Resident of Antique Acres
Once again it is time for the yearly show report of Antique
Acres. As long and deserted as the winters seem to be here at the
Acres, the summers prove to be just the opposite. With freezing
temperatures still prevalent, the members were unable to move to
their summer residence until the latter part of April. But then it
was full steam ahead for five unpredictable months.
Standard procedure at the Acres each year is to make the coming
show bigger and better than the last. This involves a multitude of
decisions; crops, advertising, readying the sound equipment and
machinery for the show, lining up the various exhibits, election of
officers, and a million and one others, to say the least, that
always seem to pop up each day.
The election of officers resulted with Andrew J. Fischels of
Waterloo, Iowa, President, Harold Pries of Bremer, Iowa,
Vice-President, and Derwood Heine of Bremer, Iowa,
Secretary-Treasurer. I’m sure the members all agree that this
trio did a superb job.
Mr. Fischel’s first order of business was appointing various
committees for farm, building and grounds, advertising, parade and
PA, show ground layout, and saw mill. This was a new procedure at
the Acres and they proved to be a great asset to the club.
Due to conflicting show dates in Iowa and with Labor Day being
the last big weekend of the summer for people to travel out of
state, it was decided to change the show dates to one week earlier.
This was nothing but successful. So much so, that the show will be
the same weekend next year. Those dates will be August 23, 24, 25,
& 26, 1973.
With the changing of dates after eight years, this meant heavy
on the advertising. And that’s just what it was, with everyone
participating. Mr. Pries recorded a tape on the Acres, complete
with the Acres’ sounds, which was played through loudspeakers
attached to various cars. These really covered the miles. If anyone
was going to be on the road, they soon found themselves playing the
role of a 20th century carnival barker. An added feature this year
that really told it all, was a brochure giving the history of the
Acres, a complete line-up of the machinery and equipment, a daily
schedule during show days, and a list of officers and board
members. These were handed out at the Acres, which is open as a
museum from June to October, and also sent along with the thousands
of show bills that are mailed each summer. A float made by the John
Ruth family of Waverly, Iowa, consisted of three old-time washing
machines, a Big 3 (todays’ Speed Queen), which is copper; a
Wood-row and a Dextor, which are both wooden; and three gas
engines, a Galloway, owned by Cliff Johnston of Cedar Falls, Iowa;
and a Waterloo Boy and International, owned by John Ruth. This,
along with Randy Schwrin’s 60 HP Case Steam Engine, antique
automobiles owned by various members, and the PA system,
represented the Acres at the Sumner 100 Year Centennial. At the
Independence 125 Year Centennial, it was the same line-up except
for the steam engine, which was John Sundermeyer’s 16-60 Double
Simple Reeves Engine. The Acres received 2nd prize in the
agricultural division at Independence.
Mr. Donald Gibbons is the head of the sound system department,
which was improved this year with more accurate speakers and
additional tapes which were enjoyed all summer. Well, perhaps not
all summer, such as, on Saturday mornings when you’ve decided
to catch a few extra winks. But take it from me, you don’t miss
much of the sunlit hours at Antique Acres. If it isn’t music or
one of the very dependable roosters making his rounds, it’s
Andy Fischels getting his kick of the day with the shrill whistle
on his Woods Brothers Steam Engine. Have you ever been awakened by
a steam whistle? It beats the heck out of an alarm clock. After
coming down off the ceiling, you’ve simply got to get up to
enable your body to catch up with your heart.
Speaking of chickens, this summer the Acres was more suitably
referred to as the Antique Acres Chicken Farm! Thanks to Andy’s
purchase of 28 ‘exotic’ White Crested Black Polish baby
chicks. With the help of John Sundermeyer, they proved to be very
competant little Mother Hens! Also, making the Acres their summer
home were three Easter chicks, (one blue, one green, and one pink),
donated by the Robert Fischels’ children of Cedar Falls, Iowa,
and a Bantem hen and rooster that are still an unsolved mystery as
to their former residence. Although it wasn’t appreciated, this
couple chose a tree above one of the members’ camper as their
roost, and it was a nightly ritual watching them, after sometimes
two or three tries, achieve this feat, and to hear the inevitable
crow of the rooster when he finally had a good grip on the limb,
informing the hen that it was now her turn. I might add that they
are spending their winter months on a farm, but the members will
welcome them back in the spring. On the other hand, the rest found
themselves the guest of honor at some pretty delicious suppers, and
despite their kingly titles, the White Crested Black Polish
didn’t taste any different than your ordinary run of the mill
As I mentioned in last years’ show report, although we have
been residents of Antique Acres for over eight years now, my only
involvement was in helping with the typing and the souvenir booth.
Until last year when Andy informed me I wasn’t only going to
write about the machinery, but know what I was writing about, and
initiated me by having me help with the parade cards and explained
the different procedures of threshing, saw milling, and plowing by
steam to me. Well, this year I felt the steam fever really begin to
flow through my veins as I had my first experience in lettering on
the Fischels’ Wood Brothers Steam Engine and Woods Brothers
Hummingbird Thresher. After spending hours each day, I began to
realize how a person could look at one of these man-made iron
horses with a special warmth, as in my own way, I found I shared
those same feelings.
As the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull
boy. Never let it be said that the Acres are ‘dull’, for
the members combine the two expertly. Each summer the Acres is
given a new face-lift. Thanks to Andy Fischels, the ladies once
again had a rainproof souvenir booth, due to some new shingles and
fold-down doors. The aroma of paint from various points on the
grounds rose to mingle with the music filled air; and perhaps a few
of the brushes even picked up the tempo. With the selection of a
carnival tape and a little imagination, I half expected the huge
grey elephant I saw perched upon (the Fischels’ thresher) to go
rambling off at any moment to join the parade. You could almost
visualize the presidential candidiates on the newly painted red,
white, and blue bandstand, compliments of Mrs. Donald Gibbons. Many
of the signs and billboards were repainted by John Ruth, his son,
Dean, and myself; and a bigger display board was put up for
showbills from all over the United States that are sent to us each
year. Harold Pries and Derwood Heine were in charge of the new
shower that was installed for the men. This developed into a
complicated, but laughable, situation. The men decided to switch
restrooms with the ladies during this process so they wouldn’t
be without a shower, but protesting like true Women Libbers, a
compromise was met resulting with guards posted at the door.
With the arrival of new and old friends, you know that it is
showtime. Each year the list of old friends seems to grow larger
and it wouldn’t be Antique Acres without them. Their most
dependable help is deeply appreciated and their friendship even
Certainly the most willing workers ever to come out of the state
of Missouri are the Lou Kruger family from Columbia. They roared
into the Acres about 5:00 A. M. Friday in their bus camper, and I
remember waking from a sound sleep wondering, ‘What in the
world are they delivering coal at this time of day for!’ Lou is
an expert at the Proney Brake, owned by the Smolik Brothers of
Osage, Iowa; and Mrs. Kruger holds her own as a top Case tractor
operator, which she proves in the daily parades, (neither rain,
sleet, snow, or mud hinders her arrival in front
of the bandstand). She also stole the limelight playing the
beautiful 1925 Circus Calliope, owned by Curt Stein of Gilmore
City, Iowa. And to add to all of this, Mrs. Kruger and her two
lovely daughters wore beautiful handmade gowns (with matching
pantaloons) that would put Miss Kitty to shame. The girls and their
brother, Craig, are perhaps the busiest all-arounders at the Acres.
Brenda was chosen as our ‘Steam Queen’ and she lives up to
the title. Oblivious to the soot and dust, she can usually be found
on the plow engine or tossing bundles into the thresher. So a big
‘Thanks, you all’.
Mr. and Mrs. Art Robinson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota are
another welcome sight. Art masters the shingle saw and Mrs.
Robinson is irreplaceable in the souvenir booth. An added bonus
with this couple is that they always favor us with one of their
many pieces of model machinery. This year they brought a 1? inch to
the foot scale model of a Huber 1918 Steamer and a 1? inch to the
foot scale model of a Huber Thresher. The steamer produces live
steam, but Iowa laws prohibit it to be run in this state. It was a
unique exhibit just the same.
We almost had to purchase another acre to park Mr. and Mrs.
Fritz Harnish’s new camper. They and their Dachshund daughter,
Doxie, hail from Akron, Ohio. They always bring along a wide
selection of watch fobs, key chains, buckles, old steam engine show
buttons, Case books, Case pictures, and handmade afghans. Very much
appreciated was their donation of a watch fob each day, giving us
an extra prize for the drawings.
Although he claims to be retired from the business, the Acres
refuse to accept this, and Mr. Harold Smith, ‘Smitty’, of
Ralston, Iowa, again honored us with his presence. His vast
knowledge of the public address system operation is a great help to
us in the sound room. This spry 79′ er has been with us since
1961. The members of the Acres presented him this year with a
lifetime membership to Antique Acres.
Among many of the other friends who lend a big hand in putting
on a successful show are Arnie Slyndie of Lyle, Minnesota, and
George Hedke of Davis Junction, Illinois. Arnie operates the Smolik
Brothers’ 40-140 Reeves Compound Steam Engine, believed to be
the largest and only one left in existence today. With Ray Smolik
doing the steering, they demonstrate its power in the field by
plowing with the Smolik’s John Deere 14 bottom plow. Taking its
turn at the plow is the Smolik Brothers’ 110 Case. This is
usually operated by George Hedke and steered by Ray Smolik, but due
to flood conditions, Mr. Hedke was called home Friday. Harry
Woodmansey of Dowling, Michigan, filled in for him. The boys did a
beautiful job. Now, I agree they’ve done their fiar share
through the past years with incidents such as bent beams and their
spectacular stuck-in-the-mud performance, and I know they really
deserved a breather, but I explained to them that although this
goes to producing a smoothly run show, it leaves me with a story
lacking drama. They promised to do better next year.
Some unexpected help came from the Ray’s Tree Service crew
of Clinton, Iowa, who were camped on our grounds. They handled the
logs at the saw mill with their equipment. Cliff Johnston of Cedar
Falls, Iowa, was in charge of the saw mill, owned by Stuart Fenton
of Waterloo, Iowa. Cliff did a superb job.
Out of the 35 acres of oats planted this year at the Acres, six
acres were left for threshing during the show and the rest was
combined. Due to the unexpected amount of Iowa showers this summer,
it was decided to load the shocks on wagons and keep them in the
storage buildings rather than put them in stacks. Threshing during
the show was done by the Fischels and Sons’ Wood Brothers 18 HP
Steam Engine and their 30-56 Woods Brothers Hummingbird Thresher.
Alternate engines were John Sundermeyer’s 16 HP Reeves Double
Cylinder Steam Engine and Randy Schwrin’s 60 HP Case Steam
Engine. This was the first year at the Acres for the Fischels’
thresher, purchased this spring, it received fresh paint and new
belts. If anyone knows the original colors of the Hummingbird and
background on the side of the thresher and of the Woods Brother
Engine, please let us know. The two are quite a picture, making a
complete Iowa rig, and they really made hay (or rather, straw).
Since Ray Fischels hangs his hat at Salem, New Jersey, he seems to
feel he deserves the right to be top engineer on the Fischels’
engine during the show, so they humor him and turn him loose. If he
looked a little crowded during the parades, that was his wife and
four children assisting him. I guess you could call him the
mouthpiece of the family, since he’s pretty good at giving
orders long distance. His latest one is being carried out by having
the throttle valve overhauled and the governor rebuilt on the Woods
Brother Engine. So it should have plenty of snap for next year. An
added attraction was the baling of straw with a belt driven JI Case
wire tie baler, which is owned by Derwood Heine and Harold
Although the first day of the show is always scheduled as a
set-up day, things went so smoothly that the Acres put on the
entire show, complete with all the trimmings.
The daily parades at Antique Acres always deserve a big hand.
The members give it their all and there’s very few pieces of
machinery that set idle on the grounds. Donald Gibbons served as
Parade Marshal, Shelby Bellinger of La Porte City, Iowa, was the
Parade MC, and although I haven’t received a title yet, I again
assisted with the line-up and parade cards. A new feature this year
was the teaming up of some of the threshers and engines, giving you
a look at three complete rigs. Doing a little flagwaving for our
home state, we headed it off with the Fischels’ Woods Brothers
Steam Engine and Woods Brothers Hummingbird Thresher, a complete
Iowa product. Randy Schwrin’s 60 HP Case Steam Engine pulled A.
J. Lindamann’s 36-58 Case Thresher and the Acres’ 22 HP
Avery Undermount, operated by Robert Fischels, pulled A. J.
Lindamann’s 36-62 Avery Yellow Fellow Separator.
Mr. Lindamann of Waterloo, Iowa, is in the process of restoring
his Avery Separator, which he recently purchased. This is an all
wooden machine and will be quite a showpiece when it is finished.
You can always count on Mr. Lindamann to come up with something new
and different each year.
Our youngest engineer, 16 year old Randy Schwrin of Sumner,
Iowa, left more than one of the veteran engineers with open mouths.
Expertly handling his 60 HP Case Engine, which he purchased last
year and beautifully restored, he lined up in the belt to the
thresher with little or no problem and backed into it like an old
pro. One of our roving reporters turned in a news flash a couple
weeks ago. Randy is now the proud owner of a 22 HP Wood Brothers
Steam Engine, which he and his father have already started to
restore. His mom is also a big help and an artist with the brush.
This engine will be in show condition no later than next July, and
although we’ve heard Randy plans to use it for
home-entertainment, we’re hoping to persuade him to have it
here during the show. It is a real showpiece with an excellent
engineer to boot. Incidents like this seem to make it all
worthwhile and by the gleam in the eyes of many of the Acres
younger enthusiasts who can’t wait until their day at the wheel
arrives, I think the Acres will be in business for many generations
Making the parades larger and truly an Acres’ original each
year is the continual restoring of machinery purchased by the
members. They seem determined to corner the market on the unusual.
If you looked up at one point in the parade and thought you saw a
tremendous glowing apparition, relax, it was only John
Sundermeyer’s beaming face as he operated his newly restored
35-70 Minneapolis. John purchased this tractor last summer; and if
you’ve seen the before and after product, you realize the many
hours of work involved. There were a few moments of tension as
showtime drew nearer, but John, his son-in-law, Harold Pries, and
John’s grandson, Randy Pries, came through for us and had it
running the first day of the show. Mrs. Pries lent a hand with the
paintbrush. Already, it is a masterpiece in restoring, but
they’ll put the finishing touches on it next year with the cab
and painting of the decals. It will then be in the original state
as when it was manufactured from the Minneapolis Threshing Machine
If this list of new items isn’t sufficient, we also had
Donald Gibbons’ Ottawa cut-off saw with a power takeoff, driven
from his Model B John Deere tractor, which had been completely
restored and was active at the saw mill during the show; two
Rosenthall shredders, a two roll, all wooden, owned by E. B.
Crowell of Waterloo, Iowa, and a four roll, owned by John
Sundermeyer; and Derwood Heine again added to his collection of
Farmalls, with three newly restored tractors.
New to the Acres this year were three miniature tractors brought
in by exhibitors. They included a Fairbanks Morse, owned by Ray and
Ann Schellenberger, from North Freedom, Wisconsin; a Rumely Oil
Pull, owned by George F. Erbe, Manona, Iowa; and a Rumely Oil Pull,
owned by R. W. Krieg, Dubuque, Iowa. These were enjoyed by young
Exhibiting his Allis Chalmers tractor and buzz saw, Frank
(Shorty) Williams isn’t short on offering help
during the show and is an excellent bundle depositor during the
The new face you saw on the water-wagon, and perhaps one of the
most efficient Waterboys in history, was Jerry Rottinghaus, of
Washburn, Iowa. He was Johnny-on-the-spot both with the engines and
the ladies, as one certain Southern belle can confirm.
Missed this year was one of our younger members and former
operator of the stationery boiler and waterwagon, Jim Van Nice,
Andy Fischels’ grandson. A Navy man, Jim’s stationed off
the coast of Alaska. He informed us that he was going to fire-up
his miniature steam engine, as his tribute, each day of the show.
Following the show, members and friends sent him a ‘community
letter’ and they’re counting on him for next year’s
show. Now if only Uncle Sam will co-operate.
Always supplying an excellent variety is the gas engine exhibit.
Putting together the ones owned by E. B. Crowell, Derwood Heine,
John Ruth, and Cliff Johnston is a huge display in its own, but
they always welcome the many exhibitors who add to making our show
what it is. Some of these were Doug Fiske, of Iowa Falls, Iowa,
Russel Moss, of Hamilton, Missouri, Kenny Cass, of Dunkerton, Iowa,
with a very rare Crabb engine, Bob Buck, of Grundy Center, Iowa,
Harold Beason, of Lynn Ville, Iowa, Glenn Boggess, of Charles City,
Iowa, and Harry Reoder, of Belvue, Iowa, who has been here the last
few shows with scale models and this year also brought along his 45
HP Case Steam Engine. These gas engines were all in top running
condition, making the display about 130 strong.
The two 100′ by 40′ storage buildings always come in
handy during the show. This year one offered a beautiful display of
the members’ antique automobiles; and the other one was chock
full of flea market exhibitors. These included the Minnesota Woolen
Mills featuring clothing for the entire family, ceramics,
fancy-work, gift items, and are planning a fashion show for the
ladies for next years’ show. The Wilson Sales, dealing in
antiques and glassware, and the Lansing General Store, with a huge
display of gifts, novelties, toys, and glassware, are from Haines
City, Florida, and promise to be back in ’73. Others planning a
return visit our next show are Allen Hoover, of Peru, Illinois,
with his display of watch fobs; Robert Gray, from Eldora, Iowa,
featuring his Pioneer Tractor Sales; and Mr. and Mrs. Harold
Armstrong, from Des Moines, Iowa, who operated the Cappers Weekly
tent, offering a wide selection of well known publications, along
with their very popular Cappers Weekly newspaper. The B & D
Antique & Secondhand Store, from Waterloo, Iowa, was again with
us and seemed to have a little bit of everything. Two very
interesting and new exhibits to the Acres were a display of post
cards, posters, and magazines by Ernst Hoffer, from Ohio, and Hal
Milner’s Woodburning on Red Wood display, from Texas.
Some of the new exhibits lined up for next years show include, a
decoupage picture display by Harold Ashby, of Randalia, Iowa;
Florence Carroll, from Sumner, Iowa, featuring antiques; and pop
and candy concessions.
The Acres’ souvenir booth, filled to the rafters with an
excellent variety of magazines, reprints, cookbooks, subscriptions
to Engineers & Engines, Gas Engine, and Iron-Men Album,
souvenir buttons, jewelry, watch fobs, caps, T-shirts, postcards,
and many other souvenir items, was again managed by the very
capable Mrs. Harold Pries and Mrs. Derwood Heine. With an excellent
tourist trade this summer, they found they really had to restock
for the show, which also proved to be a smash hit in their book.
The girls also took their display to the Waverly Fair and the Black
Hawk County Cattle Congress and sold up a storm.
Mrs. John Ruth was in charge of the other Acres’ souvenir
booth and did real well. She had a beautiful selection of ceramics,
crochet pieces, and many other handmade items.
Coming to the aid of more than one hungry person was the
Acres’ food tent, operated this year by Kentucky Fried Chicken.
They were open for business from breakfast to supper and did an
Our camping area, a choice location on the grounds with green
lawns, plenty of shade trees, near the eating tent and restrooms,
was filled with campers from all over the United States.
Looking into the future, this fall the Smolik brothers and Louis
Hommez planted around 100 trees. So, easy on the throttle, boys,
the tree you save may be your own.
Excitement ran high the last day of the show as the Donald
Deutch 22 HP Rumely was auctioned off before a large crowd. And you
could almost hear the sighs of relief coming from the Acres’
members as the final bid was received and the Smolik Brothers
became the new owners. Going for a very high price, you realize
just what this top quality equipment is worth in dollars and cents.
We’re very happy to have not lost this fine engine.
Due to a very busy schedule, the 15-30 Townsend tractor, that
looks like a miniature steam engine, didn’t get its chance to
plow during the show as planned, but the owners, John Sunder-meyer
and Andy Fischels, promise this special feature for next year. They
took this tractor to the Cattle Congress this fall, demonstrated
its power with the shingle saw, and passed out hundreds of cedar
shingles for souvenirs. It really set there and purred.
Trying its skill in the field this fall was the hobby tractor,
owned by Roy Harper of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Roy built this tractor
from scratch and completed it for last years’ show. Pulling a
four bottom 16′ plow, it averaged 3 mph. So the Smolik Brothers
may have a little competition in the plowing division next
Mr. Gerald M. Bailey, from New Hampton, Iowa, who Andy Fischels
and E. B. Crowell met this summer on one of their advertising
excursions, has purchased his first steam engine, a 75 HP Case from
South Dakota. He plans to have it completely restored and at our
show in ’73. We wish him the best of luck and welcome him to
this exciting world of the steam age.
Officially, this is the line-up for next year. But off the
record, there are a number of new ideas and it will be interesting
to see what the Acres come up with for the next show.
So, I think you can understand that with all this action,
although you may arrive in a full-powered, air-conditioned car, in
only a matter of minutes, you’ll travel back through time and
experience events you’ve probably only read or heard about. And
after spending a day in this little world of past history and then
comparing it with our current events, you realize how far we’ve
come in so few years. But even with our daily search into the
unknown, you’ll still find these tiny groups of men with their
feet planted solidly in good old Mother Earth, struggling to hold
on to those past days of dreams and ambitions. And who’s to say
which is the wiser.