Old Threshers At 31

| January/February 1981

10022 Marnice Avenue, Tujunga, California 91042

Smoke hung over the little town as I approached Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and as I drove through town and saw the pickups, lowboys, cars and busses carrying people to and from the fairgrounds, I knew this was going to be one big show.

For many years I had anticipated this moment, and today I was realizing this ambition; to visit the 31st reunion of the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Association. Even through they have converted from coal to wood as fuel in order to cut down on pollution, the smell of wood smoke and valve oil made a wonderful aroma and I hurried through town to get to the fairgrounds, the mecca of all lovers of steam-driven engines.

I had arrived late Wednesday afternoon, intending to stay for the first two days of the show, as prior commitments for the weekend precluded a longer stay. As I drove slowly around the grounds, the hustle and bustle of the setting up for the show was everywhere. Equipment was being moved around, steam engines were being serviced, some cold, some hot and some just setting there with their flywheels slowly revolving, all bringing back memories of my childhood days on the farm.

I was to meet a good friend of mine, Charley Starkey of East Vinton, Iowa, and he wasn't too hard to locate, because Charley talks constantly and usually has quite a large audience. He had his travel trailer with him and we were to bunk down in it. So after getting settled, he took me on a tour of the grounds.

Thursday morning dawned foggy and with the appearance of rain. Picture taking was out, so I devoted the day to getting acquainted and walking. I was amazed at the size of the grounds and the amount of equipment on display. Not only traction engines (65 full size and about 30 models and oddballs) but a couple of  hundred gas and diesel tractors, antique automobiles, horses and horse drawn equipment, gasoline engines, flea markets, a railroad train, buildings housing farming memprabilia, including a full size threshing rig turning slowly, propelled by an electric motor, and a  complete operating display of beautiful steam engines, including an enormous Corliss compound pumping unit. It quite took my breath away.