James McGinnis of Vanessa, Ontario, Canada taking water in his 18-20 Water-loo Steamer September 16, 1949
Report of the third reunion of Zehr's Central States Steam Engine and Thresher Historical Association held near Pontiac, Illinois
The third annual reunion of Zehr's Central States Steam Engine and Thresher Historical Association was held September 12 through 16th at 4 H Park, near Pontiac, Illinois.
Wednesday, the first day, many visitors came from a distance and also local communities. The weather was fine except in the evening We had a heavy rain. The evening of the 11th the threshers and the Pontiac J C's staked a very large parade headed by the Pontiac Clown Band followed by a Stanley Steamer with Alvin Otto as engineer, and H. J. Lucksinger (Father Time), L. K. Wood, and Dan S. Zehr, as dignitaries. Several steam engines including an Under mounted Avery, and many model steam engines, the Chebanse Volunteer Fire Department, and the Pontiac High School Band of 75 pieces with Professor Jack North as director, followed by the eleven contestants for the title of Queen of the Threshers, Miss Steam Engine, was in the parade. Miss Steam Engine was chosen and crowned on Wednesday evening, during the heavy rain. She was Miss Pat King of Elpaso.
Thursday morning the sun came out bright and warm. At 12:30 our good friend Arthur C. Page of radio station WLS, Chicago, was present to broad cast the dinner bell hour, with our faithful friend Dr. John W. Holland, the loved radio pastor. Thursday was the largest attendance day to date, having an estimated 13,500 persons present. In the evening Professor North and his famous band and the Chief City quartette, had charge of the program.
Friday was another very fine day with the crowd estimated at 7,000. More than 45 large steam engines and many various models were there, all taking part in all of the activities, threshing, shelling, sawing and engine driving. Our good friend Lucksinger was on hand with his Muly saw mill doing its stuff, in a very creditable manner. His associate and superintendent of saw mills, was our very fine friend, A. S. McDonald of Trivoli, Illinois, who had a good time and did a swell job at his work. He had just celebrated his 89th birthday, the previous month. John Vielle of Pontiac, had his all steel modern portable mill there operating every day. His mill was powered by the 18 Under mounted Avery owned by yours truly. Jack as we call him, had to saw the big logs down so the two boys on the Muly could handle them. This Muly saw and the operator, Mr. Lucksinger, attracted much attention as many of the older saw mill men had never seen one operate before. Mr. Blaker was kind enough to loan us his Prony Brake, and also his operator, Paul Curtis to help our show along. This was all very much appreciated by the officers and visitors.
A parade of the models was scheduled as least three times each day, which seemed to attract the attention of many women as well as men. The men who did the deck work were really busy, as were those in the secretary's office. The men at the gates were also very busy as the jam of cars over a mile ling each day kept ticket men engaged. Many of the J. C.'s helped with this.
Friday evening we were entertained by Professor Eiffel Plasterer and his son who put on a very interesting show with soap bubbles. This was followed by a colored film lecture by Professor Albrecht of the far North land.
Yesterday and today in the life of a Rough and Tumble Thresherman. Outfit of John S. Weidman, Stevens, Pa., threshing stacks yesterday and through a bridge today. This happened on the boundary of Cay and Cocalico townships in Pa. Mr. Weidman was obliged to get the engine out himself and was unable to collect a cent for damages and loss of time.
Saturday was a school day for the children and there were plenty there and all seemed to enjoy themselves. It did seem a bit discouraging during the beginning as our secretary, Chas. B. Ben net, suffered a heart attack which caused us to employ a temporary secretary in the person of Miss Jean Roberts, only daughter of our loyal director and Mrs. Roberts. Some of you will remember seeing Jean on her father's Frick engine a few issues ago of the ALBUM. Jean got right in and pitched during the emergency.
On Saturday evening the members and their friends had charge of the entertainment with Mr. W. D. Spense of Fairbury as M.C. He did a commendable job. I am sure he must have put much time on it as he had many old time bands there with their fiddles and there was a lot of good square dancing. A group of young man from Saunemin, Ill., were really good and their attitude to ward the organization was above reproach. The skit, Buying a Threshing
Rig' got along very well until a very good looking blond sales lady tried to sell the outfit, a Caserig, to our friend Guy Herron of Churubusco, Ind., who was also a Case agent, so it wound up by having at least three of the members on the floor trying to get the blond's address and telephone number.
On Sunday morning all was quiet among the engines and exhibitors. At 10:30 a religious service was held in the large tent near by. Dr. and Mrs. Fitz led the singing and accompaniment This was the first time it had been our privilege to hear the Reverend Elmer Ritzman preach. It was a marvelous sermon and there were many compliments, even if one of the horses on the tread power got loose and started to come to hear Elmer preach. It was very fine Elmer, do it again for us next year.
No definite record was kept of all of the states which were represented but there were more than last year. The daily papers estimated that over 50,000 people had been here during the four and one half days. We are indeed grateful that no accidents were reported. Mr. Hinson had a slight heart attack out was able to go home with his model on Monday. Some of the new model members seemed to enjoy this fellowship and many have resolved to go home and make a model too. Our good friend L. K. Wood of Mendon, Utah, was present and had traveled over 1,600 miles to attend. His presence always gives a lift and courage. Thanks brother Woods.
Catherine Ritzman was with her boy friend and I am sure they enjoyed themselves and met a lot of fine friends.
A lot of credit is due Mr. Vernon Reed, W. Collins, L Kinsinger, and many others who worked so faithfully during the long hours. It was indeed a privilege to have Mr. and Mrs. Woods of Des Moines, Iowa, with us. The Woods' used to build steam engines. Another distinguished guest was Mr. Vincent Rumely, a grandson of the late M. Rumely also a former builder of threshers and steam engines. Mr. Rumely is Vice President of Crane Co., the large plumbing supply manufacturer. Come again Vince.
All in all, everything went well and we owe a great debt of gratitude to a lot of people who helped make this one of the largest and most successful reunions held so far.
Two views of Mr. J. H. Whitbey's M. Rumely 20 hp No. 6785 built in 1913. Mr. Whitbey is from Fort Wayne, Ind. This engine is equipped with a locomotive bell and whistle of a scrapped locomotive PRR engine No. 5407. Mr. Ted Griner of Fort Wayne, adapted the whistle to the engine. This engine pulled 75 hp on the Prony brake at Alvordton. Mr. Whitbey is on the right of the top picture and Mr. Griner to the left.