[The following article was sent to us by James O. Johnson, Dane, Wisconsin 53529. Many thanks to him and to Sheila Roznos and the Baraboo News Republic, Baraboo, Wisconsin for permission to use the picture and story.
James tells us the engine in the picture is an M. Rumely 16-48 HP -one of the very last of this model to be built - Engine No. 6832.]
You received a caressing touch there, a generous squeeze of grease here; then you were primped, polished, and lovingly and carefully loaded onto a flat-bed truck to be brought here to the Sauk County Fairgrounds for the Tenth Annual Steam and Gas Engine Show, August 17-19.
You will be admired, fondled, and considered by throngs throughout this weekend.
You will be intimately patted, and proudly and tenderly referred to as 'She'. They will parade your massive black beauty and display you in all your steaming glory, as you perform that snorting, smoking, belching service that only you can deliver in your inimitable style. Hulling, pulling, shredding, threshing and sawing, you'll captivate your audience with your provocative demonstration of seething power, still to thrill another generation.
The heat and stench from your boiler will not affend or discourage your admirers. On the contrary, your smoke, and screams that pierce the air and ear will command even more respect, as men stand in silent and mysterious awe of you.
You are cherished, treasured and coveted by a growing number of steam devotees, and your place and importance in history is secure and respected.
You massive, hulking creature of iron and steel, what is this spell you weave? What is this romance that causes men to set aside their work, wife, family, and leisure to restore, maintain and possess you?
As you moved across the land, years ago, from farm to farm, your earth shaking rumble sent small children and animals in search of cover. A very brave little lad might hide behind his father's pantleg in curiosity and fear as your approach broke the pastoral peace of his childhood.
Not that your visit wasn't welcome, and looked forward to, as it surely was. Whether your presence was to saw lumber for a new barn or house, or for power in harvesting crops, you were always welcome.
Your distant signal of approach warned the women of the house, and preparations were underway in the kitchen for the arrival of perhaps a hungry horde of threshers.
You played an important role in rural midwestern life, both economically and even socially. You were part of that time when farmers were bound together by their common needs, and dependent on each other. But, your role in rural life at harvest time did carry a certain social aspect, too. Many a romance began with a piece of pie served by the young lady of the house to the shy and enamored son of a neighboring farmer.
You roved across the land and you conquered. Your proud ownership was often shared by a community of farmers, but your personal care, operation and quirks were looked after by one man. You rivaled and eventually displaced that long depended upon and faithful team of draft horses. In time, in most instances, you made peace and those powerful horses worked along side of you, and their fear and terror of you subsided.
There you stand today to remind us 'from whence we came'. You are able to make men stop, forgetting for a moment, the ultimate in modern labor saving equipment, as they talk and stroke you affectionately. And, for one hot dusty weekend in August, you reduce them to almost the level of a child with a favorite toy, in their complete delight with all that steam age powered machinery.
I believe I understand why they call you 'She'.