The following poem was sent to us by Joe Steinhagen of 11980 Kluver Addition Road SE, Alexandria, Minnesota 56308. Joe copied it from and old issue of Steam Engines magazine. He says the author is J. F. “Percy” Percival, who died before the magazine ceased publication in the early ’60s.
I listened one day to some Old Engineers
As they talked about steam, and the Steam Engine years.
And each had a story, of Steam Engines they had run:
The kind, size and make, and the work they had done.
Some had run a Steam engine on an old river scow;
Some had hooked their Steam Engine to a 12-bottom plow.
Some had pulled a big saw, or hauled logs in the woods;
Some had run a Steam Donkey where a man must be good.
Some had run a Steam Engine while still just a kid,
And told all about the jobs that they did.
Some had pulled a corn shredder and double burr grinder,
And a large silo filler and a big header-binder.
They had all done threshing, in the East and Northwest,
And this was the job they all liked the best!
It was one Engine job they could never forget,
And was voted first place, on this you can bet!
I know there’s no job that could ever compare,
To the Steam threshing job, so please hear their prayer.
They would turn back the clock, forty years if we may,
Let us run a Steam outfit for just one single day.
Let’s arise from our bed while our legs are still steady,
And give us an Engine that we can get ready.
We would first check the water, and then clean the flues,
and dig out the ashes and other refuse;
Start the fire a-going, get the water a-boiling,
Fill the bunkers with coal, and then do the oiling;
Fill up the oil pump, also the grease cups;
And by now there’s a sizzle, for steam’s coming up.
Next we peek at the steam gauge, and the hand is at 20;
So we turn on the blower, so we soon will have plenty!
When the gauge shows one fifty, our whistle we’re blowing,
To wake up the neighbors and start roosters crowing.
With a full head of steam and already to go,
The things that we need you old timers all know.
We need a machine a big separator
That has a large mouth, like an old alligator.
We want 12 bundle houlers and three spike pitchers, too
A machine man, and boss, for we want a full crew.
A coal hauling flunky, and a lazy old tanky,
And a cook car, and cooks we won’t care if they’re cranky
Just so they know how to handle their kittles
Make hot cakes and coffee, and cook some good vittles.
Give us a machine, a boss and a crew,
And we’ll show everybody what a steam rig can do.
We would move the machine to a nice level place,
And line up our Engine to it ‘face to face ‘
Put the belt on the flywheel, and tighten it tight
And then the machine man will holler all right!
Then we’d watch the spike pitchers as they pitch in the wheat,
And see how much straw this old thresher can eat!
We would see the wind stacker blowing straw away up high,
As the dust and the smoke goes up toward the sky.
We want farmers with wagons, to haul off the grain;
We are sure many of them would like this again!
And, we’d like a large field, with long rows of shocks
That would make some straw piles for farmers’ livestock.
We know all these things of the past have been changed
But to answer our prayer, could they be re-arranged?
So we could run our Steam threshers for just one more day
Let us turn back the clock, 40 years if we may!
Better not wait too long for it may be too late
When St. Peter will beckon form the bright shining gate!
Won’t somebody do something to bring us some cheer?
And answer the prayer of the Old Engineers?
I’m sure there’s a place where some threshing is done,
Where they run old steam engines and have lots of fun.
And their prayer may be answered, and if this is true;
I am sure that Steam Engines will have it for you;
And if you read STEAM ENGINES, I am sure you will know,
How we ran our Steam Threshers in those years long ago.
To the Old Engineers, may the Lord show His Mercy,
And remember me Lord, I’m Old Engineer Percy!