Looking Back

| March/April 1988

  • Rick Anderson
    Left to right: Charlie Stark, secretary/treasurer; H. R. Shoemaker, safety officer; Rick Anderson, president; and John Pekarek, vice president.

  • Rick Anderson

The following history of Branch 16 was written by James Haynie, one of the club's charter members. According to Kick Anderson, Jr., the current president of the club, there are now approximately 90 active members and the club has continued to grow and prosper.

In September 1971, after some deliberation as to spending the $4.00, I finally decided to take my wife (Beulah), my father (Gordon), and my mother (Nellie) to the steam engine show at its nearly new show ground, east of Republic, Missouri.

Being born in 1920, these mammoth machines were mostly retired before my time but I had helped to saw lumber with one, also my dad had told me stories of his days of having an upright on a wagon which he pulled his well drill with. This engine was retired after he crossed Big Sac river with the boiler still hot from finishing a well at Lick Skillet School. Half way across the river the wagon turned over and the hot boiler landed in the cold river and split wide open.

Anyway after looking over the steam engines and watching the threshing and lumber sawing, we started back to look in the tin sheds north of the saw mill. We stopped to look at the saws and etc. in the Springfield machinery shed. Just north of this shed sat a man in a chair. I recognized him as Mr. John Bery and beside him he had three gas engines. He was completely tired out from cranking on them but had only been able to get one of them started all day. You should have seen the grin on his face (he had a grin on his face as big as a wave on a slop bucket.) Boy was he proud of getting one started. It was a 3 H.P. Novo. It seemed to make no difference to John that he was the only man there with an engine running. (There were only a few other engines setting around and they had been left by their owners and seemed to be for display only.) John was having a one man show. Well about one hour later John had converted another person from manhood to boyhood and I swore to start looking for one for myself.

JOHN THE MAN* To know John and Pearl Bery was an experience in itself. They had a store in Ash Grove, Mo. and sold used stuff. Anything from used razor blades to Player Pianos. Pearl sold the dishes, clothes, kitchen pots and pans, books, furniture, etc. Toward the back of the store John had his chair by the stove. (Johns' knees were bad from his years of pole climbing for the R.E.A. so he had to sit down a lot). Behind the stove was Johns' part of the business. On tables and shelves were tools. You could buy a pair of pliers for five cents, a shovel for a quarter, a box of used nails for a dime, and for 50 cents probably the least worn thing he had, a R.E.A. crowbar. On the top shelf were his antique tools, full sets of wooden planes, sets of monkey wrenches, Model T wrenches, etc. These were higher priced and he loved to trade them.

In the back room of the store among the boxes of books, used clothes, used beds and mattresses, John had his work shop. This is where he worked on his engines and you can imagine Pearl's howls when he started one and filled the place with smoke. Imagine how it smelled with old shoes, musty books, used mattresses and gas engine smoke, but, nobody seemed to mind for John and Pearl had a smile and hello for everybody. They traveled a lot and he had a camper, of sorts, on the back of his pickup and they belonged to the Winnebago Club. They had been to Texas to a Winnebago meet and to Paris, Mo. to the gas engine show. He had taken dozens of slides. I didn't know there were that many old engines in the world. He said there were 125 engines, one of the largest shows in the U.S.A. The club at Paris belonged to a national group called The Early Days Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. Imagine a club of gas engine men all over the U. S. A. John said there was already 15 different clubs formed with over 2000 members.


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