The Ladies Page


| November/December 1968



COUNTRY ECHOES

October begins the six month period which many of us consider the quieter months of the year. The Steam Engine Brothers are dreaming about new additions to their engine, the hobbyists are enjoying their collections even more, mostly because they can get them inside their house or at least a warm building. The Gas Engine Men are moving around the ones on which they want to tinker for a time, but what can you do with a froze-up steam engine I ask you? Somehow they look especially cold when the weather becomes chillier than chilly. But at least they aren't spitting grease all over me.

I had the dubious honor of riding on my husbands Minneapolis in the parade at the Beaver Dam show this year. It was a first experience and a wet and a greasy one. The bunker was full of water and the cover wasn't too tight. This is where I chose to perch. I came off of that engine looking as if I had backed into a tub of water. It was a nice warm day and that soon dried up. But when I got through worrying about the back of me I took a close look at the front and side of me -- and -- I was full of little black grease spots. I had worn a new green cotton skirt and a flowered sleeveless blouse.

To make a long story short I spent two hours getting most of that grease out and never will get all of it erased. Perhaps it should remain as a lingering reminder of a most enjoyable day. The air was filled with that reminiscent odor of coal and steam that one finds only at a steam reunion these days. And such happy men as they play around with their oversized toys! Somehow some of the years roll right off their backs as they chug up to the water supply station and wheel their engines back into each assigned place. Who has the best engine? Don't ever dare to ask if you want to keep your head.

The engine which looked the neatest and fanciest that day was a Buffalo Pitts made in 1915. James Johnson of Dane, Wisconsin bought it when it was fifty years old. Since 1965 he has been busily working on his engine. I heard our daughter ask him quite frankly what his wife thought about him spending all that time and money. He soon told her that he didn't have a wife so could do as he pleased. Do I hear a sigh from some of the married steam men? He has a beautiful water wagon too.

Then I talked to Kenneth McFarland of Milwaukee, one of our readers. Then met Glenn Gillen of Reedsburg who owns a 50 Case but did not have it at the show: His additional hobby is arrowheads of which he owns 700.

Next I came Across Loui Trapp who has just turned 81 and doesn't look a day over sixty five. He was attending his Nicholas Shepphard with expert care.