Rex Greenlee of Franklin stands beside the 15 HP Reid gas engine he displayed at the Antique Gas Engine and Equipment Show staged by the Victory Heights Community League.
The following article originally appeared in the June 12, 1 995 issue of the Franklin, Pennsylvania News-Herald and is reprinted courtesy of that newspaper.
VICTORY HEIGHTSA chance suggestion by one of its members turned into a successful fund-raiser for the Victory Heights Community League weekend in June, 1995. It was the league's first-ever Antique Gas Engine and Equipment Show, held in a grassy field that is part of its 80-acre property off Route 322 east of Franklin.
'It was about a year ago (1994) when one of our members, Kris Meddock, suggested we hold an engine show,' said Bruce Golden of Franklin RD 2, the show's organizer. 'We thought it was a good idea, so we took him up on his suggestion.'
Golden explained that Meddock has been a collector of antique engines for 15 years. Several other members including Golden himself are also collectors, thus, holding a show of this type was a natural for the league. 'We decided to try it to see what happens,' he said.
The club's first move was to place an announcement describing the show in The Directory, a booklet for engine collectors that is distributed all across the country. By doing so, the league therefore alerted collectors as to the existence of this new show.
'We checked The Directory pretty close,' said Golden. 'We wanted to be sure we picked a weekend where there weren't any other shows in the area.' The more avid collectors, he explained, go from show to show, sometimes hauling their old engines out for display nearly every weekend, thus, holding their show on an open weekend probably helped to attract exhibitors.
Golden's theory apparently worked, for some of the 64 exhibitors at the Victory Heights show traveled considerable distances to display their engines at Victory Heights. Several exhibitors came from eastern Ohio. Altogether there were nearly 200 engines and motors on display. The show also featured an assortment of craft and food vendors.
Many of the engines were of the 'hit and miss' variety, meaning they were one or two cylinder engines that deliberately did not fire with every revolution. Many are gleaned from the oil fields, some were stationary, others were transportable. There also were a number of old tractors, including John Deere, Ford, Caterpillar and cleat track models.
Unlike other shows, there was no competition for trophies or prizes.
'What you get is the appreciation of the people,' Golden explained. 'That's our only reward, but that's enough. It makes us feel good when people enjoy our engines.'
The show's theme, 'Take a step back in timefun for all ages,' was chosen to emphasize the educational nature of the show.
'We want our kids to understand what it was like years go, when all power was made with engines like these,' said Golden. 'It's good for the youngsters to realize what life was like without the luxuries we have today. Shows like this are educational for the kids and they bring back memories for the old-timers.'
He noted that the owners furnish their own gas. Since many of these engines are operated all day long the expense can be considerable.
'We like to do it,' said Golden. 'Engine shows aren't much fun if all you can do is look at the engines. Everybody likes to see them operate.'
The Victory Heights Community League is a 20-year-old organization formed initially to improve life in this small rural community. Its biggest project has been the construction of a community center building, which now is rented almost every weekend for weddings, family reunions and other such events which require a large hall. The league has also installed playground equipment nearby. Nearly all the league's 175 members have helped put on the engine show, according to Golden.
Fund-raising, however, isn't the only reason why the league decided to hold the show.
'We're hoping it put Victory Heights on the map,' said Golden.