The Ladies Page

In January and February the warmth and security of one’s own
house is such an immeasurable comfort. But about now, I am
wondering how Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schwanke are doing in their old
three-story stone house.

In September we took a flying trip to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. It was
a very wet trip. The grounds were so soggy, the crowd so large, we
stayed only a few hours on Saturday. The weather was just not
cooperative. To watch a parade in the rain is a dampening
experience.

On Sunday afternoon as we got back to the area around Sauk City,
Wisconsin, I was driving along moderately when my Mr. B exclaimed,
‘Stop, Mother! Stop! I saw a steam engine!’

Now you Ladies all know that when a husband speaks in that way
WE STOP! But, as I complied to his orders, I had no idea how
interesting our stop was going to be.

In a matter of moments we met Mr. Schwanke. He was admiring his
newly acquired 16 Horse Advance Engine. He had learned of it being
for sale through an ad in the Iron Men Album. He was a
happy man, and soon two happy men were examining the engine
together.

In the meantime I was admiring the outside of an old, old stone
house built in 1875. I couldn’t resist asking questions. Yes,
they still lived in a part of it. It has stone walls 2 feet thick.
The abutment becomes five feet wide after-it enters the ground.
Talk about a foundation!

‘Mr. Schwanke,’ I inquired, ‘how about in the winter
time, can you and your wife keep warm?’ He grinned amiably.

‘Well,’ he said dryly, ‘you wouldn’t believe it,
but the frost comes clear through those 2 foot walls in extremely
cold weather.’ So you see I’ll be thinking of them during
January and February. Wouldn’t you?

I walked as far as I could get around that interesting old
house. Three stories high! The windows were of such unusual
construction, I can’t forget them. Again the questions came.
‘Do you ever have people trying to buy it?’ I asked.

‘Oh yes,’ he answered. ‘I have one lady who
can’t seem to forget it. One Sunday I was watching TV when I
spied this lady walking around our house. She was taking pictures
of it. A couple of days later a real estate man came and made an
offer. I was pretty sure who had sent him. I declined the offer but
a week or so later he was back and offered me several thousand
dollars more. He came again and the price jumped some more.’ By
now my eyes were wide at the amount he named.

‘And you aren’t selling it?’ I queried.

‘No, I don’t think so,’ he replied. The way he said
it I knew he really likes this charming old house, and he won’t
be tempted too easily. I keep wondering how far the lady will go in
her efforts to acquire her ‘piece of the past.’ I hope,
some day, to learn what happens in this intriguing situation.

Mr. Schwanke has a sizeable stack of Iron Men Albums he
says he wouldn’t sell for $500.00. So, you see, he likes this
paper too. And he said his wife likes steam engines as well as he.
We had a lot in common that afternoon.

Mr. Sehwanke and Mr. B continued lamenting over all the boilers
and parts of old machinery they have sold at junk prices or given
away in the past. ‘Oh, I should have hung onto that,’ they
agreed. Haven’t you heard that one before, Ladies? I have.

But it was time we were on our way. On our way home we had
acquired muskmelon, watermelon, and some ripe, aged cheese. The car
had quite an aroma, I admit.

How we chatted as we made our last 50 or 60 miles. That is the
fun part of trips. Suddenly we have so much to talk about. This day
we had even more.

So Mr. and Mrs. Schwanke, we hope you are keeping warm in your
beautiful old house. Maybe the frost has filled up all the cracks
by now, and winter is shut out. We hope you especially enjoy this
copy of the album.

As for us we will be spending our first Christmas and the entire
winter in our new home. In October we were asked to open our house
for The Parade of Homes, a benefit for a local hospital. I
didn’t quite reckon the work involved and ended up very tired.
Four hundred and ninety-one people inspected our house. I had to
mark all the tickets as they came through and I don’t even know
who was here. The day is rather hazy in my mind, and my feet
haven’t recovered yet. So I think I am going to need this
winter to recuperate. Isn’t it a blessing to have a time of
year when things slow down? Surely God, in His wisdom, planned it
that way. But, between the five houses on display, about a thousand
dollars was earned for our hospital. Maybe some new machine will
save someone’s life. So, we can rejoice again in our toil and
labor. Have a happy wintertime. God bless you.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment