Caught 'Topless' at Tri-State Dinner

Spart Plug Award

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Union City, Indiana

Winding up 'topless' at an invitation dinner in December, then suddenly learning you're the guest of honor and must pose in that 'half-covered' condition before the cameras and flash-bulbs a-popping -- I think I'd better explain the two missing suit coats at that shivering convention.

Little did I know, when President Woody Turner issued the 'invite,' that I was going to be the guest of honor.

Our little cat, Buster -- the only patter of little feet in our home -- was a very sick little boy. Being a member of 'the family,' we naturally were quite concerned, making whatever preparations possible for his comfort.

'Just put your overcoat on, and carry your suit coat,' came the orders from the wife. 'That way it won't be out of press when you arrive and put it on just before dinner.' (A superb suggestion, if only it had worked out that way.)

After heading in the direction of Portland, Ind., the first couple miles seemed to be going quite well, when, all of a sudden, the wife said, 'Did you bring your suit coat along?'

Naturally I had forgotten it, so back we rushed through the cold, falling snow. As I approached our door, I told my wife, 'That nice barometer hanging on the wall -- it's so obvious from the door, someone could easily see it and be tempted to steal it.'

I unhooked the barometer off the wall, and she grabbed it, saying, 'You get your suit coat, and I'll place the barometer on the table.'

But, said I, hanging the suit coat back onto the arm of a lamp, and taking the barometer out of her hands, 'I'll place the barometer down on the table. I handle it more gently than you do.'

Saying 'Goodbye to cat-Buster,' we were immediately off again like 'Off-again, on-again, gone-again, Flannigan.'

This time we actually arrived in Portland, Indiana, but were a little late by the time we asked directions, drove up and down every avenue and thoroughfare, and finally stopped where we thought the event was to be held. But when we went in, all we could see was a circle of elderly women, holding a prayer meeting.

'This doesn't look like any of the Tri-State outfit,' said I. So off we went again, in quest of finding the location of the Tri-State shindig.

After more driving, we finally came out on the right corner.

'That looks like Woody Turner's truck, and Luther Breymeyer's rig -- so this must be the place,' said I, grabbing the car keys and getting out.

'I'll bet you forgot your suit coat, again,' reminded the wife.

'HORRORS - I have,' cried I. (It was still hanging on that lamp, 30 miles away.) 'It's so doggoned late, and I'll be the only one half-dressed -- Let's just go on back home,' said I, disgusted with myself and the world. 'Besides, our cat needs doctoring and comforting, more than I need food.'

But the wife, who had gone on in to check and see if 'the gang' was all there, came back and said she had 'some words' with President Woody Turner -- and he 'ordered' me to come on in, promising he'd remove his own coat-(like Sir Walter for the Queen), so I'd feel 'at home.'

Well, when we marched in, I was 'topless,' everyone else there was fully clothed, and had their jaws buried deep in their platters. It was a cold, cold night, and I felt rather naked -- a nudist at a costume ball.

SPARK PLUG AWARDED FIRST - BUT NO HORSE BLANKET - Here I had arrived topless and the guest of honor. Woody Turner got real gallant, removing his suit coat, to match my topless condition. (Like Sir Walter removing his coat for the Queen.) My wife having rushed in to record the event with a half-frozen camera, I was crying orders to her, just as she snapped my image. I was unconsciously holding the award plaque up in front of my 'toplessness,' like a bashful male version of 'September Morn.'

Shown on the stone boat is a vertical Westinghouse 3 hp., built in 1902, owned by Winslow Curtis of Albany, N. Y. It has the water pump gears built into the engine and pumped water for many years. It is a very rare engine and is beautifully restored.

The second engine is a 3 hp. vertical International Famous, made in 1905. This belongs to Ronald Rolf of Schoarie, N. Y. It was used on a farm for general work and for sawing wood.

Both of these engines were exhibited at the 1968 Reunion of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association of Fairville, N. Y.

Having finished our repast, the time for the speech-making arrived. But I didn't know I was to be marched up-front and put on display as an honored guest.

I could see the headlines in next morning's paper - 'SHIVERING SPARK PLUG AWARDED FIRST -BUT NO HORSE BLANKET.'

Everyone began getting out flashbulbs and cameras. The wife rushed out to get my old press camera, which by now was stiff and cold. While she was trying to wrestle it into focus, like unlimbering an old arthritic man, Woody Turner dashed his 'robe' off to the floor- so I'd look less topless standing beside him (How's that for gallantry without a woman being involved in the motive?)

Naturally I was talking to my wife, orders in operating the old camera, just as she pressed the flash button and caught me 'off pose.' And, to top the fact that I was 'topless' it looks like I was holding the award plaque up in front of my 'toplessness' -- like a rather forlorn version of 'September Morn.' So now you know!