Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff

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6'' to the foot-40 HP Advance Rumely. Courtesy of Forest Peters, 2724 Gideon Avenue, Zion, Illinois 60099.
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1915 Case. Mr. Chas. Nelson standing with hand on coal bunker. Courtesy of Forest Peters, 2724 Gideon Avenue, Zion, Illinois 60099.
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Two beautiful engines made by Ted Lange, Hector, Minnesota, about 1955. Courtesy of Forest Peters, 2724 Gideon Avenue, Zion, Illinois 60099.
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The ''Puffer Maker Fan'' at Saginaw Valley Steam Show in August of 1969 owned by William C. Kuhl. This fan is equipped with levers to load and unload the load on the engine.
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Courtesy of William C. Kuhl, 464 So. 5th Street, Sebwaing, Michigan 48759.

We had the pleasure of renewing ‘Auld Acquaintenances’
at The National Threshers at Wauseon, Ohio, this year. The one day
we were there, Friday, it was very cold and windyevening raining
some of the time. One fellow, ‘busting’ into the men’s
parlor, exclaimed in a shivering voice, ‘Gee it’s coldwhat
a feller needs is some antifreeze.’

But the friendships were warm, even if the weather wasn’t
which Agnes had blown our way. Earlene seemed so surprised and
happy to see us. And I was relieved to hand her the next Iron-Man
story, which I always hustle to finish up, whenever going to
Wauseon, so I can hand it personally to ‘ye Editor’. (From
then on my responsibility on a story ends and hers begins). And
happy we were, too, to see Mrs. Pauline Schaefer and her husband,
Elmer, the inventor and mechanical wizard.

I always like to look over the new books on Americana that are
usually spread out on the Stemgas Publishing table at The National
Threshers. ‘Uncle’ Elmer always made it a point to
‘fetch along’ all his historic Americana publicationsbooks
with pictures of old-time automobiles, buggies and buck-board
wagons, village fire engines, covered bridges, railroad locomotives
and thresh engines, not to mention Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Books,
cartoon albums, Gas Engine Guides and Steam Engine Guides, besides
others depicting the historical and picturesque eras of the
American past.

One book that caught my eye was a new publication entitled,
‘THE THOMAS A. EDISON ALBUM’. Packed with so many photos of
the world’s greatest inventor, the volume so attracted me that
I whispered to Earlene, ‘If you’ll trust me with this book,
I’ll look through it very carefully while here.’ Which I
did. And, in doing so, was amazed at the many historic pictures of
Edison engaged in the multitudinous facets of his diversified
career which I had never seen before in the several books I’ve
read on him. There were pictures of his earliest inventions on
improving the telegraph, the early development of the phonograph,
which he invented, a view inside his ‘Talking Doll Factory’
where tiny cylinder phonograph mechanisms were being installed in
doll babies, photos of his development of moving pictures and
sound, the Edison Moving Picture Studios, the invention and
evolution of the first Nickelodeon (an offshoot from the early
phonograph and moving pictures), the invention and development of
the electric light bulb and its eventual use into municipal power
plants, just to list a few of the high-lights. But still there were
more-pictures showing the huge stone-crushing plants to develop
cheaper iron ore, the invention of cement and the pouring of entire
houses from concrete in a single day, for the working class and
those of low income. Further on in the volume are photos showing
Edison again taking up the improvement of his most-loved
‘toy’, the phonograph, when he spent millions in research
in developing the Diamond Disc Phonograph which boasted a natural
tone that couldn’t be distinguished from the real artist, the
improved Edison Recording Studios where the records were made,
Edison’s work in providing safety inventions for the Navy
during World War One, and his final great attempt to find a cheap
source for rubber.

After reading about Thomas A. Edison, I have never ceased at
marvelling how one man can be such a diversified genius as to
invent the phonograph, the electric light bulb, the municipal
electric light system, moving pictures with sound, the electric
locomotive, cement and concrete-poured houses, nickelodeons and
talking dolls, and still return to develop the phonograph into the
finest natural-toned instrument of its era way ahead of Victor,
Columbia and other competitive namesall of which transformed our
nation from a primitive prairie to the bustling civilization we
have today. This single man with but a grade school education made
the crude frontier blossom into a garden of technology. Though he
was deaf from boyhood, he gave us the purest music. And everything
else that constitutes our modern sophisticated technology and media
has stemmed from the ground work of his inventive genius. The
microphone, recorded sound, the improved telephone, electric
lights, power-tool electric motors, electric generators, concrete,
modern pre-fab housing, the storage battery, the electric railway,
moving picturesname almost anything we enjoy today and Thomas
Edison invented it during the lifetime of one man. To me he is one
of history’s greatest heroes, greater than Napoleon because he
made life better rather than taking lives, built rather than
destroyed what other men made. Yet, today, the name of Thomas A.
Edison is hardly ever mentioned in the modern classroom. Kids today
barely know such a man existed. A travesty of our times!

As I said earlier in one of these columns, I never believed the
claims of Edison that his phonograph was superior in tone to the
Victors and Columbias of the late teens and twenties, until I
purchased an old floor model. Then I became instantly convinced,
after comparing his with the rest. It was then that I began
believing, not doubting, the things that history books had been
saying all along about the genius of this solitary man.

But, convinced as I am, it’s still hard for me to understand
how a man who developed huge rock crushers to lower the cost of
iron ore and who invented cement to provide low-cost housing for
the middle-class and fabricate electric locomotives could also
develop a disc record and phonograph which reproduced the delicate
‘harmonics’ in music which the other phonograph
manufacturers and engineers of his day could not. But he did! And
it would profit the education of our youth, and us, too, to avail
ourselves of how such a great genius lived and produced to make the
lives of everyone more liveable and enriched.

Before we left Wauseon, Earlene Ritzman called me over to her
stand and handed me a package, folded up in a crumpled paper sack.
‘Joe, don’t open this until you’ve left the
grounds,’ she said. On the way home, I opened the package and
there was the copy of ‘THE THOMAS A. EDISON ALBUM’ which I
had been perusing. I am so thankful to Earlene and certainly was
not expecting such a grand surprise.

The more I leaf through its pages, the more I like the Edison
Album. And I would certainly urge any man of an inventive, creative
nature, or who is interested in the history of our nation’s
rise in industrial-technical leadership, to invest the $12.95 and
send it to Earlene Ritzman at STEM GAS PUBLISHING CO., Enola, Pa.
17025, for a copy.

And I might suggest that, if you ever get around the STEM GAS
PUBLISHING CO. table, where Earlene sells the IRON MAN ALBUM, THE
GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE-and the historic books we all love to browse
throughby all means strike up a conversation with Elmer Schaefer
who usually can be found close by. Let him tell you what he does in
the field of mechanical invention. To me, he is one of our modern
engineering geniuses and to listen to him tell of his thousands of
experiments in developing new machines to make life better, you
will sort of get a personal glimpse into the same kind of mind that
made Thomas A. Edison work. One never knows how hard an inventor
works until he talks to one. And this is a rare privilege, as well
as a most interesting and rewarding one-just to let Elmer Schaefer
relate some of his experiences in the field of invention and
experimentation. My late uncle, Milton Dunkelberger (another
Pennsylvania Dutchman), was also an outstanding inventor having
invented and developed the first remote-controlled toy electric
train in the world, not to mention numerous inventions in fishing
rods (The Stubby Rod & Reel), fishing lures, and many gadgets
in advertising, one of which included a tiny automatic phonograph
(similar to an old Edison) which explained Frigidaires the instant
a customer opened the refrigerator door to look inside. It was the
first time a refrigerator ever talked back to the customer! Having
seen Uncle’s many accomplishments over my boyhood years, I can
better appreciate such geniuses as Elmer Schaeferand Thomas Alva
Edison. (Pauline, you can be justly proud of Elmer.)

After we left the IRON-MAN stand, and took in the sights along
the many exhibits and concessionaires at The National Threshers, I
couldn’t help but overhear a lady complaining to a friend how
her teeth hurt her. She was telling how painful it was trying to
chew her food, due to her poor-fitting dentures. The thought struck
me how many people, both young and old who have dentures, suffer
instead of enjoy their meals. And when a person is thus pained,
they cannot properly chew their food, their health suffers, their
bodies do not get the proper nutrition they need. Indigestion racks
their frames, causing sickness and many related ailments. They
think their stomachs and digestive systems are out of order,
whereas it’s only their chewing that’s causing the trouble.
If only they would go to their drugstore or discount shopping
center and purchase the EZO DENTURE PADS, learn to press both the
upper and lower pads into each plate under warm water, until there
is a snug fit, they could chew well, even popcorn and raspberries,
almost as if they had their natural teeth. There are no pastes or
cements to squeeze or crumble in the mouth. Yet the EZO DENTURE
PADS last almost a week, even during cleansing. Now Edison
didn’t invent these pads, but we have a sneaking feeling that
one of his earlier laboratory experiments might have contributed
something to the realm of human knowledge that made them possible
later on. My book tells me that Edison even enjoyed helping sick
friends get well by some of the chemicals he developed and that his
cures ran a higher percentage than the local Medics. It is little
wonder that Henry Ford once said of him, ‘Edison has created
millions of new jobs, made jobs more remunerative, and has done
more to abolish poverty than all of the politicians, statesmen and
reformers put together.’

Although it is not our policy in these columns to plug denture
pads, or claim that Edison invented them we will not hesitate to
suggest anything beneficial that might make life more liveable for
the steam threshermen and their kin who attend a steam engine
reunion. But well wager that, had Edison overheard the complaint of
the lady who couldn’t chew her food, he’d have stayed up a
few extra hours into the night until he’d have invented a good
denture pad so she could eat in comfort.

And now to illustrate how little things lead to bigger things
which we hadn’t expected. When we attended Easter Sunrise
Services this spring, I learned that the name of the new
Presbyterian Pastor was Rev. Edward Sensenbrenner. As a result, we
wound up attending services at the First Presbyterian Church in
Troy, Ohio. And at the close of the Sunday School, I told Rev.
Sensenbrenner that I had bought a little Edison Phonograph that had
a metal nameplate on it which read, ‘Sensenbrenner’s Watch
Shop, Circleville, Ohio’. He at once replied, ‘That was my
grandfather. I want to come out and see it. After the morning
service, we felt we had heard one of the finest sermons in many a
month. A few weeks later a knock came on our shop door, and there
was Rev. Sensenbrenner who introduced his father who had been Mayor
Sensenbrenner of the city of Columbus, Ohio, for fourteen years.
‘We came to see the little Edison Phonograph,’ the Reverend
said.

We found both Rev. Sensenbrenner and his father quite
interesting people who valued the things of the past. ‘Dad has
his garage so full of old things, in Columbus, that he can’t
get his car inside,’ laughed the preacher.

A 28-50 Hart-Parr I own and it is working on the Puffer Maker
Fan. Kevin Weeks, my helper, is standing in front of tractor.

Rev. Sensenbrenner went on to tell us that he had saved two old
Edison phonographs from his grandfather’s watch shop, which he
valued very much, along with numerous other memories. (Later,
during his open house, we went there to see them.)

After our distinguished visitors had left that day, I
couldn’t help but reflect-how little things lead to bigger
events. Just because I had innocently and unknowingly purchased a
little old antique phonograph, with a certain name tag under its
lid, I had become acquainted with a very fine preacher of the
Gospel, a whole new and thriving congregation, and my wife and I
enjoyed the visit of a distinguished mayor from the capital city of
Ohio.

Often the little things we do lead to larger, more significant
results! Often, in The New Testament, a sick or deformed invalid
was healed of his affliction by merely a word or two he answered to
the Savioror a mentally-deranged maniac was restored to his right
mind by what his father or mother said to the Master.

Only nine words transformed a thief during his last hour on a
cross during the agony on Calvary. A woman, suffering from an issue
of blood for years, was suddenly healed after touching the hem of
His garment in the crowd, and a boy was miraculously healed of
epileptic siezures when his father answered Jesus with a few words,
because he couldn’t.

Blind Bartimeus was made to see, simply because he cried out to
the Lord, when He was passing by even though the disciples tried to
quiet him from doing so.

Often the innocent words we say, the little things we do like
tiny seeds, into mighty oaks they grow. Whether it’s an
insignificant tag on a phonograph lid, or just something we say in
passing, without thinking the consequences can often be
frightening, leading to good or to bad. Let us watch what we say,
and what we think.

‘Thou shalt be judged for every idle word,’ says the
Scripture. Let us make our words, and our deeds lead upward toward
the higher ground that our seeds grow into mighty oaks and not
weeds.

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