Old Timers and Old Iron at Southern Tier

| December/January 1990


Ralph Loomis sawing shingles at the 1990 Southern Tier Antique Gas and Steam Engine Association show at Maine, New York.

P.O. Box 55, Rte. #7, Nineveh, NY 13813

It was August 24, 25, 26, 1990 at the 16th annual reunion and show of the Southern Tier Antique Gas and Steam Engine Association in the village park of Maine, New York where sudden realization came to me that most of my pleasures and glorious years of being an iron nut were behind me. I found cancer was bringing my career to a close. In my 73 years I have experienced great joy in attending many shows, meeting nice people and seeing many unusual things.

Time has claimed many of my hobby friends. Last year it was Warren Howell, whom I first met in 1946 soon after I came back from the war. He was well past 80 and had been in the club many years. They called him the Briggs and Stratton king. To keep his memory alive his widow had all of his engines sold to club members through the annual auction to be exhibited again.

Knowing that Ralph Loomis was sick because he had been missing the meetings, we didn't expect him at the show. It was a surprise when he showed up with his Oil Pull and shingle mill. He showed us that there was still life in that old body when, leaning on a cane with his son hanging on his arm, he demonstrated that he could still make shingles. Ralph claimed that it wasn't his heart condition that got him down, it was sugar. Ralph was one of the six founders of the club and as a charter member he can't be replaced. When his time comes, he will be missed, he was around before the rest of us.

Jack Green is another of the old timers. He's ten years older than I, which makes him well past 80. He seems to be holding up better than the rest of us. It was his wife who didn't make the show. She was missed because she was one of those people who always did her part in the cake walk and other events.

Time catches up with all of us, but we old iron nuts leave this world with our mark on it. It's those youngsters we trained who will be following in our footsteps long after we are gone. Most of these youngsters inherited this insanity from the parents. I have to single out Brian Stevens because his whole family is totally involved in this craze. His mother and sister are just as much of old iron nuts as he is. I first met him when he was in grade school. I saw him graduate from high school and go out into the world. It's only a matter of time before the third generation of iron nuts come along.