Engine Mania Strikes Breadman

By Staff
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Jerry Randell Cook of 616 Logan Avenue, Danville, KY 40422 restored this 3 HP Majestic engine.
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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.

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