and truck. Friendly greetings and handshakes were in order as the parking spaces filled with these puffing whistling monsters. All the days following we marveled at their smooth movements, up the grassy knoll to the west, with the visitors and friends at the controls, and merry young folks piling on for a ride. Shrill whistles broke the stillness of the city routine, and gay old time tunes carried far into the distance as Mr. Shell played his calliope completing the true spirit of the celebration.
Each days program was solemnized by an invocation from various noted people and the welcome address by Mayor Wade. One morning an interesting tape recording was made from interviewing the oldest thresherman present. The church ladies served bountiful tasty meals from the spacious tents and though we never watched, the horse show fans, the checker board, the chess and the old fiddlers contests, they drew merry audiences. The prony brake was a daily fascinating event. It was astounding the power and smoothness with which they registered their power, as smoke puffed skyward and sparks flew every which way. They were all so friendly in acceptance of competition and playful boasts. When the Teeter-Totter event came up we were all ready for some exciting maneuvers, a very precarious trick with a steam engine with nothing but levers for controlling the big mass of powerful steam power. Perfect balance, yes, but only once for the teeter totter broke down. Each day the cavalcade on the track was looked forward to with renewed interest. Large steaming enteries, and some very miniature, passed in review before the crowded grandstand. After their recognition by the announcer, whistled and moved on around the track. We were honored by the presence of Mr. Wood the designer, and, now the only living manufacturer of Wood steam engines. One day I shall long remember. We were watching the smaller engines saw lumber from birch and walnut logs. Resting in the grass close by, as though just born, was a shining model, a work of art.
The antique display called our attention many times and we marveled over the various objects on display, and visited with many newfound friends. Mrs. Hamilton’s display of antique furnishings was beautiful and very interesting in her city home. Later we met Dr. Hamilton in the park and enjoyed visiting with him, although we regretted not finding time to visit the institution where he is established.
One morning the Reeves was in need of repairs so we went along to Bill Sater’s blacksmith shop where we watched workmen at the forge and electric hammer, a fitting place to repeat the old poem, ‘The Village Blacksmith. The slides and motion pictures shown in the lounge tent were appreciated by all of us, who have never traveled far, and needless to say we also enjoyed the needlecraft weaving and camera display. I must not forget the brave lad on the high wheeled bicycle. This was very amusing also. Regardless of weather, rain and wind, or sun, each day was a new chapter in entertainment. Firing up in the early morning, breaking kindling, backing up to the free coal pile, cleaning the flues, removing the ashes, filling with water, wiping and polishing were all entertaining.
Every day we collected our share of soot and engine grime, and the taste of smoke was exhilirating. Too swiftly the days passed and the time came for reloading and departing.
We watched with uneasiness when the big Case was reloaded. It took expert lever control and good management to move this big engine with precision, on to the loading platform and truck. Sunday morning we loaded the Reeves and the calliope for the homeward trip and tock one last look at the festival grounds, because next morning at sun up we would be on our way. Our calliope player from Algona tailed to arrive so we were disappointed in not being able to furnish music. We visited Mr. Mathews and saw his collection of old organs, and also in the home of Mr. Willits where he entertained us on his beautiful electric organ. He is a most talented musician. Our appreciation of meeting all these new friends in Mt. Pleasant is sincere. Such cooperation in managing successfully such a large group of visitors and the ever interesting programs, is an honorable accomplishment. The closer you get to a hobby the greater our contentment and security. My sister and I have already planned to renew acquaintances next year at the reunion.