Tribute To A Friendship

| July/August 1995

717 Cloverdale Waterloo, Iowa 50703

I was lying in bed the other night looking over some old Albums and thinking to myself I should contribute more to the magazine. As I was studying some old Advance pictures I was interrupted by the phone. On the other end was Gary Yaeger, calling from Whitefish, Montana. We talked for 45 minutes regarding steam engines, our families and a possible trip out west. Before we hung up Gary said something that really got me thinking. He said, 'Tell your dad I love him and hope to see him soon.' Now, I didn't really think much about it at first but, as the night went on, I began to think about it quite a bit and decided that this was a pretty cool thing for one man to say towards another and really speak of their friendship.

So after putting off any contributions to the magazine for so long, I was inspired to write about a lifelong friendship that developed by chance at a steam show.

If I have my facts correct the year was 1959. The Antique Acres Old Time Power Show was being held at the Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, Iowa. My grandpa Shelby Bellinger, and my dad Dean Bellinger were showing their 20 horse Minneapolis at the show. It was at this show that my dad, 16 at the time, became acquainted with another 16 year old, Gary Yaeger. Gary had traveled to Iowa from Montana with a friend after reading about the show in the Iron Men Album. They became fast friends as they were both young and ambitious and had a natural love towards steam.

The two of them spent the rest of the show getting to know one another and running steam engines all over the grounds. In addition to the Minneapolis they spent a lot of time on Justin Hintgen's nine horse Case.

I have also heard my dad and Gary talk about a fondness for Cliff Vaverka's 16 horse Reeves, but I do not know if they ran it or not.