Old Father Time is doing much more than 'Picking My Pocket,' as an old song suggested. He has run the clock out on many old engine friends, including one that I first met over twenty years ago, at the Stephenson County Antique Engine Show at Freeport, Illinois VERNER HENSEL, 1908-1995.
One evening while looking over the large old tractors, my attention was drawn to the sound of a quiet, slow-turning engine. Very slowly approaching, was a 40-60 Rumely Oil Pull, and on the man-stand, with the bill of his cap turned up, and his hand raised in greeting, stood the engine man. Pulling the clutch lever, he invited me onboard. Extending his hand, he said, 'Howdy, I'm Verner Hensel.' I introduced myself, thereby beginning a friendly relationship that included his wife, Lillian, daughter Joyce, her husband Gerald Linker, their two sons and daughter and spouses, his son Bob Hensel, and a number of Verner's friends.
I've been told that Verner, and several other fellows, had started attending and operating tractors at other shows back in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Who of us who knew him, can forget his Chevy Pickup, the word 'Iron Man' on its bug deflector, and the pickup cap that housed his bunk, tools, various pieces of old 'junque' and his guitar? Also, we knew that with little or no encouragement, a harmonica would appear in his hand, and tunes such as 'Red Wing' and 'The Wabash Cannonball' would be heard.
Verner farmed near Ohio, Illinois. When show time rolled around, he and his 'Tired Iron' cronies would tour the Midwest and Canadian show circuit, sometimes for six weeks at a time. In addition to attending old engine shows they were scouting around for old gas engines, old tractors and other interesting items of antiquity.
He also rebuilt, from less than a basket case, a rare 1919 12-24 Russell tractor which, in addition to the Oil Pull and 1920 10-18 cross engine Case and the 'Hensel Special' engine, were shown at a number of shows.
The Hensel Special engine was different. Verner built it with one crankshaft, two cylinders, four pistons, six connecting rods and no heads. Crank it over and it would run.
In the natural course of events, Old Father Time's clock ran down and stopped for Verner at about 6:15 p.m. on July 31, 1995. I had gone to the nursing home to visit him but his life was slipping away. He succumbed to eternal rest with his wife and daughter at his bedside.
The visitation night at the funeral home, and the funeral the next day, brought together hundreds of his friends and acquaintances. It brought to my mind a vision of the closing hours of an old threshing show, when we say goodbye to our friends and head for home. With memories of another old engine man, who had pulled his last flywheel, I imagine Verner with the bill of his cap turned up, his guitar in one hand, the other hand holding a harmonica raised in farewell, as he walked into the sunset.
Submitted by Vern Gunderson, White Lake, Wisconsin 54491.
JOHN W. PRIBBENOW, age 79, entered into rest January 10, 1996. He was a charter member of the England Prairie Pioneer Club of the Verndale-Wadena, Minnesota, area.
For a number of years, John worked in the Dakotas as a foreman of bridge crews. Later he farmed and worked as a carpenter in the Verndale area. In his spare time he collected antique gasoline engines and restored them.
He enjoyed nature, hunting, fishing and collecting rocks.
His enthusiasm and knowledge of old gasoline engines, and antiques in general, will be greatly missed by his fellow collectors.
Cards of condolence can be sent to his daughter, Lindy Ohrmundt, Rt. #2, Box 26, Wadena, Minnesota 56482.
Submitted by Leo Fellman, 1608 Oak St., Hastings, Minnesota.
ELIZABETH MORRIS, 112 Irwin Road, Powell, Tennessee passed away January 22, 1996.
She and I were engine collectors for 14 years and she was known by many of our collector friends as Mrs. Elizabeth. She passed away at the age of 63, after a four month battle with cancer.
I miss her and so will many of our collector friends.
Submitted by her husband, Joe Morris, Powell, Tennessee.
Joe Morris sent us a copy of a piece his wife Elizabeth had written, entitled He Restoreth My Soul, in which she compared the restoration of engines to the redemption of individuals by God, as written in the Bible. We don't have room for the entire essay, but here is how she ended it:
'The rewards for our labor on this engine are pride in what we have accomplished an occasional trophy or plaque. Being able to say, 'That's mine,' having saved it from the smelting pot.
'God not only saves us from destruction. He has promised rewards for our restoration and good works-a home in Heaven to those who have trusted Jesus as saviour and repented of their sin.
'There could be no greater reward than to hear Him say, 'Well done.' '