The Happiest Boy I Know

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Manistee, Michigan 49660

This is about a boy often or twelve.

Being a collector of old gas and kerosene engines, tractors, cars and what have you, does keep me busy. I am also a member of an old engine club, where my story gets its start.

This past year I had a chance to do more with my old toys. My wife and I were able to get to three old engine shows and to participate in two of them. We also attended three parades with my 1917 Chevrolet Touring car, making for a very enjoyable summer.

I am a member of the Western Michigan Old Engine Club, located at Ludington, Michigan. The club holds its annual show the first full weekend in August each year. This was where I first met the lad: a bright boy whose appreciation for the fine workings of the old hit and miss gas engines was evident to all who saw him.

My wife and I were attending the Buckley Show, near Traverse City, Michigan some two weeks later, with our 1935 Kaywood tractor and some engines, when we found our friends from the Ludington show were also there. They had arrived early in the week with another couple, who had their grandson with them the same lad I had observed at the Ludington show.

The boy was really interested in old engines. From early morning to late at night he was out, all over the show grounds and flea market. His aim was to buy a small old engine of some kind that he could afford with no luck.

I had a Maytag engine on display; it was not running or restored. The boy made several trips over to look at the Maytag, but he just did not have enough money. After a day and a half of trying to find an engine he could afford, he was about to give up.

I told my wife that night that if this boy could not find an engine, I would sell the Maytag to him.

The next day we called him over and asked if he was interested in the Maytag. He said yes, he wanted to buy the engine, but he just could not afford it did not have the money.

After teasing and kidding with him, I knew he really would like to have the engine. I told him I would make a deal with him, one he would not be able to refuse. After some discussion, I told the boy a price. He said he was a few bucks short but he would be right back with his grandpa. Grandpa had to approve the deal and if he did the boy was sure he could borrow the rest of the money from him.

Back they came. Grandpa had to tease a little also and the boy was willing to promise him anything, if he could only get the loan. He really wanted the Maytag.

I almost gave him the Maytag, but thought if he paid something for it, he would feel more like the real owner, and feel more important for being able to buy his first engine.

Grandpa decided he had teased the boy enough and would loan him the balance of the money.

The boy's eyes lit up like the fourth of July, and I helped him carry the engine back to Grandpa's camper.

My wife and I started a tour of the show grounds and walked past Grandpa's camper. The boy was sitting on the ground with the engine and a towel that was a cleaning rag (or it had turned into a cleaning rag fast). He was already in the process of cleaning and working on the engine. He was grinning from ear to ear.

My wife and I looked at each other and said 'we made a boy happy.' This was worth more than if someone had handed me $500.00 for the Maytag.

He promised he would have the engine running and painted and displayed at the Ludington West Michigan Old Engine 1984 show next August.

It makes me feel good to see the younger ones interested in my hobby, also.