That's My Daddy's Steam Engine

| May/June 1987

Route 3, Box 61 Calhoun, Kentucky 42327

My Dad always has been and will always be my hero. In springtime when I was a child on the way to and from school, someone would shout: 'Hey, look, there's a steam engine.' I could say with pride, 'That's my daddy's Case steam engine.' The pride swelled until I stood 10 feet tall.

My daddy would be making his annual spring tobacco plant bed steaming run with his pride and joy his beloved 65 HP Case. It always took a whole month for Saturday to arrive, so I would be out of school and could go with Daddy to the steam engine.

Up before daylight, once breakfast and the farm chores were done, we would head for the farm where the engine had been parked the night before. Once at the engine, the first thing he would do, after lighting his kerosene lantern, was open the water glass to see how much water had boiled out during the night. Then, he would proceed with cleaning the fire and swabbing the flues. He always intended to have a full head of steam by daylight or soon thereafter.

One of the first jobs I can remember he assigned to me was taking the rake and cleaning the ashes out of the ash pan. What a thrill! I was getting dirty, and I was helping my dad operate his steam engine.

Of course, it wasn't long until I wanted to fire. Gee, it looked so easy the way he carefully guided each scoop-full and spread it evenly over the firebox. Needless to say, my first attempts resulted in a very uneven fire, falling steam pressure and Daddy having to take over to restore order to the situation.