Old, Strong, and Fast

fpotp01Although I saw no single piece of equipment that possessed all three attributes, over the last couple of days I saw a lot of old stuff, strong stuff and fast stuff. The old stuff was primarily at the Greenville Farm Power of the Past 15th Annual Reunion with the strong stuff showing off at the day ending truck and tractor pull. That was Friday. The fast stuff blew by on Saturday at the East Coast Timing Association‘s event in Wilmington, Ohio.

A recent post told of my meeting up with an old friend after two score and seven years. That friend, Terry Wolfe, collects and restores Wheel Horse tractors and had several on display at the Greenville event. Despite my good intentions, I never did get a proper photo of the display. The shot at the top of the article, taken while the two of us, along with Terry’s brother Joe, sat and talked, is the best I can do.

fpotp02fpotp03fpotp04I had timed my arrival to take in a scheduled threshing demonstration. This is not something I haven’t seen before but it had been quite awhile and I generally enjoy seeing older equipment of any kind being used as intended. Before combined harvesters became common, wagon loads of freshly mowed grain stalks would be brought to a stationary thresher where the actual grain would be separated from the straw. As we walked toward the demonstration, Terry told me that this was where the term “straw boss” came from. The primary boss concerned himself with the machine and the grain while an assistant would head up a crew to deal with the accumulating straw. Terry also told me of the tradition of the straw boss tossing his (usually straw) hat into the thresher at the end of a job. Sometimes that hat made it through more or less intact. Sometimes not. The tradition is upheld here. There is no need for an actual “boss of the straw” during the demonstrations but the term is used, a bit incorrectly but quite respectfully, to refer to the fellow who would be the “big boss” in the field. Come Sunday, when the last demo of the year is over, a hat (Lester’s, I think) will go into the big machine.

fpotp07fpotp06fpotp05There is no shortage of big equipment on the Darke County Fairgrounds but Terry and I sort of concentrated on the smaller stuff during our walkabout. I’ve always been intrigued by “hit-and-miss” gasoline engines and the variety of mechanisms creative minds applied to to control their speed. A local connection is worth some extra points so I naturally liked the nicely restored Greenville built 1906 Wogaman in the first picture. Terry, who is under that red hat in the second picture, has exhibited here for several years but this year the Vintage Garden Tractor Club of America is holding their Ohio regional show in conjunction with Greenville Farm Power of the Past and there are even more of the smaller tractors than usual. Maybe the item in the last picture doesn’t quite fit the normal definition of “power” but I had never seen anything like it and just had to include it. A sign identified it as a MantaMower and a web search turned up the information that it was patented in 1923 and manufactured (in Grand Rapids, MI) until about 1962. There is no question of its being light and safe and I don’t doubt it was rather effective as long as you didn’t let the grass grow just a tad too tall.

fpotp08fpotp09fpotp10Here we have the strong stuff. The Darke County Tractor Pullers Association is a pretty big organization and this was one of their events. I don’t know enough about it to describe things much beyond saying there were some really big tractors dragging a bunch of weight for a pretty good distance.

fpotp12fpotp11The previously pictured tractors were clearly not stock but I do believe they were powered by engines that began their life in a tractor. These are from a class powered by transplanted and modified V8s. The announcer referred to them as “hot rods” although I have no idea whether that’s an official designation or not.

fpotp13fpotp14Trucks followed the tractors with more classes as well as more total entries. I think we made it to the beginning of the final class but left well ahead of the final pull. If you don’t count the clutches that were sacrificed getting off the line, there was very little equipment damage. Only one tractor had needed a tow and the dragging drive-shaft on the blue Ford was the only failure we witnessed among the trucks. Opportunities remained, however.

ecta_om01Calling it the “Ohio Mile”, the East Coast Timing Association holds several events each year on the former DHL facility now known as Wilmington Air Park. Speed runs take place on the runway in the background while the foreground pavement is the return lane as well as being used by spectators and other traffic.

ecta_om02ecta_om03ecta_om04We parked then walked to the starting line where a wild variety of vehicles, in no particular order, awaited their turn. It took us awhile to figure it out but we eventually realized that entrants were not timed through the mile but were clocked at its end. There is no need for jackrabbit starts or even super quick acceleration.

ecta_om07ecta_om06ecta_om05After watching a few fairly unexciting starts, we set out for the other end of the track. On the way, we paused at one of the field’s more unusual vehicles. It’s a 1951 Crosley Super Sport whose owner believes will go 110 MPH. Whether it did that today is unknown. In fact, I didn’t realize we had seen the car on course until I was home and looked at my pictures. I’ll update this when results of this meet are posted but, for now, the only performance information I have is the 56.9548 MPH it turned in during the May meet. The website promoted on the car contains little information about the car but does include a video that, along with a certain amount of “Jesus is my mechanic” flavoring, has some pictures of the car being built.

ADDENDUM 27-Aug-2014: The Run Log posted by the ECTA shows that the Crosley managed a run of 97.6987 MPH. Not quite the targeted 110 but getting closer.

ecta_om08ecta_om09ecta_om10One reason that we don’t know how the Crosley did today is that there is nothing like a scoreboard or other visual indication of speeds or anything else. Nor is there any PA in the normal sense. There is a low powered FM radio broadcast which, had we brought a pocket radio or chose to sit in the car, would have kept us informed. As it was, we picked up the occasional scrap of information only when we passed an appropriately tuned radio.

ecta_om12ecta_om11This is pure conjecture but my guess is that about one-third of ECTA  members would like more spectators to help with expenses and another third want more spectators to add some legitimacy and prestige to what they are doing. To the remaining third, spectators are probably a real aggravation. When we did hear the announcer, it was interesting and definitely added to the enjoyment. A signboard flashing a car’s speed might help but I think a few radios hanging on poles would help more and probably cost less.

Trip Pic Peek #21
Trip #93
The Sailor’s Family

X-Ray Mirror at Museum of ManThis picture is from my 2011 The Sailor’s Family fly & drive trip to visit my youngest son in San Diego, California. At that time, he was assigned to the USS Boxer and I timed my visit to coincide with a planned “family day” cruise aboard the ship. My son, oldest grandson, and I did that while the daughter-in-law and youngest grandson did safer things. The oldest grandson and I also worked in a day trip on US-80 while the rest of the family fulfilled their normal obligations. The picture was taken the day all four of us spent at Balboa Park. Inside the Museum of Man, my son and youngest grandson stopped in front of a pair of skeletons in a scene that looked like a x-ray mirror. Although the stop was an accident, the humor and coolness of the scene was immediately realized by even the youngest among us. I had flown to San Diego from Indianapolis and an ice storm back home forced me to stay in San Diego a couple of extra days. Worse things can happen in early February.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Trip Pic Peek #20
Trip #53
Byway to Dublin

Plain City Clock TowerThis picture is from the my 2007 Byway to Dublin road trip. The purpose of the trip was to attend the big Celtic Festival in Dublin, Ohio, and I spiced the drive up just a little by using two of Ohio’s Scenic Byways to get there. The first was the state’s shortest designated byway, the ten mile Olentangy Heritage Corridor Byway, then the slightly longer twenty-seven mile Big Darby Plains Scenic Byway. I found some rather interesting sights beside both byways and the roads in between then had a great time at the festival on the second day of the trip.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

My Wheels – Chapter 11
1967 Dodge

1967_dodge_coronet2The crumpling of the Corvair was just one of several major events occurring within a few months time. Wreaking the Corvair led to purchasing another car and one of the other events led to purchasing a house. That event was my wife’s announcement that she was pregnant. We lived in a small one-bedroom apartment and immediately started looking for something larger. We looked at multi-bedroom apartments and a few rental houses. The owners of one house we looked at were considering renting as a last resort. They had already moved to a fancier place and were paying two mortgages. The financial strain coupled, I believe, with a little sympathy for the growing young family, resulted in them selling us the house on a land contract; a form of owner financing. So, in fairly short order, we became expectant parents, bought a three-bedroom house, and moved across town. Somewhere in there, we also bought a car.

We bought the car at one of those shady looking lots that can be found lined up on certain streets in every city. That’s not our car in the picture. Some of the paint looks really dull on the car in the picture and that wasn’t the case with our car at all. Otherwise, it’s a pretty close match. The lot where we made our purchase wasn’t a “buy here, pay here” place but it was barely one step removed. I’m sure the lot owner and the guy from the finance company were good friends or maybe related. The Dodge Coronet was no more than two years old but had obviously just been retired from some sort of fleet work. I don’t remember the mileage but doubt it was accurate, anyway. Other than the 318 V8 and automatic transmission, the car was completely devoid of options; not even a radio. But the salesman was slick and the dark blue four-door did look the part of a family sedan for our developing family image. I hung an 8-track player under the empty dash and used the new car to bring our new son to our new house.

Here are a couple of stories involving this car.

Our house sat on a hillside with a small almost unusable garage in the back at the level of the walkout basement. The driveway sloped sharply beside the house. The normal parking spot was about even with the front of the house at the top of the slope. One night, at just about the same time as I heard my wife at the door, I heard a loud bang. Half joking, I said something about the car rolling. She was only part way through the door and, looking over her shoulder, assured me that the car was still there. We laughed and forgot about it — until morning. When I headed off to work, there was no car in the driveway. Most likely left in “Drive”. it had rolled down the slope and halfway over a low stone wall at the top of a steeper and longer slope. It took a tow truck with a long cable to winch the car from its perch atop the wall.

During the time we had the Dodge, I was in a band and occasionally towed a trailer full of equipment. That wasn’t at all good for the transmission which I’m sure wasn’t treated particularly kindly in its previous life. It eventually died and was sent off to some shade tree mechanic for a rebuild. It seems likely that what he did was swap in an oldie from a junkyard but the car once again became mobile and I was happy. Before long, however, the transmission started slipping again. This happened while I was visiting my friend John and he was pretty sure the problem was merely a clogged filter. After we pulled the pan off of the transmission, we realized we needed some technical information so we took out our smart phones and looked up the specifications for a ’67 Coronet. Actually we did the 1970 equivalent and drove to the library to copy some information from a Chilton auto repair manual. Before leaving, we placed the transmission pan on some trash cans beside John’s house. I’m sure our jaws really dropped when we got back from the library and realized that the trash man had come and gone in our absence. Our panic was short lived, however, as John’s wife pointed to the pan lying beside the door. The trash man had started to cart off the detached piece of my car then had second thoughts and knocked at the door to see if it might not really be part of the week’s trash. Saved from myself by another unnamed hero.

Trip Pic Peek #19
Trip #12
Jaggin’ to Georgetown

Ohio Valley Antique Machinery ShowThis picture is from the my 2003 Jaggin’ to Georgetown day trip. At the time I had a GPS unit that could tell me how far away something was and in what direction but did no routing. I frequently used it to get somewhere by turning in the general direction of my destination whenever a turn was required. I called this “jagging”. While this might produce a nice stair step path on roads laid out like a checkerboard, this was seldom the case in the real world and some interesting things might pop up. On this occasion, I “jagged” my way to an antique farm machinery show in Georgetown. Ohio, where I also visited Ulysses Grant’s boyhood home and school.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Summits to Salt Flats
2014 Lincoln Highway Conference

pic02bI am now en route to the 2014 Lincoln Highway Association conference in Tooele, Utah. I will eventually pick up some new-to-me LH on the way but it will take a another day to get to the planned start of the trip in Denison, Iowa.

On Saturday, as I prepared the framework for this post, I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save”. I immediately “unpublished” it but some email alerts were sent. I apologize for any confusion that created. This time it’s for real.

The trip journal is here. This blog entry is to make blog-only followers aware of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

Road Trip Essentials
A My Gear Extra

rtecolI recently received a request/suggestion for a post on “must have” road trip items. I initially blew it off but returned to it a week or so later. Since I am about to actually head out on a road trip, I need to stockpile some “dateless” (“timeless” almost, but not quite, fits) articles for posting while I travel. You know, the “Trip Pic Peek” or “My Wheels” sort of things that have no connection to what I’m actually doing but can be posted at anytime to meet the blog’s every Sunday schedule. In the middle of generating a couple of “Trip Pic Peeks”, I remembered the email and realized that the suggested “Road Trip Essentials” was as good a topic as any. Of course, it would take more time than a “Trip Pic Peek” but it could be sort of a consolidated “My Gear” and it might be fun. If it also made somebody (the requester) happy, even better.

The request came from RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car rental outfit. I’d never heard of them and naming them is not meant to endorse them but I could see that continued references to “the requester” were going to get old. Though the services offered are different, the contact from RelayRides reminded me of a recent conversation with some friends about Uber, a person-to-person taxi service. After using Uber on several occasions in a couple of different cities, they were singing its praises. These person-to-person/peer-to-peer businesses are certainly worth keeping an eye on. The RelayRides call was for blog posts that could tie into an upcoming “Road Trip Essentials” campaign. There is absolutely nothing in it for me except the possibility of an extra visitor or two but neither are there any restrictions or guidelines. The friendly and conversational request used playlists, caffeine, and frozen grapes as possible essentials so my list may be a little more serious than what they’re thinking. I believe everyone knows, however, that, while I take my road trips seriously, they are rarely serious trips. There was no actual suggestion that I include a collage but the word was used twice and I figured making a small one might be fun. It was.

The camera needs little explanation. If I’m on a full tilt road trip, I need pictures for the daily updates and there are other trips taken with the clear intent of using all or part of the outing in a blog entry. In addition to pictures that, if they’re not too crappy, might appear in a journal or blog entry, I use a camera to take notes. Snapping a photo of a sign or menu is a lot easier and less error prone than trying to write down what I think I might want to know later. Even when there is no advance thought of documenting any part of a trip, l want a camera near by in case some Martians land along the road or Bruce Springsteen’s car breaks down and he needs a ride.

I imagine that almost everyone now considers a GPS unit at least useful on a trip. It can keep you from reaching Tijuana instead of Vancouver and can be a great help in finding gas, food, or lodging. I do use mine to find motels and restaurants and such but I also use it in a manner that makes it truly essential. Many of my trips are on historic (i.e., imaginary) highways. They probably don’t appear on any current map or atlas and there are few, if any, signs to follow. Even if there were, I typically travel alone with no one to constantly read maps or watch for signs. What I do is plot the exact route I want to follow and load it into the GPS unit which then verbally directs me along my chosen path. Yes, it does require a fair amount of advance work and a more capable than average GPS unit.

Even with every turn programmed into the GPS, I pack guide books and maps. The GPS can fail, the situation on the ground might not match the plotted course, or my intentions might simply change. Plus, guidebooks like those in the picture provide valuable information when putting together a journal or blog entry.

The last item pictured, the cell phone, is the electronic Swiss army knife of our age. It is almost essential to everybody everyday just to talk, text, search, and email. In my case, in the context of road trips, it is also essential as a backup camera and as a voice recorder. Not too long ago, I would have included a small voice recorder in my essentials but the phone now serves to make quick notes especially while driving. I still carry a digital recorder for use when appropriate but it no longer rides on the seat beside me.

rtecabOf course, all of those accessories have their own accessories. For many years, I only bought gear that used AA batteries on the theory that I could always buy power at the corner drug store if required. I believe that happened once. I carried around a bag of nicads and the chargers to fill them in either car or motel. I eventually had to abandon that position but I still cling to the ability to recharge everything whether stopped or on the go. I now carry spare proprietary batteries and AC/DC chargers for two different cameras and a cell phone. I do not carry a spare for the GPS since I seldom operate it on battery power.

I’ll also almost always have my laptop along and some music/podcasts, and maybe, depending on departure time and length of trip, a thermos of coffee and a cooler. The cooler will have water or Gatorade and possibly a beer or two. There will probably be some carrots, or apple slices, or grapes in there, too. Next time, the grapes might even be frozen.

Music Review
Belle of the Blues
Lisa Biales

belleblues_cvrThey did it again. Co-producers EG Kight and Paul Hornsby captured another set of tracks that feature Lisa’s wonderful voice but don’t short the listener one bit in the sound behind it. Back in 2012, Kight, Hornsby, and Biales hooked up for Just Like Honey which contained some Biales and Kight originals but consisted largely of tunes written by or associated with a number of Biales’ influences. Those influences are not totally ignored here, there’s a tune written by Memphis Minnie and another that Bessie Smith made famous, but Kight wrote or collaborated on seven of the eleven songs on Belle of the Blues.

As they did on on Just Like Honey, Tommy Talton (guitar) and Bill Stewart (drums) appear on every track with Tommy Vickery and Johnny Fountain splitting bass duties to bound out the core trio of backing musicians. This line up is frequently augmented by the likes of Pat Bergeson on harmonica, Ken Wynn on guitar, and Randall Bramlett on organ. Kight adds some vocal and guitar help and Hornsby plays piano on several tracks. Something that I thought a nice touch, although it only shows up in the digital version of the track listing, is the identity of featured musicians in the titles. Examples are “Sad Sad Sunday (Featuring Tommy Talton & Randall Bramblett)” and “Belle of the Blues (Featuring Pat Bergeson)”.

Despite all the talent involved in writing, recording, and playing, this is clearly a Lisa Biales album. Her voice is out front and in control of every song from the sultry “Sad Sad Sunday through the raucous “Bad Girl”. She even takes charge of “Trouble”, a song firmly associated with Kight (she wrote it and made it the title track of a 2000 release) in a way that, while it won’t make you forget EG, will sure make you remember Lisa.


botbcdr1botbcdr2In Nashville, the Long Players exist solely to deliver live performances of entire albums. Individual songs may be rearranged to fit specific performers but when they do an album, they do it all and they do it in the same sequence it once appeared on your turntable. That’s the way I first heard Belle of the Blues. At Friday’s CD release in Oxford, Ohio, Lisa started things off by performing all eleven songs “just like the record”. I believe it was also the official debut of the quartet she’s calling the Belle of the Blues Band and with which she will be preforming other shows in the coming months. I won’t claim that this group (Bill Littleford guitar, Dave Mackey drums, Noah Cope bass, Chuck Wiggins keys) is better than the high powered crew that did the studio version, but I can report that they are mighty good and the performance was not wanting in any way.

botbcdr3A short break followed the album then the group returned to do an assortment of songs from Lisa’s repertoire. One was a Jimi Hendrix tune that Lisa has been performing at least since 2010 when she included it on her Closet Hippie CD. As a result, I got to hear the Little Wing solo performed on accordion for the first time ever. I liked it.

Real Royalties

me_terryI get a little bit of money whenever a copy of By Mopar to the Golden Gate gets sold. It’s called a royalty though it’s hardly royal in the crown and sceptre sense of the word. In time, book sales might produce enough cash to cover the giveaways but that’s far from certain and it’s not even a goal. I didn’t write the book to make money. I wrote it partly as a bucket list checkoff and partly to gain a little notoriety in the road fan community. But the best benefit of all was one that had never even occurred to me.

dgadvocatetAnother graduate from my high school has long worked at my home county’s only newspaper. Her name is Linda Moody and she writes features on a variety of subjects along with a regular column on our shared home town, Ansonia, Ohio. It was through an article of hers that I first learned of a book written by another school mate which I reviewed here. That gave my sister an idea and the next time she saw Linda she told her about the book I had just written and that led to an interview and article. That was very cool, of course, but it’s not the big benefit that I’m writing about.

The article prompted a few contacts from people who saw it and recognized me. One was an email from the fellow beside me in the photo. The photo is from the first time Terry Wolfe and I have seen each other in forty-seven years. I’ve actually mentioned Terry in this blog when I wrote about the 1952 Ford I bought from him. Starting about the time I entered my teens, I spent much of each summer with my grandparents who lived in a very small town. Make that a VERY small town. Two boys of roughly the same age naturally spent a lot of time together on bicycles and on foot and, once in awhile, on something that floated on the nearby Stillwater River. We attended different high schools but remained close friends into our motorized years and through graduation. At some point, bound up in our own lives and families, we lost contact.

I know we’ve both thought of each other now and then over the years. My Dad once told me about seeing a poem of Terry’s in the paper and I made quickly forgotten plans to contact him. Fortunately, Terry was much better at following through when he saw the article on the book. First came an email that led to a phone call that led to some vague but sincere plans to get together. Those plans came together two weeks ago.

When I knew I would be in Darke County without a tight schedule, I checked with Terry to see if he would be around. He would so after doing a few chores at my stepmother’s, I headed his way. Terry has retained some of his mechanical skills and keeps them honed by restoring and showing Wheel Horse tractors as a hobby. We talked about some works-in-process and several show ready “Horses” as we got reacquainted. Then, after an extended session of “sittin’ & rememberin'”, we, along with Terry’s wife Sue, headed to a nearby pizza parlor for a couple cold ones, some excellent pizza, and a few more memory tests. We will definitely do it again.

rrdg65rrtw65I’ve no record of what we looked like forty-seven years ago, but here we are forty-nine years ago as high school seniors. I won’t try to analyse those forty-seven years nor will I profess some sort of regret. That’s just the way life works. And I won’t claim that writing a book was solely responsible for that recent meeting. It does, however, get some of the credit and hearing from and connecting with Terry was a terrific “royalty” that I sure had not anticipated.

Celebrating the Connection

mcohc01Celebrating two weeks in a row. I’m in either a rut or a groove. Last week’s post was on my visit to the “Diana: A Celebration” exhibit in Cincinnati. This one is on my visit to a “Member Celebration” in Columbus on Saturday, May 24. This is the third such event for the organization though for the first two the celebrants were members of the Ohio Historical Society and they are now members of the Ohio History Connection. The first public use of the new name was part of the celebration.

mcohc02mcohc03mcohc04The “Member Celebration” was at the Ohio History Center and coincided with the season opening of the adjacent Ohio Village which, in turn, coincided with the opening of a two day Civil War era Soldiers’ Aid Fair.

mcohc07mcohc06mcohc05This display of rare and exotic items may not have been the biggest or most highly promoted aspect of the fair but it was my favorite.

mcohc08mcohc09mcohc10Like many events at Ohio Village, a parade preceded an official opening proclamation. Weary and even wounded soldiers, presumably home on leave, joined in and helped elevate both patriotism and sympathy.

mcohc12mcohc11The celebration included a members only lunch but this is no small club. The picture shows part of the line, which I eventually joined, for the second seating. The closest things got to formal was a brief speech by Executive Director Bert Logan. There were thanks, of course, and something of an explanation for the name change. Although he didn’t use these exact words, the impression l have is that “Ohio Historical Society” often conjured up images of little old ladies and dusty old men sitting in dim parlors talking about old stuff. In surveys, “Ohio History Connection” created an image of something much more active and accessible. He pointed out that we not only need to preserve things for future generations but make those things available and interesting and understandable for future generations. Judging from the number of youngish folks both attending and participating, it seems Ohio’s history outfit is doing a pretty good job whatever the name.