Why, Why, do old engineers come back every year?

436 N. Library

(This is a report that should have been put in long ago. Mr.
Dugan sent us pictures and this report in separate envelopes. I
never received the pictures. The report was made up and sent to the
printers and was to be in March-April 69 issue. As sometimes
happens, in all businesses it has been lost. I had to write and get
another copy from the man. It deals with the summer of 1968, but
here are other stories in it from long ago and it is interesting
and I think you all will enjoy it.)

Waterloo, Illinois 62298 My 19th annual trip to the Midwest Old
Settler’s Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and the Northwest I
enjoyed more than all other trips, and it seems to get better every
year. On August 24, 1968, I packed my suitcase and got my aero-
plane ready for take-off. Sunday morning, August 25, I went to
church with my wife and came home for breakfast. My wife took me
out to the airport, and I warmed up my little T-Craft. I kissed my
wife and said, ‘I will see you when the show is over.’ I
took off, circled the airport, climbed to 4500 feet, and headed my
little ship 335° for Mt. Pleasant. After flying over St. Louis,
Quincy, and Keokuk, in two hours I circled McMillian Park and set
down at Mt. Pleasant Airport. I taxied up to the gas pump and the
airport manager (a very courteous fellow) came out. He filled my
plane with gas and helped me tie it down for the reunion duration.
Then he said to me, ‘I will take you into town.’ Right here
is where the good old hospitality of Mt. Pleasant started to burst

He drove me to Mrs. Charles Volmer, who lives just across the
street from the main gate of McMillian Park. I have been staying
with her for the past years a very nice person, indeed. After
paying my room rent and unpacking, I went over to the park.

All the engines were pulled out and filled with water, just
waiting for their masters to fire them up. There, among them was
Wm. 0. Sater’s 20 hp. Return Flue Avery, which I always run. I
said to myself, ‘Old Boy, I will fire up in the morning.’
There weren’t too many people around as yet. I met a few of the
old timers including Mr. Conrad, who runs the Under-mounted Reeves.
We went into town for dinner at the little lunch counter across
from the court house a fine place to eat. Then we returned to the
park and spent the afternoon meeting the old timers coming in. I
could feel the air pollution getting thicker.

Monday morning came, and I steamed up the old Avery and groomed
her for the show. Tuesday morning came, and so did Oliver Rehg,
from Meadville, Pa. I could notice the air was more polluted than
ever. Oliver Rehg is the fellow who was running McMillian’s
Case engine. The water tender was leaking and upon examination he
found a yellow jacket’s nest in the corner of the tank. He
claimed they stung holes in it. Now, that I still don’t

The first day of the show came, and Mr. O’Sater said I was
elected to go over and furnish power for the cane press, which was
operated and managed by Roy Edkmeier from Donnelson, Iowa. They
were a fine group of fellows to work with, and I stayed on the
press every day until noon, when I took my engine over to join the
cavalcade of power. When that was over, I went back to press cane

One of my boys and two daughters and their children came up from
Waterloo, Illinois, over the weekend in a camper. They, too, had a
great time; it was their first time up here. On Tuesday morning
when the show was over (Sept 6) they took me out to Mt. Pleasant
Airport on their way home. I untied my little plane and took off
for Jamestown, North Dakota.

My first stop was DesMoines, where I had coffee and then took
off for Sioux City. The weather report was bad. I had a cold front
to go through and did not know what was in store for me. About half
way between DesMoines and Sioux City I could see the front
approaching. It started to rain; it got thicker and the rain
harder. It seemed like Sioux City wasn’t coming up very fast.
All at once I spied the river and I knew I was just a few miles
from the airport. I landed, had lunch, and looked at the sky. It
was a little light in the direction I was going, so I decided to
give it a try. About forty miles out I burst into the clear, but
bucked quite a head wind. I arrived at Jamestown, North Dakota, at
5:30 that evening with the sun still high in the sky. I surprised
my brother-in-law, who lives in Jamestown, with an unexpected phone
call. He came to the airport to get me, and I stayed with him over

The next day I wanted to go out to Pettibone, which was sixty
miles further. -Joe said, ‘I am going to Pettibone tomorrow, so
you can leave your plane here at the airport and go along with
me.’ First, we drove all over Jamestown to see all that was to
see, for I used to work as an auto mechanic there off and on some
years back. Then we drove out to Pettibone, North Dakota, where the
rest of my wife’s family live. I visited with them all and had
plenty to eat. This is a story that I must relate to you. I have
seen it and heard it many times from two old Danish people who came
to North Dakota from Denmark to homestead sometime before 1900. The
Mrs. has passed on, but old Walter still lives. I am sure to visit
him every time I go to North Dakota, and he now lives in the little
town of Pettibone. I was running a straw burning engine on a
threshing outfit back about 1921. We moved to Walter’s place
late one evening, and it looked like rain. Walter called me in and
said, ‘Dugan, have a cup of coffee.’ They tell me he used
to keep the old coffee pot on the stove all the time. Anyway, he
drank three cups while I tried to gargle one. Boy, it was strong!
The pot was black when I got through with my coffee. Walter said
supper would be ready later. I went out, moved the outfit to where
we were going to thresh, and got it ready for the night. Sure
enough it was raining the next day. We had his job and two others
to do that Fall. Believe it or not, for three weeks we were at his
place trying to get his crop threshed. We almost ate the poor old
soul out of house and home, but we fixed all his fences, hauled
manure, and did many other things while we were waiting for good
weather. We also kept a man on the road to town getting shells to
shoot ducks, pheasants, and what have you. This is the part of the
story that Old Walter never forgets to relate to me every time he
sees me. You can imagine a thirteen man crew, engineer, fireman,
straw monkey, separator man, water hauler, and eight bundle team
drivers all playing poker in the hay mound in the evening. One of
the bundle drivers called Jim studied to be a doctor but never did
practice. He was very smart and had traveled all over the world.
The straw monkey was a local fellow, a school teacher, also well
educated and of good character. He never played cards, smoked, or
drank. This evening they were all playing poker, but Jim and the
straw monkey were arguing about the leaning tower and the big
cathedrals in foreign lands. Jim claimed he saw them all, and the
straw monkey only read about them. About this time, one of the
fellows came in with a gallon of white Russian moonshine. The jug
went around and round, but the straw monkey wouldn’t drink, so
Jim kept right on arguing with the straw monkey until he got him to
take a swig out of the jug. The straw monkey got to feeling so good
that he started to contradict Jim. Finally the straw monkey got too
much and passed out. Then is when the fun began. Jim said,
‘Fellows, the straw monkey has passed on. We will have to wake
him and make plans for his funeral.’ So, we picked six of the
fellows as pall bearers; they also were getting weak from the jug.
They laid the straw monkey in his grave and covered him up with
hay. Jim preached a lengthy sermon, not very spiritual, but pretty
much outspoken. When the funeral was over and the jug was empty,
the whole crew seemed to be passing out one by one.

The next morning they all got out for breakfast. The straw
monkey got out too, but he looked pretty tough. Jim remarked,
‘I thought we had a funeral for you. How come you are up?’
The poor fellow was so embarrassed and his intelligence so insulted
that he left without breakfast and never worked on the outfit
anymore. I guess he went where they fired coal. After Walter had
related the story to me once more, he said, ‘Dugan, have a cup
of coffee before you go.’ It looked like the same old pot, but
the coffee might have been stronger. So goodbye, Walter. I will see
you next year, as I must be shoving off.

My brother-in-law, Joe, took me back to Jamestown to my plane,
and I took off from there at 10:30 Friday morning, September 6. I
stopped off at Mitchell, South Dakota, and took off for Sioux City,
where I lunched. It was good flying stopped at DesMoines took off
for Mt. Pleasant got there at 5 o’clock. I was tired, so I
called up my dear friends, Bill and Helen Sater. Bill came to the
airport to get me, and I spent the night with them. Bill took me
all over Mt. Pleasant and showed me the town. Last of all he took
me to the light plant, which is operated by steam. Next morning
Mrs. Sater got us a wonderful breakfast and Bill took me out to the
airport. In two hours I was home. It all passes too soon. More
pleasure was-packed in those two weeks than I could ever put on
paper. So now I am marking time until the 20th Annual Midwest Old
Settlers Reunion. As ever, Old Steam Buddies.

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