Pictured is Fred Schneider in the firebox of Kitten engine during the refluing of it. August 1971. Courtesy of Truman Koopman, Flanagan, Illinois 61740.
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 chicken.
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 more.
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 Pries.
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 to come.
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 Company.
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 and old.
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 threshing.
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 abundant business.
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 year.
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.