Wild, Wet, Windy, Wonderful and Noisy West Virginia

Rick Noll

Rick Noll with his equipment at the Marshall County Show.

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969 Iron Bridge Road Mount Joy, Pennsylvania 17552

Early in the morning of June 24,1998, Ed and I, along with our Pekingese traveling companions Suzie and Sammy, headed west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. (I think we should get a 'Frequent Pennsylvania Turnpike Traveler Discount' for all our trips across the state.)

Our destination this time was Moundsville, West Virginia, where the third Marshall County Antique Power Association Steam and Gas Engine Show was being held. This was our first trip to this show, and we followed instructions to Elby's on Route 2, in Moundsville. We turned down a lane that we were not quite sure was correct, then looked at each other saying, 'This must be the way.' But it was a little like following a trail in the wilderness. We crossed some railroad tracks, still not sure we were on course.

All of a sudden it was as if we had entered a new world. The beautiful tree-lined Ohio River was on our left, and a well manicured field, ready and waiting for show participants, on our right. Even though it was hot, we were psyched! Everything was so clean and pretty. Lines were neatly drawn for exhibitors and all was ready. I could see there had been a lot of effort put into this show.

At the back edge of the field was a cozy camping area with a line of cotton-wood trees that provided great shade. Spaces were equipped with electric and water. We settled in one of those inviting spots that beckoned us to 'come and rest awhile.' We were warmly greeted and treated to a free lunch of bean soup and iced tea. A little while later with the tarp up, and the dogs napping, we sat and gazed out at the mountains on the Ohio side of the river. Life was good little hot maybe, but good.

Suzie and Sammy had a nice little dachshund named Penny for a neighbor. They heeded our strong suggestions that barking was not permitted under the cottonwood trees.

Ed loves West Virginia biscuits and gravy with sausage, so he never missed breakfast prepared by Donna Evans at headquarters. Club members served steak, chicken and spaghetti for the main entrees, as well as breakfast and lunch.

On Thursday, we met some local fellows we had never seen before. One man was particularly interesting, as he told of being at the Pittsburgh TV filming of 'The Antique Road Show,' which we never miss on our local PBS station. He is a 'steel man,' who builds and repairs bridges.

Next of interest to me was Buck Stewart's Ideal gas engine named Barney. Barney is beautifully painted and restored in purple and green. A friendly little Barney stands tall and proud on this engine, as if to greet us with a smile. We had to smile back.

To our left was a young man, Rick Noll, from Wheeling. When Rick unveiled his display I was so delighted. He had a Maytag washing machine and some old Maytag oil cans. He also had a hand-powered washing machine. It was funnel shaped on the end of a stick that looked like a broom handle. That was 'BMD,' before Maytag days. He displayed a pump which ran water through an iron vessel painted green called a 'crapper.' It was from England and actually named after its designer, Mr. Crapper. The term came to America via our GIs who are known for telling it like it is. He had a colorful butter churn, and a Fairbanks Morse engine attached to a corn grinder. Hay bales were strategically placed for a good effect. On the bales, he placed some unique antique oil and kerosene cans, and a crate sized original old wooden box with a Dutch lady pushing a broom. Everything was beautifully restored. I did take pictures. Rick told me that he doesn't go to many engine shows but he does set up his display by a covered bridge in the Wheeling area where there is an annual covered bridge tour. He is a very nice young man whom I would like to adopt. The amazing thing is that many of these lovely items came with an old house he bought. The house was full of hidden treasures. The owner of the house would be proud today to see the special care this young man gives his acquired oldies.

Our friend Sid proudly displayed his newly purchased brass shovel with 'Valvolene' etched on the shaft. He found this prize at Cool Springs. It has some neat nicks on it, and Sid has it polished and shining brightly with all its 'battle scars.'

Next I came to Chuck Mumper's display, a Delco electric power plant. Chuck invited me to sign his guest book and look at his picture albums. He sets up his display and greets the folks as they embark from the big river boats on the Ohio River at Wellsburg. He showed me a picture of the very first dishwasher used in the kitchen powered by an electric power plant.

Saturday afternoon, a young magician who was very good with children entertained all of us.

Thursday evening, we watched the talented line dancers, and listened to good ole barber shop singing by a local group. The Friday and Saturday evening music had to be cut short because of the impending storms, but the crazy auction went on until everything was bought. Each evening the sky turned from a pale blue into black, ominous, rolling clouds, and the rumbling thunder sounded like a battle being fought on the other side of the mountain, until the reality of it was overhead.

Friday I purchased a bracelet made by the Clarks' granddaughter. It has beads strung through leather marked 'WWJD?' Little did I know I would be looking at that bracelet quite seriously. WWJD stands for 'What would Jesus do?' I will admit that I didn't sleep a wink during the storm.

Friday evening the lightning bolts came straight down from the sky. At one time one hit and peeled the bark off a tree a few feet from our camper that was already being pounded by hail. While I looked at my bracelet, Little Suzie climbed up in Ed's lap panting and hiding her head in his neck. We weren't sure she would get through the evening without having a heart attack. However, Sammy stretched out and went to sleep, a typical male, lifting his head lightly as if somewhat annoyed when the lightning struck nearby.

The wind blew Gary Shreve's tarp over his trailer. In fact, they say he tried to save it from going, but had to let go or it would have taken him with it. Can you picture that?

Saturday night another storm came across from Ohio and the wind blew, shaking our camper, but the lightning and thunder were not as loud.

A side from the unusual storms we went through, this spot is a lovely maintained park, a little 'paradise' set away from the noise and the crowd.

The few of us who were left Sunday morning went to headquarters for more of Donna's home cooking and to say goodbye.

Shortly after that the final blow came Ed in his almost new Ford Diesel Power Stroke had to be assisted out of his slightly rain-soaked camping spot. He views this as a blow to his pride, but says with a deep sigh, 'I should have bought a 4-wheel-drive.'

Marshall County, we'll be back again, God willing. We have to thank Gary and his wife, Kathy, and all the members for their hospitality, as well as their hard work. I also want to thank GOD for keeping us all safe in the midst of the show and the storms.