The Ladies Page

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Mae Baber
Here's a picture of the ''engine and I''. MR. Vilwock is on the left, Mr. Sanger, center and I don't know the other man. Courtesy of Mae Baber, R.R. 2, Brandon, Wilconsin 53919.


The sky is embroidered with feathery pillowed clouds against a
blue as soft and restful as any sky blue I can remember. Deep pink
phlox are in blossom to my left. A white pine in needled wings
reaches toward me from the rear. Golden Glow, in full blossom
brightens up a gated corner nearby. And tiger lilies add their
tawny speckled beauty to a pleasant summer day.

You may well be asking, about now, why I am recalling summer in
the November-December issue of our good old IRON MEN ALBUM. I shall
just defend myself by saying that what I am writing may help to
fortify you for the cold days ahead. Now — back to my August

Mrs. Sanger came out to greet us when we arrived at the Loppnow
farm near Lark, Wisconsin. And let me warn you, you will have to
have an unusual map of our fair state to find Lark. It is one of
those wide places in the road which was given a name. But what a
delightful one, Lark. It is in the Green Bay area.

Mrs. Sanger immediately gave the impression of being a most
capable and friendly country woman. She chatted for several
minutes, then left for her neighboring home to prepare for the next
day. She would then be feeding the threshers. But lets return to
the ‘now’ of that August day.

Flowers and trees are behind me and beside me. Before me — well
that’s quite another matter. A case 15-45, built in 1910 is
purring along steamily, and a Mc Cormick threshing machine is
threshing the wheat from the chaff. All of a sudden I see my dear
Mr. B. is pitching weathered golden bundles into the vibrating
separator. Surely our cup of memory is full and running over

As I sit here relaxing on a folding chair I brought with me, I
have no harried thoughts of feeding as many hands as I did back in
1935. One August day, back then, I distinctly remember. There were
24 hands for dinner and supper. Our second son was two weeks old. I
had been home from the hospital five days and our other baby was
fourteen months. All I had for help was a fifteen-year-old not too
capable girl. I worked from five in the morning until nine at
night, then virtually collapsed into bed.

The next morning my mother came over and saw to it that I rested
most all day. She had also been feeding threshers at her house, so
had no choice the day before.

So — as I watch this ancient steam engine purring along
admirably for being the same age as myself, I take fresh hope.
Wasn’t she manufactured the same year I was born? I’ll
excuse a little rust on her wheels and a ripple or two in her roof.
She’s seen many a threshing day. And here I am with a camp
stool topped with a pillow for comfort. Shame! Shame! And Mrs.
Loppnow doing all that work. Yes, she even served a hearty lunch in
the afternoon, even home-baked kuchen.

Our telephone rang early this morning with an invitation to
‘come and see what is going on.’ We travelled nearly
seventy miles to get here, but it is definitely worth it. The older
we get the more crowds bother us, and it is so peaceful here in
this rural dooryard with scarcely more than a dozen people

Marvin Sanger is the owner of this engine and thresher we are
watching in operation. Down the road a spell there is a sawmill
which he ran for years. He sold it to his lifelong partner, I am
told. Now and then an elderly man comes to me with a bit of
history. One gentleman is Rheinhardt Haesy, who I soon learn is
definitely a Republican. How did we ever get on that? He informed
me that he fired the engine for Mr. Sanger for years. And he and
his wife had been married 57 years. That makes him older than the
‘Engine and I.’

Art Timm approached me with a picture taken in Morrison at their
centennial in 1954. It is of a hearse, pulled by horses, which we
estimate to be nearly a hundred years old. I’m urging Mr. Timm
to send it to The Album. About now I am getting a little confused.
From Republicans and Watergate to horsedrawn hearses all in the
shadow of a water wagon? This is a little too much!

Bob Vilwock of Plymouth is fueling up with slab wood at the
moment. Someone has to keep up the steam. My! But he’s wearing
his years well! What do you feed him, Mrs. V.? Elaine Luppnow (16)
is approaching with another load of bundles. How fresh and pretty
she looks among the rest of us. But I notice one of the veterans is
going to drive the load up to the machine.

I miss the skittish horses which used to shake their manes and
tails and stamp their feet at the flies which always tormented
them. As I recall, a horse had to be pretty well broken to risk
using him near the thresher. If you had a . old dependable nag you
teamed them up with a younger horse and took your chances.

WHOOPS! There goes the pop-off valve. It must be the steam is
having a high! That old engine still has a lot of go left in her
after all. And the Loppnow brothers are busy as summer bees.

But as for me, it only makes me think that it is rather nice,
this being retired and able to sit here and write while the young
take over our world of work. But it also says to me ‘keep up
your steam as long as you can.’ There is still a lot of work to
do for Christ on earth and possibly a very short time to do it. The
first four verses of I Tim. chap. 2 surely give us something to be
busy about. ‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all,
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be
made for all men; for kings and all that are in authority; that we
may lead a quiet and peacable life in all Godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of

Perhaps if we took this verse a little more seriously we
wouldn’t have had our summer so bedimmed by political scandals.
As I sit here at my typewriter the past and the present are merging
into our supreme privilege, that of prayer and praise. Just
yesterday we attended a Welsh Hymn Sing called Gymanfa Ganu. It was
held at a small country church about twelve miles north of here. Oh
such praise, and Oh! such blessing! One could almost imagine heaven
opening up for an afternoon. There will be another in Cambria in
October. Until then carry on, my friends. In the meantime I’m
going to learn all I can about these Welsh folk. One of our
daughter-in-laws is Welsh. So I have a double interest.

Farm Collector Magazine
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