The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society P.O. Box 1002 Century, Florida 32535
Sawmill Day 1993, in Century, Florida, dawned with ominous skies. The early May date saves us the competition of the fall show season, but subjects us to the caprice of spring weather. This year we had the engine show on the huge lawn of the old Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company office building, right in the middle of everything. Gary Godwin graciously hosted that portion of the overall event and made certain that all the rusty iron men were made to feel welcome. We have noticed that threatening weather tends to keep distant travelers away from a one-day event. Even so, I recognized folk from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. We ended up with a fair amount of iron.
Just as parade time came, so did a rain shower. Our biggest parade had so many floats that it took over an hour to make the rounds. This year only a few brave souls ventured forth. The pretty girls didn't want to get their hair and gowns wet, so the parade was down to some police vehicles, firetruck, and a couple of tractors. Shortly thereafter the rain stopped and skies gradually cleared. The out-of-towners didn't come because of continuing rain everywhere else, but in the afternoon we had a strong showing of locals from the tri-county area. The fun part of showing engines at a festival of general interest is that we end up exciting a lot of people who would never have gone to an 'engine show.'
Other activities included tours of our museum, built in the relocated and re-furbished original Post Office. Our railroad museum made its debut even though it wasn't quite finished. An interesting feature of the boxcar is that every time the roof was repaired the date would be painted on the ceiling beams. We continued the tradition. For those of you passing by Connersville, Indiana, the old Baldwin locomotive that once pulled this car on the Escambia Railroad should now be trying out its new boiler on the Whitewater Valley Railroad.
Every imaginable kind of food was available. Local talent provided us with live entertainment. Our vendors displayed a wide variety of wares. A reenactment group showed what local camp life was like during The War of Yankee Aggression. A sports auction was held. (Cleveland Browns' Anthony Pleasant and Yankees' Buck Showalter are local boys.) A Softball tournament was played. Heck, we had a pretty good day even if it did rain on our parade! In 1994, we'll try it again on May 14.
David Blackwell's rig. The tractor was built by his dad, 'Blackie,' and is painted pink, its color influenced by Blackie's wife.
An all-engine show was held at the Chinquapin (Chinky Pin) Plantation of Gary Godwin, near Wawbeek, Alabama. The rain tried to get us again, only this time it was cold because it was the first weekend in December. No matter, we had a campfire for the cold and Gary had a large, mostly-finished new barn to hole up in when the few showers that amounted to anything confronted us. There was coffee, cocoa, and Blue-grass music in the barn, tall tales by the camp fire (Raymond Taylor claims his health is so poor that he no longer buys long-playing records or green bananas), and plenty of trading and technical advice around the engine trailers.
If trading activity is an indicator for an engine show, then we had a good one. I didn't make it in until after 7 p.m. Friday (some of us have to work for a living), and a lot of trades had been made by then. That went on 'til we broke for home on Sunday. Trades based on promises made carried on through the following weekends. Another indicator is the license plate count; we had a surprising number of states represented for such a relatively small show.
We had an excellent diversity of engines, too. There were some new restorations, models, and customs. One of the favorites was the Blackwell Engine Works entry, which I will write about at a later time. David Blackwell has the unfair advantage of working at a foundry and is a real craftsman. Raymond Taylor and Jerry Shenk also display some custom and one-of-a-kind machines. There were a couple of steam engines, including a very unusual Vee twin compound rig, but none were run except some models.
Gary's piney woods retreat is an excellent place for an engine show and he has really gone to a lot of trouble putting in facilities which include hookups for the motor homes. All of us in this area are looking forward to coming back to Wawbeek next December. Maybe you can make it, too.