This is the start of what we hope will be a regular column in IMA, dealing with readers, engines, farming, museums, magazines and related matters. If you have suggestions for what should be included, please send them along.
A telephone call came in recently from Jerry Kitten, of Slaton, Texas, near Lubbock, whose 'triple great uncle' Lorenz Kitten started the Kitten steam engine business. Jerry is a Kitten collector who sought copies of articles IMA had published 23 years ago on the Kitten. We hope to have information from him soon, so that we can do an article bringing the Kitten story up to date. His address is RD2, Box 6, Slaton, Texas 79634.
Kitten 24 HP owned by Paul B. Stoltzfoos, of Leola, PA, shown at Rough and Tumble Historical Engineers Association grounds, Kinzers, PA. Serial no. 214. Joseph Kitten, son of a Prussian maker of wooden shoes, established a shop at Ferdinand, Indiana. His first Kitten was made about 1880; the last one, serial #246, was made in 1940. Information from Wilmer J. Eshleman, R & T member, and Jim Norbeck, Encyclopedia author.
If you have not sent in your information and ad for our 1982 Steam & Gas Show Directory, do it now. Make sure you include full addresses and telephone numbers for contact persons. On the road this summer, we were stymied in trying to make telephone calls to people who could tell us about associations. We found the Canandaiga (N.Y.) and East Smithfield (Pa.) meets, and enjoyed our visits to both.
If you collect and help operate a museum dealing with engines and other items from days gone by, you will be interested in this statement from John H. White, Jr., curator of transportation at the Smithsonian Institution, who was in charge of the project to operate the John Bull locomotive on its recent 150th anniversary:
'To break through barriers that make us see artifacts of the past as remote, obscure relics: A sensitive observer must come to understand them as ordinary objects that were once undistinguished participants in everyday life. Only if we can understand material culture in this sense can we interpret the past beyond the antiquarian level.'
In other words, our old engines and all the machinery and equipment of farming have a story to tell. The way you tell it can attract and hold not only spectators to attend and enjoy your events, but also young men and women who will become active collectors and restorers, swelling the ranks of the organizations. This quote appeared in American Heritage magazine, Aug.-Sept. 1981.
Did you see a segment on the 1981 show of the Rough and Tumble Engineers on CBS television? We didn't, but we were called in Montana by a researcher for the Charles Kurault production, for information about threshing and the organizations. The reference came from Pat Kreider, Rough and Tumble president, the first person the researcher asked for information. When an event such as that at Kinzers, Pa., is shown nationally, all shows benefit because people want to see and know more.
Anna Mae Branyan, who writes her well known column for IMA, reminds us that the first effort of the Rev. Elmer Ritzman, founder of Stemgas, was a single sheet in which he asked whether to go ahead with a magazine. His first regular issue had about 40 subscribers. We may republish articles from the early issues, if people say they want to see them.
Cliff Magnuson, RR2, Glasford, Ill., 61533, writes in renewing his subscription:
'Nice that folks leave the door open to what America was like from the 1880s to the 1940s when farming was being done in a cooperative fashion throughout agricultural communities, harvesting and constructing the buildings. This wonder and neighborly spirit one may say returns in the form of a reunion for a few days. It is an enjoyment to the visitors and a delight to the exhibitors who have cared so well for this early American and Canadian farm equipment. The steam engine ushered in the mechanical age, relieving the horse and ox of the grueling and steady work during the hottest time of the year.' He signs himself, 'A Friend and Neighbor of Clean Air, Water and Soil.'
We asked, 'Where Are the Engines?' in our last issue, and have already received some replies with photos. If you intend to register your engine with us, do it now.