Editor, Florida Flywheelers, Bon Creek Ranch, 6795 58th Avenue, N., St. Petersburg, Florida 33709
We believe the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club is a little different in lots of ways from most of the other fine engine groups in the U.S., and we'd like to tell you about ourselves.
You know, in Florida, because of the weather, the 'enginitis bug' never dies down in the Winter as it does in colder areas of the country.
Once a month, all year round, on a given Sunday, you can find anywhere from 50 to 100 of us at a Flywheeler club meeting, running all kinds of engines. Our members own some mighty fine gas and steam and hot air models, and many, many gas engines of varying make and horsepower, plus lots of tractors, a couple of Rumelys, a couple of steam engines (Nichols & Shepard and plus some handsome fair-sized' diesels. Naturally, the larger pieces are not so easily transported and you are more apt to see those when their owner is host at a monthly meet.
Our monthy meets! Now that's a real nice feature of our club. Our monthly meetings are held in various parts of the state at a member's home, or at a nearby park, ranging from the cities of Moore Haven and Clewiston on the famous Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, on up to picturesque Merritt Island in the shadow of Cape Canaveral, and on over to Oklawaha in the edge of the Ocala National Forest-just wherever we're invited. Hosting is voluntary and we never lack for invitations. Sometimes, we're booked a year ahead.
The format of our monthly meetings in unique in that we have only one business meeting per year, a BIG one, and the rest of the meetings are purely serious engine running and socializing. If we absolutely need to, our officers and directors may call a 20 minute meeting, but are soon back with their engines. More lately, for the past couple of years, our meetings have been two-day affairs. We take our campers and go on Saturday and thus get an early start on running engines and horse trading, socializing, or whatever. Some folks without campers, will come on Saturday and spend the night in a focal motel. Saturday night is pretty informal, but mostly we all share our supper and sit around and enjoy our mild southern nights, (mostly!!) On Sunday, there is a community covered dish mid-day dinner, and hosts provide beverages and some great treats. You can best believe we've had some grand old-fashioned dinner-on-the-grounds type meals, too, with our ladies whipping up some pretty potent covered dishes.
Ladies! Oh Yes, I forget to mention that most wives wouldn't miss the meetings, and we have lots of young people and children, too, some with their own engines.
Another difference of our club- we do not 'put on' a yearly show, we ARE the show. Hardee County, Florida and the First National Bank of Wauchula, Florida, co-sponsor the 3-day 'PIONEER PARK DAYS' show at Zolfo Springs in March each year, and we are invited to participate. Although we do assist individually in some ways, we do not in any way, plan, arrange, advertise, or organize it. However, we feel like it is 'our' show. Some of you may know of Zolfo as the show that was founded some 10 years ago by Earle Nickerson of Wauchula, Florida, and it grew and grew! We love being there, and that's one time we are not different from other engine clubs. We spend days hauling our stuff over to Zolfo each year and show off just like the rest of you engine nuts, everywhere.
Our club is 6 years old and was founded by Bill and Duretta Schneider (formerly of New York state) at the urging of a dozen or so interested folks. Bill and Duretta were President and Editor of the Flywheelers for 4 years. We've grown steadily and now have 191 members and are acquiring more and more engines and tractors.
Our newsletter is called the 'Engine Exhaust' and is issued every two months. It always contains maps and announcements for the upcoming two club meetings as well as a review of the happenings of the two previous meetings, plus other features. (Last issue contained subscription information for GEM and Iron Men for the benefit of our new members.) Since our club members are spread out through the width and breadth of the state, we feel like our 'newsy' newsletter sort of holds us together-and it has. worked that way for 6 years now.
If you were a Florida Flywheeler member during 1977, and resided in St. Petersburg, Florida, you traveled (and hauled some of your engines) more than 3,300 miles to the monthly meetings and three special events during that year! Now, that's different, isn't it?
All in all, despite some obvious differences, we're not so different from engine folks everywhere. We are proud to be a part of this great national group, we are proud of our engines, and think we're lucky to have found each other.
Our one regret is that we're SO many miles from all those big exciting engine shows up North, although some of us do get to one or two of them on our 'two weeks with pay' and, of course, some of our retired members spend the summer up North and get to many shows. But.........let me tell you about our plans for 1979. We hope to get up a 'caravan' of Florida Flywheelers and bring our campers and some of our engines up to the 1979 Tri-State show at Portland, Indiana, and then go on, as a group over to the Mt. Pleasant Show the following weekend. Can't you just picture our 'wagon train?' We're real excited and hope it works out.
A few of our members also belong to Northern engine clubs, and we now exchange club newsletters with the Berkshire Gas and Steam Engine Association in Massachusetts. If any of you other clubs want to exchange newsletters, get in touch. We also like to have guests at our monthly meets, if you are visiting in Florida.
Well, that's about it. Thanks for listening to the story of the Florida Flywheelers, the engine club that's a little bit different.