A 'Short' Story

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1264 N .Harrisville Road, Ogden, Utah 84404

Once upon a time I was visiting my Uncle Rollie McNally near Lomon, Missouri. Naturally, the conversation eventually turned to old gas engines.

Uncle Rollie said, 'I know where a small one is, but I haven't seen it for probably fifty years.' I asked if he was sure it was still there and if he could find it again. He answered 'yes' to both questions.

He said some people in Chicago, years ago, had inherited the property it was on, and they never came to look it over or care for it. Needless to say we were soon in my four-wheel drive headed for a look.

We soon left the gravel road and drove along brush and horse weed covered trails. We crossed a small creek and up a small hill to a fair size stand of timber where we left the pickup and proceeded on foot.

When we got to the top of the hill Uncle Rollie said, 'Look close now, that engine is right about here.' We searched and searched, around and around, under the trees, in the sparse brush, it was the same old story, no engine.

I was discouraged, tired, and hungry, it was away past dinner time. I glanced up through the thick leaves at the sun to estimate the time of day. I was amazed to glimpse what looked like a flywheel. On close inspection we could see that engine thirty feet up in a hickory tree. I climbed up to the engine, it had a cast brass plate which read: 'Southern Engine & Boiler Works, Nashville.'

It was headless with a flyball governor on a sideshaft. Boy, I wanted that engine. But how was I to get it down, undamaged ? Dinner was now forgotten. We decided to pull the tree over with the winch on the front of the pickup.

I always carry a small sharp axe along with a chain, come-a-long, Handy-Man jack, crowbar, and shovel. We chopped some small trees and managed to get the pickup close enough. I climbed almost to the top of the tree and pulled the winch cable up with a small rope and secured it to the tree-top. I let down the rope and Uncle Rollie sent up the axe.

I trimmed the limbs off down to the engine. We managed to winch and back-up until we had the hickory tree-top clear down to the ground. We slid the engine along the trunk almost to the end where one limb still remained by the winch cable. Uncle Rollie grabbed the axe and gave a careless swing, he cut off the limb, and also severed the tree-top. That hickory snapped back into the air like a whip.

It was the last we saw of that engine for quite awhile, as it was going southeast at an altitude of about one hundred feet. We climbed over the fence and started after the engine. We again searched and searched.

Aunt Jessie McCallister, an old widow, lived alone about a quarter of a mile away on a direct line from where we last saw the engine. We finally got her permission to search her cow pond which was muddy and about three or four feet deep.

I waded in clothes and all, and found the engine in the middle buried in the mud. We went back and got the pickup and drove fifteen miles around. We put a cable on the engine and winched it out.

We couldn't convince Aunt Jessie that it was our engine, and it had fallen out of the sky into her pond. She drove a hard bargain, and I finally wound up paying her two-hundred dollars for it.

You never know where you may find an engine, be sure to also look in tree-tops.