Co-Chairman, Communications International J. I. Case Heritage Foundation, Inc. 204 East Melbourne Ave. Silver Spring, Maryland, 20901
An old adage says: 'When it rains, it pours!' At Kinzers, PA on August 20-the final day of this year's four-day 2nd Annual International J. I. Case Heritage Exposition, it did rain and it poured. But, what happened couldn't detract from what was, for most of those who participated in this event, a totally rewarding experience. And, remarkably, the crowds of people kept coming in the rain. In fact, persons in the parking of cars reported in amazement that as the parking fields grew soggy, people were asking for tractor assistance to pull their cars INTO parking spaces.
'They saw the mud, but that didn't stop them,' a member of the show committee for the hosting Rough and Tumble Engineers' Historical Association reported. 'I've never seen anything like it.'
The first three days of the show brought out such great and enthusiastic crowds from all over the continent and from as far away as Australia that it was hard to believe so many dreams could be coming true at one time. Literally thousands of people lined the fence around the enclosure which serves as the outdoor stage for Kinzers' daily 'Pageant of Threshing' on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Then, on that rainy Saturday, in spite of the weather, people came to Kinzers in droves and many of them obviously were determined to enjoy themselves no matter what. The big closing day parade, the 'Pageant of Threshing' and other outside, unsheltered events had to be cancelled, but, under the Case Expo Tent and in the many other exhibit structures on the grounds, the crowds found protection from the weather and interesting things to watch and talk about. At times when the rain slackened, they were outside again, slogging through the puddles and the go to see as much as they could see. And, there was plenty to see at this year's Expo.
For instance, there were 13 Case steam engines, including a rare 1887 10 HP portable exhibited by Richard Roy of Branchville, NY; Willis Able's magnificient 1912 110 from Finleyville, western Pennsylvania; Carl Tuttle's 1910 30 HP from Howell, MI; and another distant traveler, a 75 HP Case brought from Southampton, NY, by John Degen and Roy Dun-well. But those who might think this big, international Case show was mostly steam, you have another think coming. There were Case tractors in great abundance and variety.
At least 38 Case gas tractors, some of them very rare birds, indeed, were in the line-up. Otis Astle, past president of the hosting Rough and Tumble Engineer's Historical Association, a member of the Case Heritage Foundation's Board of Directors and overall program director for the 1988 Reunion/Expo, certainly set a good example by bringing his 20-40 and one of the several Model L's displayed at the Expo. He also brought an R Case, plus a 28-inch Case Threshing Machine. Ronald Rolfe checked in from Schohare, NY, with a 1917 10-20 three-wheel, while Tony Wells' line-up of several beautifully restored tractors was led by his 1917 15-27 and even included a magnificent 1959 900B pulling tractor. Herb Wessel's exhibits included a 1918 20-40 and 1929 25-45. Vern Neitzke and 'Sara Sue' (his mannekin 'friend' who always has the Expo crowds chuckling) brought his recently acquired VC all the way from Grand Blanc, MI, and Bev Hughes came from 'north of the border'-Ilderton, Ontario-with her newly restored RC.
Other Case tractors were exhibited by Titus Brubaker, III, Brookville, FL, a 1927 22-40; Fred Esbenshade, Quarryville, PA a 1926 25-45; J. Clyde Burkholder, Mountville PA a 1921 10-18; David H. Reed of Elk-ton, MD, a 1937 RC; Walter Z. Martin of Lititz, PA, a CC; Charles R. Noonan of York, PA, who brought several excellent exhibits (a 1930 L, 1950 S/orchard tractor and a 1952 D, plus a scale model L with matching plow); Ben Reese of Quarryville, PA, a 1953 VAS 22 HP; Charles Brosius of West Grove, PA, with another VAS; C. Everett Young of Kinzers with his recently acquired SI/air-borne military tractor; Carl Simpson of Hockessin, DE, a 1950 SC with 1945 Case two-bottom plow; and A. K. Kissel of Newark, DE, a DC restored by the Ag-Mechanics Student Program at Newark and donated to the Rough and Tumble Museum.
Also, John Railing of Holtwood, PA, an LA tractor; Edward T. Reese, Quarryville, PA, a Case grader; Mr. & Mrs. Merrill Sheets who came all the way from Delaware, OH, with a 1935 RC Case and a 1919 8-16 International, which was displayed in recognition of Case's current tie with IH; Roger Gerhart, a 1969 4WD Traction King; Earl Mast of Parkesburg, PA, a 930 Case; Frank Golembieski of Gettysburg, PA, a 1952 DC; Fulton Owens by of Wilmington, DE, a 1953 GT 25 Terratrac Crawler; Horace Mendenhall of Peach Bottom, PA, a 1938 CC; Roland Woodward of Kennett Square, PA, 1938 CC; and Bill Dreisbach of Kennett Square, PA, an L.
Eight Case Cars were on hand for this year's Expo. Among them were three which had made the trip to the first Expo at Kinzers-Tony Wells' 1917 seven-passenger Touring Car; Tom and Joan Unger's 1912 40 'Doctor's Special' from Lewisburg, Ohio (a gathering of Case Cars is never complete unless the Ungers are on hand!); and Don Balthaser's 1914 35 Touring Car from nearby Sinking Spring, PA. The five newcomers to this year's Expo were Ronald Rolfe's 1912 40 Touring Car which was converted into a truck in 1917 (he drove it the 350 miles from Schohare, Long Island, NY to Kinzers); Charles Hart-man's 1912 four-door Touring Car from Elizabethtown, PA; Herb Wessel's recently acquired 1925 Suburban Coupe from Hampstead, MD; Stan and Katy Sill's rare (reportedly, only two in the world) 1924 Model X Roadster brought from Rockford, Ohio, under sponsorship of the Aeroquip Corporation; and Charles Johnson's 1916 40 Model T, an AACA Second Place National Winner from Alexandria, VA. For thousands of Expo visitors, it was the first time they had ever seen a Case Car, much less eight of them; and, as might be expected, these cars added a special and important touch of interest and beauty to the show.
As usual, the scale models were a constant source of enjoyment. Russ Logan from Sunrise, Florida, and Vern Neitzke, Grand Blanc, MI, traveled miles and miles around the show grounds aboard their 1/3-scales; and they had lots of company at this year's show. Stan Miner brought a 1/3-scale from Howell, MI, and Tom Wilfred of Shady, NY, checked in with a ?-scale of the 65 HP Case. The Frank Hillker family from Lakewood (near Denver) CO, brought a whole big and beautiful model of a Canadian Farm to go with Frank's 1', 2', 3' and 4'-scale models of the 1922 65 HP Case. Alex Zelanko of St. Catherine's, Ontario, exhibited a classic 1.5'-scale Case engine and matching thresher and Bob Geiger of Geigertown, PA, had a beautiful 2'-scale 65 Case, while James Latta of Hopewell, VA, brought a 1/3-scale that operates on bottled gas.
There were a couple of dozen special exhibits, including the J. I. Case 'Groundhog' thresher, brought by Harry Kline from Racine, WI, who also exhibited two gigantic Case factory whistles. Working with the engineers at the Rough and Tumble Association's stationary steam museum, Harry was all smiles when the rare 12-inch Crosby Chime Whistle sounded off-it was a spine-tingling event-that made this year's daily noon whistle at Kinzers nothing short of sensational.
As was the case at last year's Expo, Foundation Director George Hedtke's magnificient, one-of-kind boiler from the now-extinct Case 150 HP 'Road Locomotive' was a center of attraction, sitting on high ground in the midst of the Expo's tractor display. Needless to say, George made the exhibit even more of an attraction with his 'live and in person' discussions of the early history of the J. I. Case line of machinery and engines. Once wound up, George Hedtke is hard to beat as an explainer of vintage Case.
John Davidson's display of literature and photos, brought all the way from Bristol, WI, attracted a high level of attention; and so did fine materials presented by Everett Young of Kinzers and Dennis Silva of Griswold, CT. Other special exhibits in the Case Expo Tent included a piston and connecting rod display (25-45 Case tractor) by Burgoyne J. Frank of Ellicott City, Md; a farm toy display by David Brinckman of East Greenville, PA; a Case incline photo display by Foundation Vice President Chady Atteberry of Blackwell, OK, a photo display on Oklahoma Steam Engines by Foundation Director Kenneth Kelley of Pawnee, OK; a mounted Case jigsaw puzzle by William St. John of Lincoln University, PA; a wooden replica of an 1881 Case Steamer Smoke box Door by Lester E. Pierce of Stanberry, MO; and tools from Case machinery by John K. Kreider of New Holland, PA. For the first time at this year's Expo, mini-seminars and videotape presentations on educational age-heritage subjects were offered. Although some of the program had to be curtailed because of problems with the gas generator /-electrical system, the presentations that did go on were both well-attended and well-received. Special thanks are due the following Foundation members for their participation as lecturers: George Hedtke (the 150 HP Case Road Locomotive and Other Legends), Neil Heesacker and Tony Wells (Tractor Restoration), Joe Ertle of Scale Models (Farm Toy History and Collecting), Everett Young (Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Ag-Heritage), and Chady Atteberry (The Case Steam Engine Incline).
On Saturday evening, the Foundation held its annual membership meeting, a banquet attended by almost 200 persons. Tony Wells and Kenneth Kelley were reelected to new four-year terms on the Foundation's 11-member Board of Directors; and Rick James, Public Relations Manager for the J. I. Case Company presented awards to exhibitors traveling the greatest distances to this year's Expo.
Following the banquet, the directors met and elected Thomas G. Lee of Calhoun, KY, as Foundation President succeeding James Briden of Fargo, ND, who had served as the organization's charter president and prior to that headed the steering committee which led to the formation of the Foundation in the spring 1987. Jim Briden continues to serve as a Foundation director. The board reelected Chady Atteberry as vice president and Helen Case Brigham of Silver Spring, MD, as secretary-treasurer. By the close of the 1988 Expo at Kinzers, the Case Heritage Foundation had almost 1,500 voting members. Major additions to the membership rolls occurred during the Expo and at other shows where the Foundation was represented this summer in the United States and Canada.
An unexpected participant at this year's Expo was the Case Eagle- 'Abe, Himself'-up close and in full feather. He came all the way from Manitoba, Canada, and was actually Foundation member Bob McMillan from Miami, MB, costumed as an Eaglistic version of Sesame Street's 'Big Bird.' He was the hit of the show and an hilarious addition to the fun at Friday evening's engine and tractor games. Since next year's Case Heritage Expo will be held at Austin, Manitoba, Bob McMillan surely will be in fine feather for that show, too. He's a member of the Case Expo coordinating committee for the hosting Manitoba Threshermen's Reunion and Stampede.
The 1989 Case Expo will be held July 26-29 at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, located at Austin and only 80 miles west of Winnipeg. The Manitoba Threshermen will be holding their 35th Reunion in 1989 and already have a large resident collection of Case engines, tractors and threshing machines at the museum.
Vern L. Neitzke brought his recently acquired Case VC, as well as his 1/3 scale model of a 1915 65 HP Case steam engine, all the way from Grand Blanc, MI. Driver in this picture is 'Sarah Sue', a mannequin who travels with Vern. 'She's pleasant company on long trips, because she never criticizes my driving.'
At a coordinating meeting held this summer, Jack Beamish, Foundation director from Hamiota, Manitoba, projected that next year's event 'will be the largest Case show ever held in Canada.' That estimate would seem to hold promise that the Third Annual International J. I. Case Heritage Exposition at Austin will definitely be a worthy sequel to 1987's Expo #1 at Pawnee, Oklahoma, and this year's Expo #2 at Kinzers.
No doubt, Expo #3 at Austin, Manitoba, will be 1989's version of 'The Greatest (Case) Show on Earth.' Persons interested in additional information about Case Heritage Foundation Membership and the 1989 Expo should contact the Foundation's Secretary-Treasurer Helen Case Brigham at 204 East Melbourne Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20901, phone: (301) 587-5552.