616 Logan Avenue Danville, Kentucky 40422
Gasoline engines and bread salesmen do not seem like a likely pair, but then you would have to know my husband, Jerry, to understand how he puts the two together to his advantage.
When I married him in 1980, he was a bread salesman-I didn't know that, lurking beneath that otherwise reasonable exterior was an engine nut! I guess I have his dad to thank (or blame) for bringing that aspect of Jerry's character to the surface. His father had a 1? horsepower John Deere and a 3 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine. Jerry thought they were 'pretty' but that was about the extent of his interest. Then his dad got the bright idea that Jerry just might be able to locate some engines for him by making inquiries at country stores where he delivered bread. THE BUG BIT! Jerry found a 9 horsepower Alamo and grist mill for his dad at Clay City, Kentucky. The owner wouldn't sell the engine without the mill, so my father-in-law bought the two. When he and Jerry got them home, the bug bit Jerry a little deeper and Dad didn't get any more of the engines Jerry found.
I didn't really mind, at first. I mean, it's like catching a cold-the first sniffle doesn't hurt, but when it progresses into pneumonia, it becomes a nuisance! In the beginning, Jerry joined the Bluegrass Steam & Gas Engine Association (now he's a director and I'm also a member), and it was just a few engine shows now and then. Suddenly, the fever surfaced and it was a show nearly every weekend from late winter to late fall. I finally decided I might as well go along. If I was lucky, there would be a flea market to occupy my time while Jerry got sweaty and dirty cranking on the small engines he constantly bought and traded. For the life of me, I still can't see the fascination men have for that constant hissing, but I do appreciate the history behind the engines (thanking God at the same time for modern technology).
Jerry's symptoms progressed to larger engines and when we were expecting our first child, he found a 3 horsepower Majestic engine at Sal-visa, KY. Our daughter, Kristi Jo, was born January 21, 1982, and Jerry decided the Majestic would be hers and appropriately named it 'Miss Jo'. By this time, he had also developed an interest in John Deere toy tractors. The Christmas morning before Kristi was born, 'Santa' left a John Deere pedal tractor and wagon under the tree for our firstborn. I wondered what we would do with it until she was old enough to reach the pedals, but I just smiled and kept my thoughts about my husband's common sense to myself.
Quite naturally, of course, when we were expecting our second child last summer, Jerry just had to find another Majestic engine. By the time David Randell was born August 29th, his Majestic, found at Lebanon, KY, was completely restored and shiny red, waiting for him. I should have expected it, but was as surprised as everyone else this past Christmas morning, when 'Santa' again left a pedal tractor and wagon under the tree for David. At least this time, the baby was here to see it-at the ripe old age of four months!
Actually, I feel a little left out since Jerry has a 1939 John Deere B tractor in the backyard for him to ride. I guess I can be the one in the background taking pictures as all three Deeres take off down our subdivision street. Thank goodness, we have patient neighbors. They just smile and knowingly shake their heads when Jerry drives the tractor down the street with Kristi, now five, in his lap. I guess David will get his initiation ride as soon as the weather warms.
Fortunately, things have quieted down around here the past year or so. Jerry's growing interest in John Deere toys (our den is wall-to-wall shelves and showcases) has resulted in less engines around the house. He's down to just the two Majesties, a 1? horsepower John Deere and 1?-scale Deere engine and, thank God, they are all restored! The restoration process is my biggest gripe and prompted me to write the poem opposite in lieu of strangling Jerry. I decided if I strangled him, I might be imprisoned in some out-of-the-way joint still using gasoline engines for a power source. You see, Jerry's 'workshop' is the lower end of the crawl space under our house. I can't seem to convince him that paint, gas, and smoke fumes do find their way into the house above. Jerry is oblivious to all that as he strives to get the shine just right and the engine 'purring' to perfection.
I suppose he could have worse hobbies. I try to look at the positive side of things. I have him home in the winter when other women complain about being football widows. When he is away at engine shows, I have less laundry (he can't take time to change clothes very often at a weekend show or he might miss something), and when I need a little time away from the kids, Daddy can always take them for a tractor ride. At six miles per hour, it takes them a while to get back home.