The following letter is from the Boiler Bulletin, an official publication of Ontario Steam & Antique Preservers Association, Box 133, Milton, Ontario. The organization sends me a bulletin each time, which I greatly appreciate. I felt this letter was worthy of passing on to all our readers. - Thanks O.S. & A.P.A. - Anna Mae.
'What are you doing this weekend?' They ask me.
'I am going to a steam show,' I tell them.
'What is a ... a steam Show?'
What do you tell them? How do you explain what a steam show is to someone who doesn't know?
I tell them that a steam show is a gathering, something like a fair, where people who have collected and restored antique farm machinery, exhibit it.
Doesn't sound too interesting does it? That's what they tell me. They ask me how I can spend two or three days watching guys driving tractors and steam engines around.
Well, first of all I tell them it's not only guys. Second, I tell them not to knock it till they've tried it.
You can't describe the feelings you get from being at a steam show. The chug chug of the tractors, the almost silent whirring of the steam engines, the different shrills and blasts from the whistles and the intermittent popping and banging sounds of the gas engines, all have to be experienced to be understood.
Seeing the antique machinery that has been beautifully restored to its original state probably fills me with as much pride as it does the owner.
The smells are not the polluted stale smells of the city, but those of life as it once was - clean and refreshing.
The sights, smells and sounds take me on a trip to a place I have never been in the past. I see the lifestyles and the livelihoods of the past. It is almost as if for a few short days, time reverses itself and I am seeing and living the hard work, and fun of the days gone by.
They ask me if I get bored. Bored! How can one be bored when every moment is an adventure? They can't even begin to conceive how much you can learn at a steam show. Not just about the past, but what you can learn from the people you meet who own the machinery.
The people you meet at a steam show are among the most interesting and friendly people you could ever hope to find. Each is an individual with his own life to lead but one common interest draws them together.
Some of them remember what it was like to rise with the chickens and plough the fields till sunset. They have many tales and stories to tell of their younger days and are only too glad to share them with anyone who will listen.
Walking around the grounds, I see things that few people now a days even realize existed. I see kitchen items such as apple peelers, cherry pitters and butter churns. I see antique buggies and farm tools and even the only band-organ of its kind in existence.
A weekend spent at a steam show is not soon forgotten. If you do go, even once, you're hooked. It's as if you can't see enough and you have to go back the next time.
The articles exhibited at a steam show help us to appreciate all the modern conveniences we have available to us. They show us that though life back then may have been exciting, it was also full of difficulty and hardship.
Few people have the chance to see these things and I feel very privileged to be one of these few. When I am at a steam show, I am filled with feelings of pride, fulfillment and joy. I am very honored to be associated with a friendly group of people who have put life and a lot of themselves into the restoration of their machines. It has to be seen and experienced to be appreciated.
So, when my friends tell me that they pity me for having to spend a whole weekend watching a bunch of old junk and strange people I simply tell them that they are the ones for whom I feel sorry.
Thank you very much Lorre, for letting us know what some of the younger people feel about steam shows. I'm sure too, this should help some who work so hard feel it is all worthwhile.