Courtesy of Noel Nelson, Hawley, Minnesota 56549
5343 Tussic Rd., Westerville, Ohio 43081
Yea!, I looked and slammed on the brakes about jackknifin' the long load of sawmill slabs on our flatbed trailer. Out in the weeds behind the rundown barn and outbuildings there were wheels, dim outlines in rusted iron and what looked to be the remains of an old sawmill. We cranked around and pulled into the dry road which went to weeds beyond the first car length. My two boys began 'look for little iron wheels, Dad,' 'I need manure spreader wheels for my tractor Dad', 'there's a dump rake', ' are we goin' to buy some more engines', etc., etc. . .
We approached the front porch which was overhung with long unpruned Maples and vines - my sons now quiet and subdued by a -'Be cool' - from me. There on the glassed and screened front porch sat The Squire and his Lady shellin' peas. We said 'howdy' and got right down to business. I've found in my travels that a straight forward approach works best more often than not. We allowed as how we were lookin' for old iron manure spreader wheels to advance a project now underway of buildin' a model old timey gas tractor usin' a hit and miss engine. The squire's eyes twinkled and he grinned from ear to ear sayin' he had a pair of wheels he'd sell cheap and what's more we could step out back and survey these articles right now. Hurryin' to set down his lap full of peas, he led us out back into an engine man's paradise.
Now from the old gents remarks and sly looks at the outset I became aware early in the game that he'd been to town a time or two. As we approached the equipment in question I could see a gap in the off rear wheel where time had told its story in rust and ruin. Not withstanding this disadvantage he began to extol the virtues and promise of these corroded specimens. I allowed as how they just wouldn't do for our project and asked where'd he get all them telephone insulators I was standin' on there in the weeds? He said he'd got them years ago when the lines back of his place was pulled down.
1934 W-12 McCormick Deering owned by Earl Olson, Hawley, Minnesota 56549.
He came right on with 'I get fifteen dollars a hundred for them from an antique feller.' My heart sank wondering what else this 'antique feller' had absorbed into his clammy clutches while here. Sure enough he answered 'No, I give away my last gas engine years ago'. 'I've got an old steam engine governor around here somewhere or other I used to use on a model T engine that run the sawmill.' As we moved off in search of the governor was passed a shed where in resided two identical Avery tractors of the 1940 plus vintage with a yarn all their own about rebuilt engines and their apparent worth. They had both been purchased from a Junk yard and done lots of work there on the farm for him. The old and broken pieces of yesteryears' agricultural equipment and the old gent's eye glasses demonstrated his past and present mechanical ability. His spectacles were the ancient horn rim type with one bow missing and replaced with a piece of string which was one end tied to the frame and the other to his left ear. By doggies! It worked well enough that he could see to offer for sale nearly everything imaginable but the elusive steam governor. There was an old one horse sleigh tied to the rafters that he and his misses had went to get their license in sixty-four years ago on a day when the thermometer read below zero. He said they was young then and didn't know no better and just a lap robe with a lantern under it had kept them warm and happy. There were good binder canvases and corn jobbers, maple syrup buckets and corn shellers, Model T tires and flat belts galore, and! there in the corner two small trucks with WHOOPEE!! iron wheels.
Bein' so casual that I thought my youngest son would faint from tryin' to 'be cool' I sidled up to one of them and inquired as to its use and function. The squire swelled up and gave forth with the information that he'd been on the verge of a project himself wherein the application of iron wheels and such was a must even to include both of the trucks. Heck! I said to myself, you've about met your match this day, so I layed it right out for inspection and said as I knowed a feller that could use them wheels and he'd pay five or six dollars cash. With a pained look the old gent vowed he couldn't take a cent less than ten for the one and couldn't bear to part with the other as he had need of it for something or other that he couldn't at the moment recollect. Well, I cross offered seven dollars and was flat refused and commenced my 'walkin' off act'. In the process of walkin off I stumbled over an old glass reservoir for a coal oil kitchen stove that had layed out in the sun so long it had turned beautifully amethyst-colored and bought it for a quarter. In another thicket there were two ten inch belt pulleys that were sold to me for 'iron wheels' (when I got home I found the old Case eagle on the world emblem on a spoke of each, Ha!). We crossed out of the barn lot into the dry road through the garage-shop shed and glanced at such things as corn planters and mowin' machines and home made mechanical curiosities such as a wood-made riggin for the trip firin' of six shotgun shell blanks toward off 'young un' that sneak-fished and swam back in his pond and stole his fish and such. Although everything seemed to have been here a long time the squire seemed about ready to do lots of things in the repair line.
About this time it come to me that it was about time we left so as not to wear out our welcome. When I payed him for the wheels and such he made change out of a poke that would done well to burn a wet mule givin' credance to the earlier thought about him havin' been to town before. We passed a few theories about the weather and such, shook hands and made off. WE were about fifteen and a half rods up the road when the interrogation began - 'Dad, why didn't you buy the truck with the little iron wheels? - Would those lime spreader wheels have done for the gas tractor? - where do you suppose the flyball governor was? -are we goin' back?
I might yet. -- No. -- I don't know. - YOU BET AND SOON !!!