Tuckahoe Show


| January/February 1980



Wilbur Engle

Wilbur Engle custom saws by steam.

Laytonsville, Maryland 20760

The sign on Route 50 five miles north of Easton, Maryland at the showground said it was to be the 4th Annual Tuckahoe Steam and Gas Show. Somebody goofed and forgot to change it from a previous year. Really July 6, 7, 8, 1979 was the 6th annual event held on the 40 acre grounds of the Association. Appropriately it was 'hot as a firecracker', not a whisper of a breeze nor a drop of rain the whole three days. For the spectator at most exhibition grounds it would have meant living on a frying pan, but not at Tuckahoe. Its exhibit ground is laid out gracefully on a wooded site where a small brook winds through lofty trees and where protective shade is plentiful for exhibitors doing their thing and for the spectators in the many camper units which crowded the parking area. Wisely, the Association has realized the uniqueness of their home. Trees have been spared the ax so commonly applied on so many show grounds. The flea market, gas engine exhibits, the new community pavilion, even the sawmills have been blended into the forest in a random manner which invites a leisurely strole rather than a march to cadence down military rows of aligned exhibits. Tuckahoe is different.

The program said George Neal, President of the outfit, was going to run the thing with the timing of a three-ring circus under the big top.

Left to right: Bill Coppage, Ben Bright, Paul Secrist and Ross Rodes check their  recent installation of a stationary engine donated to the Tuckahoe Association by the late Jack Matthai

He tried, you have to give him that. About the only thing that came off on time was raising the flag over the judges stand of the beautiful new pavilion the first morning. Since the only way to the judges' roost was up a ladder for lack of getting around to building the stairs, once up there to make announcements on the PA system, George was in no position to prod exhibitors for punctual performance. The slick paper program was a heady list of things that would likely happen, but don't hold your breath. Nobody seemed the least interested what time Wilbur Engle started the sawmill; they were over eating homemade crab cakes at the kitchen. When the noon whistle blew (about 12:25) the eaters had gone over to the flea market, steam buffs were scrounging wood and the gas engine types were saying things mother used to wash your mouth out for, when their engines failed to start. The last thing in the mind of either cash customers or exhibitors was getting organized.

One event not on the program took place at 9:00 P.M. the night before the show opened, when Ross Rhodes tooted the whistle signaling the first head of steam in the system feeding the many stationary engines of the new exhibition building. Ross, Bill Coppage, Ben Bright, Paul Secrist and 'boss man' Tommy Booze had spent the July 4th holiday putting the finishing touches needed to connect the boiler they had salvaged from a laundry in Annapolis. Topped by a 40 foot smoke stack the exhibit building covers some 3000 square feet which is rapidly filling with displays.