This last summer, I had decided to take the once in a lifetime gas engine trip and see many of the fine people who I had talked to on the phone about gas engines and see many of the fine collections on the east coast which I had long wanted to do. I had made all the arrangements and had lined up where we would be each day. We were to take in the Owls Head, Maine auction and stop at Kinzers and go up into northeastern Canada and the whole bit.
Well, I decided to take the whole family and do it up right and take the kids to places they had never seen before around Washington, D.C., etc. We started out great, however the second morning we had a wreck when my wife hit a concrete bridge on the Interstate. We were very fortunate that no one was hurt. However the truck was a different story. If it hadn't been for some very fine gas engine friends we would have had to junk the truck out and come back home on the train.
Here is a tribute to Dave and Anita Boomgarten that my wife wrote about our experiences surrounding the wreck. This goes to show what fine people the Gas Engine Bunch are.
We were on the second day of our long awaited vacation. This was one vacation we had planned each detail of where to stay and what we would do on a daily basis. We had even made motel reservations ahead of time which was very unusual for us, but we wanted to make sure that this trip to Canada and New England would go very smoothly. Jerry had called ahead to several of his engine buddies to meet them and see their engines. Kansas always seems so far away from the East coast so we had referred to this as a 'once in a lifetime trip,' and the excitement had built as the steam builds up in the boilers of our 40 and 65 HP Case steam engines.
Today we were on the Illinois I-55 highway headed toward Goshen, Indiana. Jerry and our three girls were all asleep as I wheeled our Club Cab G.M.C. down the smooth fourlane. At about 1 miles out of Chenoa, Illinois, the unfortunate happened. I lost control of our one-ton pickup and hit a bridge. Dreading to see the results of what could have been a devastating accident, I found we had stopped right-side-up in the ditch. When I looked around to see if any other vehicles had been hit or people hurt, I said a prayer of Thanksgiving that no other cars or people had been involved. After checking to see that no one in my pickup had even received a scratch, we all got out to see the damage our truck had received. Jerry saw that the rear end of the 'Jimmy' was lying on the pavement. We knew at that point the vehicle we were driving would need a great deal of repair before we could ever drive it again. As we waited for the police to come, we looked at the map to see if there was anyone we could possibly call on for a place to stay until repairs could be found. Our destination in Indiana was too far away to be of any help.
Words can hardly express the feeling one has sitting out on an Interstate with three children, your understanding husband and 'shook up' you trying to figure out what to do next. Relief for being so lucky, anger that you have interrupted your fantasy vacation come true and fear of wondering when you will ever see Kansas again, all criss-cross tight ribbons around your heart as you wait. And then a hopeful sigh from Jerry. 'You know Dave Boomgarten who was at our house this spring to see our engines? He lives in Chatsworth, Illinois and it's only 20 or 30 miles from here.' By that time the police had come to check out our accident and it was decided that we would go into Chenoa and give Dave and his wife Anita a call from there.
In several hours Dave had come with his pickup to take Jerry into a larger town to get parts for our truck. Anita had brought her two little girls. Sara and newborn Rachel, to take me and my three girls back to their house at Chatsworth. Never did we realize that we would come on Tuesday and be at Boomgartens 'til Friday. Anita fed us delicious meals. Their four-year-old Sara was like a sister to our 4- and 7-year old girls. Dave made numerous phone calls and drove miles to help find parts for our very specialized G.M.C. The hospitality they showed us helped turn a very negative, depressing turn of events into one that helped us learn again the many blessings that come from good people and friends. We feel like we will never be able to repay them for all their kindness. Even though we were not able to go on with our vacation, our trip back to Kansas was much easier because of Dave and Anita Boomgarten, who we learned to know through our common interest in old gas engines.
Many times I have gotten disgusted with the mention of buying another one of those heavy old gas engines; yet I must admit that we have found some very friendly people as we go from show to show. It's amazing how many folks we have learned to know and appreciate through our interest in gas engines. We wish to especially salute Dave and Anita Boomgarten of Chatsworth, for being special people.