BRANDON WISCONSIN RR-2 ZIP-53919
Very recently we took off on a Saturday morning for a one day trip. My mysteriously-minded husband wouldn't tell me where we were going. His stock-in-trade answer is always the same 'Don't you like surprises?' I gave him a stony wifely stare. Of course I like surprises that is sometimes. One thing I knew before we ever set wheel on the road. There must be a steam engine or two along the route we were to cover. There always are. But he still looked as though he was waiting for my answer. 'Oh sure,' I murmured companionably, 'but I like to know where I'm going too.'
In one of his out-of-the-way places we came to an unbelievable bridge. It was a dual purpose structure, very old, apparently, but still in daily use. On one side the train had a track crossing it, and right next to that ran our one way road. There was only a low divider between. But it was very evident that the train and a car were not to cross it simultaneously. A sign informed us, DO NOT CROSS WHILE TRAIN IS CROSSING. And when I saw that bridge I wasn't about to argue with that sign. I inwardly agreed to let the train have it all to itself. I'd gladly wait, any time. In fact I heaved a little sigh of thankfulness when we were safely across.
Definitely that bridge between Mosinee and Dancy belonged to an earlier era. I could visualize horses and carriages clopping and rolling across it on hot summer days. And I wondered what would have happened to a skittish horse and his unfortunate followers had a train come unexpectedly upon him. I will put this down as surprise No. 1.
Our next adventure was visiting a flea market with tables set up in the edge of a growth of pine. The sellers were waiting for their customers, comfortably seated in the shade. But it was mostly 'women's stuff' so we didn't stay long. I have enough 'women's stuff' now for another lifetime. One witty neighbor of mine commented that 'we spend the first half of our lives collecting so much stuff that it takes the second half of our lives to take care of it.' Is that truth, or is that truth, all you collectors?
As we drove on toward whatever we were driving toward, we were surprised again by the acres upon acres of blossoming potatoes between Merrill and Antigo. How could it be? That many potatoes? Who could possibly eat them all? The fields surrounded the houses in neat circles. All you would need is a five tined fork and a pushy foot an hour before dinner.
By now I learned we were headed for a small town named Wabeno. But that is all I knew. The sun beat hot upon us as we made the last miles. It was early August and the middle of the day.
One of the quaintest things we saw all day, was as we neared Lily, on Highway 52. Here were two peak-roofed small buildings somewhere between a chapel and a large pig coop in size. They stood side by side with a neat strip of green grass growing in between. What were these two, we asked each other? Finally we settled for his and hers houses for two people who could neither live together nor apart. We are probably terribly wrong, but it was fun imagining.
When we reached Wabeno it didn't take long to see that something special was going on. The music of a merry-go-round came drifting across a murky stream. Yes there was one steam engine there, too. It was a beautiful Case owned by Frank Sinnard and Milton Lange.
Next to this was parked a Phoenix Log Hauler weighing 18 Tons. It was rated at 100 H. P. and traveled at a speed of 6 to 8 miles an hour. In its day it pulled 25 sleigh loads of logs out of the woods. The boiler was tested for 240 lbs. of pressure and the safety valve was set at 125 lbs. It was used only in winter on iced roads. Front wheels are now replacing the sled. It was built in the early 1900s. They told us there were only two others like it, one in Cedar Falls, Iowa and the other one in a museum.
A truck loading contest was going on as we purchased our tickets. This was strictly today, as huge hooks picked up the logs and placed them on waiting trucks. Then the contestant must again unload these logs, and was timed for the procedure.
Next came tree felling where chain saws were used and the contestant must estimate where his log was to fall and set a flag there. These substitute trees were naked logs set into the ground to form a small skinny-looking forest.
But the best surprise of the day came when a rather clumsy appearing work horse was led out into the center of activity. He was a trained logging horse who took oral and sign directions from his trainer. All was quiet as he performed. The horse's alert ears were perky and waiting. At a shouted order this intelligent animal toted the log he was dragging behind him in any direction his owner ordered him to. Then he directed him toward this naked forest and took the horse and log to the other side with only signs and oral instructions. If the log caught on a tree the horse disengaged himself by the trainer's orders. He then continued on his way until he emerged from the other side. We sat there speechless until a very stout lady walked in front of us wearing exceedingly tight stretch pants. The comment came from next to me that they should have been red. I shuddered. How can any woman show up that way? What has happened to our dignity? The entertainment went on with a pulp throwing contest, and then to teams of two who got on a log in a pool of water to see who could stand up the longest. It seems they have a name for it birling.
So it was we ended our day at the 8TH ANNUAL LOGGING EXPOSITION and DIAMOND JUBILEE at Wabeno. We returned home happily tired after a new experience. As I turned it all over in my mind that night I thought about life being like that. Always new surprises along the way. And when finally we who are Christians cross that bridge over into glory, that will be the best surprise of all.