The Hampden Centennial Engine Show

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Bottom; A visitor at the engine show investigates Bob Upham's homemade 'weepup.' Cylinder is from an air compressor and flywheels are gates valve handles. In the background is a 1928 Peerless.

About a year ago in a small town called Hampden, Massachusetts, plans were being made for the celebration of the town's centennial. At this time, my husband, who'd been afflicted with 'gas engine mania' for about three years, decided no centennial celebration could be complete without an engine show. So, after receiving the okay from the select men and the promise, of support from the local volunteer fire department, IT began. The IT I refer to was months of: 'Christine, did you mail the show announcement to GEM; could you make some posters?' 'Christine, would you mind painting some signs?' 'And, oh, Christine, could you drive into the city and pick up the souvenir buttons and exhibitors ribbons?'

Needless to say, these were months when I emptied the trash, fixed the broken window, and did all the little chores I normally had help with. But, after all, what could I expect? Dave had an 8 HP Challenge (that looked like a refugee from the local junk yard) to get ready for the show and miracles are not accomplished over night! Yes, there were times during all this fuss and preparation when I almost wished my husband had never fallen in love with that first old engine. (Perish the thought!) But, with a little patience, prayer and plain old hard work, the morning of the engine show arrived with the sun smiling and the Lion's Club ladies all set and raring to go with tons of hot dogs, hamburgers and other goodies.

At 8:10 the first engines of the day arrived; my husband's 112 HP Domestic and 8 HP Challenge; Vern Rodimon's two Domestics, S HP Bull Dog and Alamo Blue Line; and Lee Pedessen came from Long Island with two immaculately restored Economies. Then came truck after truck carrying the precious cargoes, until 46 exhibitors had signed in, set up and started their engines.

Of great interest to the spectators was Charlie Bristol's International Titan which once powered the cider mill up at Kibbe's farm in town. Many local people recalled hearing it run in the Fall when cider was made.

Leonard Harrington of Monson and Bruce Jackson of Hampden each brought their saw rigs and worked all day cutting their cordwood into stove lengths.

The Bates family from Athol, Massachusetts, were there with an impressive collection of old woodworking tools and most interesting demonstrations. David Bates spent the day using an adze and hewing a perfect beam from a 10' pine log, while Oren Bates made a water pipe using a hand auger, just the way they used to do it! So many truly nice people helped make the show a success.

The air was resplendent with put BANG as several hundred people strolled from display to display, absorbed, interested and asking questions or just smiling, chuckling and remembering. Everyone was impressed and it was actually a little sad when a bit after 4:00 the last engine departed and the school ground was just a school ground again, and not the scene of a happy hubbub of earlier in the day. In fact, though worn out and weary, Dave and l sat back smiling. Every minute of the past months was made worth the effort just in knowing that it really was a nice show!