A Tale of Two Ohios

| September/October 1996

R.R. 1, Box 280 W, Chilmark, Massachusetts 02535

In 1993, while exhibiting engines at a museum show in Amherst, Nova Scotia, I was handed a message, by a staff member, which said Ohio engine for sale, with the name Marion Tuttle and a telephone number. 'Why me?' I asked. Miss Tuttle, the elderly owner, called the museum when she learned of the engine show, I was told, and asked if there were any exhibitors from far away. My Massachusetts off-season address on the registration card was the long distance winner; Miss Tuttle asked that the message be given to me. I wondered why she wanted someone from away. She must have thought that a collector from the States or Ontario would be a more qualified buyer.

When I called the number, a frail voice told me that the engine was an 8 HP Ohio that had belonged to her father. I asked about its condition. It was in good condition, she said, but it had been dragged out of the barn after a hurricane blew the roof off the building and her father decided to tear it down. The engine had been resting where he left it ever since. Searching my memory, I asked what year the hurricane occurred. She said she thought it was in 1954.

A week later I went to inspect the engine. Miss Tuttle's directions led to an abandoned farm. I drove back to the last landmark, then, following the directions a second time, ended up back at the farm. I drove in the overgrown driveway to the house. A dozen cats retreated into holes in the tumbled fieldstone foundation as I followed a path to the door. A small, hunched woman opened the door a few inches and with a gentle smile invited me inside.

After a visit in the dark, kerosene-scented kitchen, Miss Tuttle said she would take me to see the Ohio. Crossing the meadow behind the house, we struck into dense woods and slowly made our way through viburnum and alder thickets until we came to a little meadow. 'There it is,' she said.

I scanned the tall grass in the clearing but saw nothing. 'Where?' I asked.