Don't Throw Anything Away! It Might Work With An Engine


| January/February 1986



Steam Engine

RR 1, Box 63, Avoca, Iowa 51521

It's always somewhat difficult to start writing a story, so I suppose I'll start by stating that I was born in Marshall County, Kansas. Our 80-acre farm overlooked the Big Blue River Valley, near a small town of Irving, Kansas. The year was 1931 and some will remember that that year was still influenced by the Great Depression.

When I was 6 years old, I attended Prairie Ridge Country School District 55. It was a one-room school, to which I walked a mile each day. My teachers have told me in later years that I was always greatly interested in anything mechanical and especially gas engines and tractors. My father was a horse farmer and I enjoyed it immensely when our neighbors on either side would work their fields. On the one side was a 'regular' Farmall with its smooth purr which never changed tone to any great extent. On the other was a 'D' or GP John Deere. I always enjoyed listening to it, as we could always tell when that neighbor would hit a hard piece of ground when plowing. There was something special about the sound of an old John Deere when her governor would open.

I suppose I'll always be partial to John Deere. The only power we had of that sort was a 3 HP New Way. My parents had lost almost everything in the Great Depression, but Dad had managed to keep his horses and his New Way. There were small items of interest such as his forge. I recall pulling the handle to operate the blower as he would heat plow lays and things of that nature. I would often daydream of how those gears must work in the rachet on the forge and longed to take it apart to see.

I recall that, during school, when I could convince the teacher I had my lessons 'down pat', she would allow me to play. I once recall making a model of a steam engine out of a paper tube and bits and pieces of our 'Indian' tablet back. I had made a paper tube cylinder with a paper and card stock piston. When the flywheel was turned it would blow dust out of the exhaust stack. This would distract all the other kids in the room, although there wasn't any noise they would all watch it work instead of doing their work. Teacher would smile and retire the engine to the top of the piano until recess, at which time I would be flooded with questions on how it worked.

About the time I was to graduate from the 8th grade, our school was closed in favor of consolidation. By this time I had grown up and formed my own opinion of how the world should be managed. Dad and I arrived at a difference of opinion and I went my way to make a a life of my own. As the years went by, I always remembered the old New Way.