| March/April 1973

Apt. 1, 1991 St. Laurent Bvd., Ottawa, KIG 1A3, Ontario, Canada.

My first recollection of steam power was when my father took me to Hampstead (London) Fair in 1939. All the electrical power for the midway rides came from a Foden Showmans traction engine that drove a generator mounted in front of the smokestack. After the show, the tractor would pull two trailer loads of rides to the next site.

1942 saw Britain in the midst of a gasoline and labour shortage. When harvest time came we were let out of school in order to stook corn and later when the threshing took place with an Aveling-Barford tractor we were thrilled with the novelty of a steam tractor and the belting-up operation. Little did we realise that we were witnessing the passing of an age. I can still recall men swinging scythes all day in odd shaped fields that the horsedrawn cutter could not reach. Their rhythm was something to watch, and it made mockery of some of todays youth who can hardly lift a pen to sign their welfare cheque.

Aveling Porter also made a road roller, as seen on your June cover. These machines were painted bottle green with brass boiler bands and a brass ornament on the flue door. The local paving contractor still had two of these rollers in daily use in 1945.

Bertram Mills was the big name in circus around 1946. They came to Lincoln and raised their great 'big top' overnight. It was the last time, for the following year they used indoor arenas. It was really an experience to see the roustabouts swing tent peg mallets and the elephants pulling ropes to raise that great sea of canvas that was the tent.

One of the midway attractions was the steam swing. Two gondola cars each seating twenty persons would start their pendular motion in opposite directions until after four or five swings the gondolas were swinging through 270 degree arcs. Slow up but belly bopping on the decline.


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