2821 Wilmington Road Lebanon, Ohio 45036
Old Timers Days were held September 22, 23, 24, 2000, in Ohio. The previous days had very nice fall weather with night temperatures in the low 50s and daytime temperatures of mid-70s. We have had lots of rain this year. The Cincinnati airport weather said we have had 35.51 inches of rain this 2000 year, which is above normal. The same weather station said we have had only three days of temperatures above 90 degrees. The weather sounded a little questionable for our reunion of tractor and engine enthusiasts.
I am a schoolteacher in Middletown, Ohio, which is about forty miles to the south and west of Xenia. After school on Wednesday, September 20, 2000, I drove home from school to Lebanon, Ohio. I already had my 1938 John Deere series E, l? HP engine, 1951 'LUC' John Deere combine engine, and 1979 John Deere 214 garden tractor loaded on my trailer. I hooked up the trailer to my Ford 150 pickup truck and drove twenty-three miles north to Xenia to Green County Fairgrounds.
The weather did not look too good- It rained most of the way to Xenia. I unloaded the tractor from the trailer and placed everything by a great big oak tree. My cousin, Jerry McCoy, pulled his red Dakota pickup truck along side of me under the big oak tree. We both noticed that there were only 10 John Deeres, eight Farmalls, one Case, one Rumely, one Massey-Harris and just a few other tractors and engines.
Since it was raining, my cousin and I decided to go get something to eat at 5:00 p.m. I drove my truck to the restaurant and we returned to the fairgrounds after supper at 6:00 p.m. We both observed the tractors coming slowly into the fairgrounds. It was raining some, but not really enough to stop people from bringing their possessions to the show. We both decided to leave at 7:00 p.m. and go visit our aunt who lived some three blocks east of the fairgrounds.
At my aunt's house the weather started to change. The weather station on TV said severe thunderstorms. A few minutes later the lights went out. At 7:30 p.m. all 'HECK' broke loose. I watched out the east window of my aunt's house. The rain, wind, leaves, insulation and other unknown objects were flying through the air. The electricity was off, but I really did not think too much about the weather. You expect anything in southern Ohio. At 8:00 p.m. I left my aunt's house and went back to the fairgrounds some three blocks away to the west. When I got to the fairgrounds I really got the message. A TORNADO, an F4 rating with some 200 miles per hour winds had hit Xenia again.
In April 1974 a tornado hit Xenia and destroyed the town. Well, it happened again. Barns, wires, trees, vinyl siding, and trailers were lying in disarray. The place where my cousin's and my trucks were parked was covered with oak limbs. I found my trailer covered with leaves, mud, a large dent in the fender, and a broken taillight. The place was completely dark with no lights, some rain and some wind. I really did not know what to do. The police, life squad, and sheriffs were beginning to arrive. At about 8:45 p.m. I decided to try to go home and see if my wife was okay in our house in Lebanon, Ohio, some 23 miles to the south. I made it home and spent a restless night trying to get some sleep.
On Thursday, September 21, 2000, I went to school, but my heart was not in it. I had our police person who guards us at school call Xenia to see if I was allowed to return to the fairgrounds. The sheriff told him to tell me to bring pictures to identify my John Deere collection. I left school at 2:15 p.m. I drove home immediately and picked up my wife and drove 23 miles north to Xenia. What a mess!!! The fairgrounds were destroyed. Many houses to the west were destroyed. Walmart lost its roof. Two churches were destroyed and many other businesses were destroyed or damaged. I do not know all the damages, because I really tried to stay out of the way of people. The sheriff let me into the fairgrounds. I took two rolls of pictures of the damages. My wife and I left with the trailer and we drove home.
When I got home I cleaned the leaves, mud, etc. off the trailer, two engines and the tractor. I found the paint on the trailer had been damaged, one dent and one tail light broken. I also lost a lawn chair. I consider myself very lucky to have survived the whole experience.
Friday, September 22, 2000, was a pleasant day. We had rain all day on Saturday and Sunday. We received a half inch of rain Wednesday and over three inches of rain on Saturday and Sunday. The entire weekend was terrible. The weather did not cooperate for the Old Timers in Xenia this year.
I spent the entire weekend painting the trailer and cleaning up the mess. The engines were not hurt and the tractor ran perfectly when I put it away into the barn. I went to a flea market and bought a new tail light for $6.31. I have everything repaired but the dent in the fender.
I have not talked to anyone from the Old Timers organization. I would assume they would have an Old Timers tractor and engine convention the last weekend of September 2001. The admission cost this year was going to be $2.00 and $1.00 for senior citizens on Friday. Anyone who brought an exhibit such as a tractor, engine or piece of old equipment is allowed to enter free of charge. The Old Timers encourage participation by feeding free ice cream and cake on Thursday evening and free admission to all participants.
I hope the fair board will rebuild the buildings and plant new trees. It will take years to replace the many oak trees that were present. I hope everything will return to normal in 2001.