It is my sad duty to report the death of MR. CHARLES CAWOOD on
November 14, 1992.
Charley, as he was affectionately known to thousands of tractor
and engine enthusiasts, together with his wife Sheila, was a
regular sight on the country’s rally fields. His caravan was a
mecca for those requiring published information or just a few
friendly words from his vast store of knowledge.
A regular tractor commentator at many events, his wit and
personal opinions kept spectators and owners interested, amused and
He was very proud of his position as a past chairman of the
national executive committee of the National Vintage Tractor and
Engine Club, honorary vice president and recent president of the
East Yorkshire Group. He was closely associated with many other
Irascible, knowledgeable, argumentative, helpful and an
entertainer, he will be greatly missed by us all.
Submitted by David Ayers, Chairman of East York Group, of
National Vintage Tractor & Engine Club, 73 Church Road, Wawne,
Hull, HU75XL, England.
A tribute to GILBERT WISNER of Upperco, Maryland: The faithful
president of the Maryland Steam Historical Society for 26 years,
died unexpectedly July 14, 1992. He was a farmer and sawmiller all
his life, Born in 1914′, he lived in the days when steam power
was still in use on the farms mostly for powering threshing
machines. Gilbert knew the gas tractors were fast replacing the old
steamers on the farms, and he purchased a 14 HP Frick engine.
In the early 60’s, he became president of the Maryland Steam
Historical Society. He. loved steam and was an excellent engineer.
He also knew how to repair old steamers, and early gas tractors, of
which he had a large collection.
He and his brothers also had many gas engines of various makes,
which they still exhibit at the annual steam and gas meets
nationwide: Mt Pleasant, Iowa; Wauseon, Ohio; Pontiac, Michigan;
Indiana shows; Kinzers, Williams Grove, and Penn’s Cave,
Pennsylvania; Tuckahoe on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; and many,
many more. Gilbert was always ready to make a new friend, and teach
the younger generation about steam power.
He was a good friend of mine, and we spent many cold wintery
Sundays in his shop around the old wood stove, talking about steam
railroads, and just plain old times! Words cannot express how much
we will miss him. May he rest forever in Paradise, where I hope we
all shall meet again.
Submitted by Marshall Matthews, Hampstead, Maryland and sent to
us by Robert E. Dreyer, 727 Dunkirk Road, Baltimore, Maryland
ELMER W. GRAY, 86, a Belt, Montana native, died of natural
causes May 16, 1992.
Elmer was born March 28, 1906 in Belt, Montana. He graduated
from Belt High School in 1927. After working on farms and as a
miner. Elmer enlisted in the Air Force in 1942. He served as a
flight engineer on B-17’s during World War II. Elmer was
discharged from the military in 1945 and returned to and worked the
family farm until his death. Elmer really loved gas and steam
engines, gardening, flowers and traveling.
From a very young age Elmer was interested in steam tractors.
After many years, he finally built a small steam tractor and water
wagon to true one-third scale. Elmer very much enjoyed steaming up
the original steam tractors and the little tractor and giving rides
to his friends.
Elmer was a kind and gentle man and will be sorely missed by all
those he touched.
Submitted by Carl Mehmke, Highwood Star Route, Great Falls,
Swinging the GateWILFRED O. LEARN
Many of you can identify with the excitement and anxiety that
exists just prior to the opening of a show, and even more so when
it is the very first show. Everything is in its proper place, and
all personnel are assigned to their respective duties. Displays
will be arriving at any minute, but low and behold-who will be the
unsung hero who swings the gate?
Thus it was twenty one years ago when Niagara Antique Power
Association was about to launch its initial show. It was on this
occasion that my neighbor, and soon to be close friend, volunteered
to man the gate.
‘I have no engines nor articles to display’, said
Wilfred O. Learn, ‘but perhaps I can be of some help here on
Wilf, as we all learned to know him, along with his
brother-in-law Harold Case, faithfully swung that gate for the
entire show. Not much glory in a job like that, but oh, so
important to have someone you can count on, and Wilf was made out
of that kind of stuff.
Wilf so enjoyed his new interest in old iron, that he soon began
to collect, restore and display. It didn’t take long to get
‘bitten by the bug’, but along with Wilfs gleanings, came
so much giving.
Within a year or so, when the club was considering an alternate
show location, Wilf asked if his corner field would be appropriate.
Not only was it appropriate, but the rural locale was ideal.
Wilf, with his lifelong companion Verna, operated the W. O.
Learn Fence Company, which was founded by his father. He was widely
known and respected within the community. By nature, he was not an
outgoing person, and did not venture far from home or business.
However, all this changed when the rusty wheels and gears began to
Wilf kept his fields literally manicured in preparation for our
annual show. High spots were levelled, and gullies were filled.
Fences and gates were installed, and the site grew both in size and
Wilf was always there at our work bees with his Ford Dexta and
front end loader, along with a supply of tools which everyone else
forgot. He served on the board of directors, and was later chosen
as an honorary director. His wife, Verna, along with her
sister-in-law Ruth, operated the baked goods building at our show
for several years. They, together, supported all club functions,
and travelling on our bus tours was a cherished event.
Some time ago, when one of the club members suggested our show
profits would be higher if we served smaller size ice cream cones,
Wilf asked if we were losing money. When the reply was
‘no,’ Wilf said, ‘Keep them the size that they are. We
want poeple to be happy and enjoy themselves.’
Wilf’s activities took an abrupt slowdown a few years ago
when he suffered a severe stroke, but his determination allowed him
mobility, even in his wheel chair, or little Allis Chalmers lawn
tractor with its triangular slow moving sign.
The quality of life deteriorated for Wilf, and on December 1,
1991, in his 73rd year, he was called to his eternal reward. He
shared with me, before his departure, his readiness to meet his
maker. Our loss is His gain.
He left his dear wife Verna, his son Carl, his granddaughter
Lisa, a host of fellow members and friends, and a commitment to
Niagara Antique Power Association for the use of the show site for
as long as the club exists.
I personally cherish the memory of Wilf’s friendship as a
dedicated member, caring neighbor and a committed gate swinger.
Submitted by Karl G. Fretz, 1239 Burger Road, Ridgeway, Ontario