Old Timers Days IN XENIA, OHIO

Ken Butterworth
January/February 1998
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Rock Island engine, 1910-1920.
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2821 Wilmington Road, Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Old Timers Days in Xenia, Ohio, was held on September 25, 26, 27, 28, 1997. The weekend temperature varied from 46 degrees in the early morning to 76 degrees in late afternoon. We had very low humidity and absolutely sunny, beautiful skies. The weather could not have been better for the meeting of so many people interested in old machinery, tractors, engines, horses, mules, donkeys, and food galore.

On Wednesday evening, I drove to Xenia, Ohio, a 24 mile trip, with my two John Deere engines and a John Deere garden tractor. I arrived at 4:00 p.m. and found over 150 tractors already pre -sent. I unloaded my John Deere and then began to look things over. I looked around the grounds for two hours. I was really impressed! At 6:30 p.m. everybody was invited to come to the office for homemade ice cream and cake. The Old Timers and their wives really put on a real feed. Every single person was invited. The food was all free to everyone.

Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m., I met my cousin's wife for breakfast and then went to the Greene County Fairgrounds to work the front gate. I worked all morning taking tickets. It was really fun meeting people bringing their prize possessions to the show. I spent the afternoon and evening watching one gentleman, Charles Merriman from the Old Timers, make bean soup over an open fire in great big cast iron kettles. I think he was worried about the bean soup, but the soup turned out really great. I was really impressed! I spent hours of enjoyable time watching people bring their trucks, trailers and their own specific worldly possessions to the Old Timers Show.

Friday, September 26, I personally counted 220 tractors, 90 garden tractors, 120 engines, one shredder, three threshers, one silo cutter, one steam engine and they were still coming in every few minutes. Lots of people do not come in until Friday because of their work schedule.

Saturday morning, I got to talk to people who brought their special engines. The feature engine at the show was Stickney. One 7 HP engine came from Milton, Ontario. The engine was in perfect shape and ran real quiet. It was made in 1912. The same gentleman had a 1907, 1? HP Stickney that he found in New York, buried in the dirt. He showed me a picture of only one flywheel sticking out of the ground. He had sandblasted the entire engine and replaced all the necessary parts by himself. He is a machinist who is obviously a real craftsman. Another engine that intrigued me was a 1902 Thomas and Smith hot air engine that was pumping water. I could not really figure this engine out. A gentleman by the name of Wilbur Barnett and his son Scott had a 1913 15 horsepower Reid engine belted to a very old crosscut saw. The engine was used in Pennsylvania to pump oil. Obviously, the engine did not know it was belted to the cross cut saw. It was a really neat display. By Saturday noon there were over 200 engines all doing what they were meant to do. RUN!

Somebody taught me to shear sheep. So, Friday I sheared four sheep with a real coat of cockleburs on a year and a half's growth of wool. Saturday I sheared ten feeders lambs and Sunday I sheared 10 more feeders lambs. Lots of people did not know what I was doing. I think a lot of city people learned a lot. It is kind of fun to shear sheep and watch and listen to the comments. I have been shearing sheep after school and Saturdays for forty years. Some people do not know that wool comes from a sheep. So, everybody had fun watching me do this kind of hard job.

All four days, Russell Luse and his crew shredded corn, filled silo and threshed wheat. Each day somebody else would belt their tractor to the different machines. One particular day, a 1920 Huber steam engine was used to power the thresher. Everyone was interested in the power generated by the use of wood and a coal to produce steam to power the thresher.

Bill Finkbone had his portable saw mill working all four days. Each day a different tractor was used to saw the wood. The person supplying the trees got his wood sawed into one by fours and other appropriate sizes. A rather large pile of lumber was piled in neat piles by the end of the four days.

From Wednesday through Sunday evening the ice cream crew was busy making homemade ice cream in five gallon ice cream makers. Each ice cream maker was powered by a small gas engine. It was really neat to see people watching the ice cream being made.

The Old Timers had a horse, mule, and donkey show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They were busy each day working and showing their animals. It was fun to see the animals perform. They were great.

The flea market and craft show was a popular event. The fairgrounds was crawling with people looking at the various craft items for sale. There was something for everybody.

The feature tractor was Massey Harris and Massey Ferguson. They were well represented. The one item that attracted my attention was a self propelled Massey Harris combine. I think the cutting head was about six feet. The size of the self propelled combine was really small compared to today's John Deere combines.

John Deere tractors were the most numerous. From the huge 830 to a small BR, John Deere was there! I believe every tractor make was present. I know the following were there: Allis Chalmers, Avery, Cockshutt, Oliver, John Deere, Ford, Massey Harris, Massey Ferguson, Farmall, International Harvester, McCormick Deering, Caterpillar, Minneapolis Moline, Case, Ferguson, and Huber. If I left some out I am sorry, but I think my inventory is accurate. Over 300 tractors were finally shown at the show.

In a special tent were some valuable displays. A 1929 Ford Model A pickup seemed to be to be in perfect condition. Pedal tractors, model tractors made of wood, a working steam display, and stationary baler were some of the items in the special tent.

The garden tractor display was well represented. I know that over 150 tractors, rototillers and other small items were shown. One gentleman had a great display of John Deere patio tractors in their original colors. They all ran to perfection in their restored, painted condition.

Bigger is not always better. But, the Old Timers had the such a large display of so many different attractions that I believe no one could go away discouraged. The cost was $2.00 and Friday was senior citizen day for half price or $ 1.00.

If you are in southern Ohio the last weekend of September of 1998,. please come to Xenia, Ohio, Greene County Fairgrounds, and you will be impressed.


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