Grandpa Foos's Engine


| September/October 1992



Foos Type J Engine

W5ll0 E. Elmwood Rd., Menominee, Michigan 49858

My husband's first encounters with gas engines and farm machinery came during the time he spent with his grandfather as a young boy. Grandpa Foos, whose real name was John Joseph Foos, was called Jim. He worked as a catskinner building roads for the county. He started Rick out on heavy equipment as young as one year old. We have photographs of Grandpa holding Rick on his knee while operating a large 'Cat.' Rick spent nearly every weekend at his grandparents house in West Chicago, Illinois. He and Grandpa would work in the garden, go hunting, visit farmers, and occasionally go to threshing meets.

On Sundays, when Grandma and the other visiting grandchildren were getting ready for church, Grandpa and Rick would stay busy and out of the way, trying not to be noticed. Often Grandma would say to Rick, 'I think you should come to church with us.' Rick's eyes would widen in innocence, (Who me ?), but before he could protest, Grandpa would say, 'No, he's going to stay here with me.' Grandpa was rewarded with a smile from Rick, as Grandma sighed, and took the other children to church.

It was only then, after Grandma had left for church, that Grandpa would roll his gas engine out of the garage, crank it over, and let it run. It was loud, and had a strong smelling oil that spattered everywhere as it ran, but they didn't seem to notice. Grandma always did when she got home, though.

Rick must have meant a lot to his grandfather, because when he asked if he could have the metal wheeled wagon that held the engine. Grandpa took the heavy engine off the truck, and gave the truck to Rick, making him promise to always keep it, not to give it away. Grandpa never ran his engine after that. It sat on the floor of his garage. Grandpa Foos died in 1962, when Rick was 13. The engine was promised to Rick's uncle.

Rick always remembered his grandpa's engine, and had told me about it from time to time, but I had no idea what he was talking about until last summer. Rick and I were on a bike ride up the road, when we stopped at a garage sale. The man there, Ted Buyarski, (see GEM Jan. 1992), proudly showed us his collection of 'hit and miss' engines. He even started a couple of them up for us. When Ted asked our names, he said, 'Oh, Foos, like the gas engine! I saw that on your mailbox, and wondered if you were related to the manufacturer of the Foos gas engines.' Rick and I looked at each other in disbelief.