SOOT IN THE FLUES


| September/October 1960



Soot In The Flues

A cheery Hello and a hearty handshake to each one of you. AND if the column is smudged with black -- think nothing of it -- it is just the remains of a most pleasant trip to the Montpelier Reunion. My daughter, Dana, and I were guests of the Ritzman's for this affair, and we certainly extend our thanks for such a wonderful chance to meet so many fine folks and enjoy the fellowship of the 'steam fans'. And since I had never been so far away from home for quite a while and never left the family overnight I had quite a battle with myself before taking the step --I felt like a pioneer 'going west' -- but I made it and am most happy I did. You know the saying, 'You never know what you're going to like, until you try it.' Well, we tried, we liked, and now -- it's probably in our blood too, so don't blame anyone but yourself, Elmer, if you find a few more in your gang at the Reunions.

I'll tell you these people are one of the happiest groups I've ever run across, it really is like a big happy family -- all kidding each other and happy to meet again after the long winter. They remind you of a bunch of kids playing with their favorite toys -- and why not -- most adults are just kids grown up when it comes to having fun. I think it is wonderful for folks to have a hobby where they can forget the everyday chores and cares of life and just do what they are doing because they love it, and believe me that's the 'Iron-Men' followers.

We had a wonderful time talking to all these people we met and we also thoroughly enjoyed our experience on some of the engines. Mr. Earnest Hoffer of Toledo, Ohio, took Dana and I for quite a ride on his Buffalo-Pitts (he let us run it too, or at least we thought we did). It's lots of fun, I think. Then Percy Sherman of Palmyra, Michigan, had Earlene, Marsha, Dana and I on the 25 hp Russell -- we took her the whole way around the track. Friday night in the parade, Earlene and I ran across the field to get on an engine and the closest one was a Nichols & Shepard being driven by Mr. Hoffer and owned by him and Mr. Sherman. He was very kind to us, but we knew soon enough that the engine was not built for more than one or two at the most, and when we two corn-fed Pennsylvanians plus Mr. Hoffer were on it -- there was no room, but we hated to walk all the way back and he put up with us until we got around closer to the grandstand, where Mrs. Hoffer rescued him and invited us on the TNT Float mentioned in Earlene's column. We had a lot of fun though with Mrs. Hoffer -- telling her that was some way to get us away from her hubby. She's a real nice lady though, and knew we were just one of the jolly crowd.

They had a Railroad Steam Locomotive out there mounted on a truck frame with rubber tires. It went 'round and 'round that track, just chugging like a locomotive -- you'd have thought for sure it was on tracks a-puffin' away --and nearly every time around, Dana was a passenger. Must be the Pennsylvania Railroad blood in her, inherited from her father (an engineman)! -- And they kidded her about that, too. she had a great time, but I watched as the tug-of-war contest was in session with the 'would be strong' men and boys --she could hardly keep from getting her hands on that rope. I know how she felt -- that was just one of those times when girls who are ladies but have some of that 'tomboy' in them could just wish. Oh well! I'm sure they're only moments of regret, and that's all. Elmer and I surely wish he had that engine (above-mentioned) in here -- I told him he could take all the kids on the street to school every morning --they don't have very far to go, but it's still a nice thought!

We attended two of the meetings there and found them quite enjoyable. There are so many nice booths of handicrafts there, we brought home quite a few nice gifts. -- And eats, of course you know how any such affair is, there must be eats. You eat only once a day though -- ALL DAY!

Oh yes, another thing I wanted to mention to any women pondering on going to the reunions -- GO - you'll have loads of fun. It is a bit dirty, but it doesn't take long to clean up and if the steam and humid weather tends to make your hair droop, don't worry, out there they had a remedy for that -- at 12 and 6 each day, all the engines (nearly 40) blow their whistles as loudly as possible -- and believe me that's enough to make your hair curl!