Finding a Fruit-Jar Maytag at Auction

It's not just an old air compressor


| April/May 1991



Air Compressor

Jeff Davis' fruit-jar Maytag purchased at auction.

Photo by Jeff Davis

My story begins on Sunday morning, September 9, 1990. My wife and I woke up and looked out the camper window, and saw a dark and dreary morning. It was ready to let down rain anytime.

We were at the Stump town Show, we had to be pulled in, and were afraid we would have to be pulled out. So, after the church services were over, we decided to pack up and go home, because it looked like it was going to rain all day. It was a good thing we did, because as soon as we left it started to rain and rain hard.

We only live about thirty miles away, in a little town called Old Washington; it's about seven miles east of Cambridge.

When we got home, we unloaded the camper and decided to go to Cambridge to get something to eat. Before we left, we went next door to an antique shop, to talk to the owner and some of our friends that were there. They were talking about his grandfather's auction, coming up on October 4. They were starting to sort through all the things he had collected since the early 1900s. He had operated a Shell station and worked on and fixed anything and everything.

They were all kidding me about an old air compressor that was there, that looked like an old Maytag. I thought "yeah sure" because they are always kidding me, and making fun of my love for old engines, Maytag's and old junk. So I said we would be down to look at it after we had something to eat. My wife, Debbie, said, 'Great, three days in the mud at Stump town, and now we're going to look at some silly old junk!'

When we got there we started looking through some old boxes and drawers. This garage was completely full of old junk. It was then that some of the women said, 'There is that old air compressor, over along that wall.' It was dark in this garage. My wife went over and looked at it and said it looked sort of like a Maytag, so I went over and looked down and almost wet down my leg. There it was, hooked up to a one-third horse electric motor, with a two inch leather belt. A pipe came out of the spark plug hole and went to a check valve, and then to a thirty gallon tank. My wife said, "What is it?" I said, "It's a fruit jar!" She said, "A fruit jar?" I told her to be quiet, the place was crawling with antique dealers and they thought it was just another old motor, and I didn't want them to know any different. So a little while later, I went up to the grandson and asked if I could buy the motor. He said that he would like to sell it, but nothing was to be sold before the day of the sale.