This One’s for Me!!

By Staff
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Tom Starling, Auburn Hills, Michigan: 'A Family Portrait'
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10634 Oakford, White Lake, Michigan 48386

Okay, it’s my turn!! I’m not going to write about
anything that has to do with Emerson-Brantingham! Like the other
‘better-halves’ out there, I have been dragged to more
engine shows than I care to count; to the point where I actually
liked going to them. But I always felt like I was John’s Wife
not Phyllis. So it was time to assert myself and come up with
something for ME.

We were at the Caro, Michigan engine show several years ago and
doing what I used to do bestwaiting for JOHN when I wandered over
to a trailer that I hadn’t seen before. Yes there were iron
‘thingies’ on it and they were all painted up real nice,
but I didn’t recognize any of the names. You see I had just
gotten to the point where I recognized Deere, Economy, and even
Springfield, Olds and Domestic, but these were all new. Names like
Hargrove, Ball, Schultz, Aldrige, and Lennox. Also, they didn’t
run, there was no gas, oil, or water leaking, and yet everyone was
stopping to look and point.

I asked the man who owned the display what kind of engines they
were and he replied, ‘These aren’t engines Miss, these are
genuine, certified hog oilers.’

‘You bet! Okay John (where are you?!) I’m ready
now!’

Hmmmm, no John, I’m trapped. OK, composure time.

‘All right, I give up, what is a hog oiler?’

This man looked me right in the eye and with a very serious tone
said, ‘Well, it is a device that farmers used at the turn of
the century to put oil on their hogs. That way the bacon won’t
stick to the frying pan during the cooking process.’

‘You bet!…John…John (where did he go) I really am ready
to go now!’

Well, now I was stranded here with this man and his display and
a bunch of smiling people. I started to walk away, but you know
what? I couldn’t. I kept going back and looking closer and the
owner kept explaining more not only about how they worked, but
where they originated, why they originated, and why there were so
many different kinds.

Finally, John came back from the flea market with more EB stuff
that he couldn’t live without and I told him to look closely at
these things and see if he knew what they were. He looked closely
alright, but had no idea what they were.

‘Hog oilers!’ I proclaimed and the man winked in
acknowledgement. ‘And you know what, I want to start collecting
them!’ For the first time, John was speechless. I had the
pleasure of introducing him to the man who introduced me to hog
oilers, Mr. Tom Starling.

I didn’t take an oiler home with me that day. In fact, it
wasn’t until the next spring that anything happened. John went
to Waukee, Iowa, for the Swap. (I had to work!) He got home when I
wasn’t there, and when I arrived he had a surprise for me
sitting on the hearth in the family room. Under a blanket, I found
a beautiful, rusty Emerson-Brantingham hog oiler! Now before all
you collectors go ballistic and start calling me, let me explain.
Another pair of collectors, Bob and Louise Coats from Wisconsin,
had found a nice Farm-Master double wheeler and thought that this
would be a good first oiler. They brought it over to Tom
Starling’s spot and left it there. Tom proceeded to very
carefully draw the Emerson-Brantingham logo on it with chalk and
that convinced John he should buy it for me. And that is how I got
my first oiler.

Are there more, you ask. As husband John said in one of his
articles in GEM, ‘Show me an old iron man (or WOMAN!) who has
just one piece of iron, and I’ll show you an old iron PERSON
who is in desperate need of a rusty fix.’

Since that ‘EB’ hog oiler, I have acquired many
different oilers, which get blasted and painted and take up
prominent space in our family room. (Well, I guess now the living
room too!) And as soon as John moves his engine junk out of the
garage, I’ll have that space as well!

Speaking of collections…the pictures show you a family
portrait that is, to say the least, unique. In August of ’93,
several of us gathered at Tom Starling’s home in Michigan, and
pulled off what many collectors dream of doing. We pulled all of
Tom’s oilers out of the barn, the garage, the shed, and behind
the trees and arranged them for one big picture. We started early
on a Saturday morning and by noon had them all arranged as you see
in the picture. There were a couple of showers, a little sun, and a
whole lot of hog oilers. Husband John snapped the camera, then I
snapped the camera, and then our son, and then our daughter, and
then I don’t know maybe one of the hogs took a picture! At any
rate, we all had a wonderful time. There are somewhere around 100
different oilers laid out here (many, many people have counted them
in the picture, and to date we still get different numbers).
Suffice to say, that it was a whole bunch of iron!! After pictures
and lunch and lots of ‘hog talk,’ came the obvious: Tom
said, ‘Time to put them back.’

‘Wouldn’t it be easier to just move to Portland up here
this year,’ son John pipes up.

So after several hours (actually many hours) we got ’em all
back in their respective spots and headed for home. It was a great
dayno, a special dayand one that I think will stay with us for a
long time. What made it possible? Not the back-breakers and not the
photographers. It was Tom and people like him who have the notion
to hang onto a little piece of the past for the rest of us to
appreciate and enjoy for many years to come. Thanks, Tom!

Finally, I need to say a special thanks to some ‘old
iron’ people who have really helped and encouraged me with my
unique hobby. So to Bob and Louise, to the Brubakers, the
Barthelds, to Dick Bostick, my father-in-law Les Brantingham, and
most importantly to Tom Starling and his wife Thelma: thanks so
much for all your help and support.

Of course, we’re now into hog holders, scrapers, T-shirts,
mugs, hog waterers, and hog stuff in general and if any of you stop
by our display and ask what a hog oiler doessomething about bacon
sticking?

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