Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not My Victrola

fuzzbear6240 is another You Tube phonograph enthusiast. Here is his Victrola playing a 12 inch Columbia disc of 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, Medley Waltz'. Introducing: 1—Somehow You're Just My Style, 2—Loving Eyes (Kenbrovin and Kellette, 1—Howard, 2—Foote), Columbia Orchestra (Charles A. Prince, Director). Dance Music, Under the Supervision of G. Hepburn Wilson. First issued circa early 1919.

The 12 inch discs play for about 4 1/2 minutes instead of just over 3 minutes with the 10 inch records. Fuzzbear has several good selections, and we will be putting up more of them in the future.

Weekend Steam

We have sad news for this week's steam report. Steam Traction is no longer going to be published. Reverend Elmer Ritzman began publishing his Farm Album Magazine in the 1940's; four issues a year cost $1.00. With the September-October issue in 1950 he changed the name to The Iron-Men Album Magazine, and charged $1.50 for six issues. Elmer began publishing The Gas Engine Magazine in 1966. Ogden Publications of Topeka, Kansas took over both of these magazines in recent years, but they have decided to drop Steam Traction and publish their steam articles in Farm Collector.

The old timers who wrote articles for the original publications are all gone now, and combining different aspects of antique machinery collecting into one magazine makes a lot of sense. Time marches on. Be sure to check out the links on the Steam Traction website for Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine.
Be sure to also check the Engineers and Engines website; E & E is also an excellent publication for old machinery enthusiasts. These magazines are an important forum for collectors and I encourage you to subscribe if you enjoy the hobby.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


 Mrs. True Blue Sam and I drove her parents around the countryside on Memorial Day to visit some of the local cemeteries. M.I.L knows an incredible number of people who are no longer with us, and she can tell you family histories and genealogies in great detail. She should write a book about this neighborhood. That is The Mrs. playing dueling cameras with me.
This is the remains of the church that goes with the cemetery above. M.I.L. went to church here when she was a kid. When it was no longer a church, hogs were kept in the lean-to built on the south side, and the original building was used as a storage building. These old buildings crumble pretty fast when the roof goes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Personal Protective Equipment

I ran across this video on You Tube, and it shows why you should always wear your safety gear when you fire up your saw. The operator is cutting hams in this video, so there is no blood, but it will hold your attention. It is important to note that chaps may not prevent you from being cut, but they will jam your saw, and can greatly reduce the severity of injuries, and may save your life. Older chaps are usually oil soaked, and they do not stop a saw as effectively as new chaps. Follow the manufacturer's advice on cleaning your chaps so they will work when you need them.

Retire your chaps when they are old, oily, or cut. Cut the straps off of them so you won't be tempted to use them again. They make great pads to use on your shooting bench.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Marchers, 1955

"The new motel at Americus was clean and comfortable, the bed smooth; still I could not sleep. Again I looked at my watch: a little after 4 A.M., so it would be hours before the February sun appeared. I got up and dressed. I drove into northeast blackness along that road grown so familiar-Georgia State Highway Number 49. The road brought me, eleven miles away, into a dark unpopulated valley where water trickled from a certain storied spring.

For a time I parked near that spring. Frogs were singing like birds along a tiny watercourse where new grasses tufted fresh as salad leaves. There was the thought of monuments looming, thought of a bareheaded boy made of bronze who stands, cap in hand and eternally youthful face uplifted amid a low forest of white marble slabs. But the graves were yonder, to the north. Now I did not wish to go there-I was heartily afraid to go, although I had gone many times before in daylight, and on occasion illegally in darkness. Regulations declare that a United States Military Cemetery may not be visited at night; yet on occasion I had sinned so, and had not felt myself a sinner; I'd felt that I belonged there. Almost I might wish to lie there eventually, could it be permitted. I felt that I was nearer to those dead than I was near to a breathing, sleeping world of mortal men and women.

About five o'clock I drove up the south slope of this valley and parked near the summit. Barely in gloom could I make out the few naked markers which approximate the position of the old Andersonville stockade. Actually I stood within the stockade area-the South Gate would have been over here, to the left; the gallows directly ahead, the raiders' pavilion ahead to the right. Still that constant spurting symphony of frog voices cried in the pretty ravine, the ravine I could scarcely distinguish in its mystery.

Clouds were thick, oppressive, blocking the light of even a single star. An owl spoke among underbrush masking the ancient Island. All fifty-odd thousand of you, I thought. Where do you drift now? Guards and prisoners alike-Henry Wirz with the rope mark on your dusty neck-sniveling child and hulking bully, serene martyr and master-of-the-hounds...I thought (in that intense awareness of one's own dream the egoistic concentration which impels one to to tell the story which he feels must be told)-Men and boys, I am here, waiting. Where have you gone?

I heard them coming. They twitched in a whispering rank from woods at the north, they rose up beyond statues and the superintendent's house; they came walking, massed and steady. Gently, they traveled through and over and under distant trees, came out into open ground where little circular fences protected the wells and tunnels they had dug-black pits drilled down though colored layers of clay. The marchers passed the fences easily, pacing nearer and nearer. There would be no resisting them.

I turned in panic, and stumbled back to my car, I flung myself into the front seat, heard the frightened slam of the car door go banging off through haunted distance. It was no illusion- I heard those soft footed thousands walking ever closer. Now their phalanx was pressing down the opposite slope, passing Providence Spring. I had summoned them, their reply was in their implacable approach.

Why was I afraid-I, who had called them brothers for so long in my mind, who dared to feel that I belonged in their misty column? It was not solely a fear of ghosts, a quailing away from the Dead. I had been close to death on a number of occasions in two wars, had walked within Buchenwald, had climbed into trucks loaded with dead, had tripped across their stiff outflung arms when they lay upon the ground. It was something more. In the next moment, as that unseen soft-treading horde pressed over the crest of the Sweetwater branch, I recognized the answer.

They had come to tell me that there must be no compromise, I had invoked their name and thought for nearly twenty-five years; they were thronging at last to force me to the task.

I was crying. I had not cried in many years, but now I was crying. Get out of the car, I said. You must show them that you have fear no longer, that you are ready to accept orders. My feet were on the grass, the door clicked shut behind me. I stood waiting. The wide rustling rank moved fairly in my face. Then they were touching me, they were all around me, brushing my face and hands, the hair of my head.


A thin slow-speaking, slow-stepping rain had formed somewhere among miles and ages of darkness before dawn. So it had moved on many small feet from the direction of the cemeterey, had walked open glades, put its coolness on monuments, now it was touching me. I was glad to brushed by it, glad to feel it on my lips.

At this time I had written perhaps twenty-five thousand words on Andersonville, and knew that I must write at least three hundred thousand more. Often the recollection of that rain walking the late hours of a Georgia night came to prod or sustain me......

And the breath of these Andersonville people was especially compulsive; it came cooled by the ice of ninety years, ninety years to the minute.

The book was not written chronologically-few books of such scope could be written chronologically. Nevertheless, it was begun ninety years from the month when the stockade was first reared; and Providence Spring burst forth exactly ninety years from the week when Providence Spring did burst forth; and the last tattered relics were conveyed from the pen in May, 1865; and last word of this novel was written in May, 1955, and strangely the last word happened to be Andersonville."

Excerpts from The Marchers, 1955, page 308 in The Day I Met A Lion, by MacKinlay Kantor, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1968

Not My Victrola: Memorial Day Weekend Special

Under the Double Eagle; a great patriotic selection!

Poets' Corner: Memorial Day

The stars are shining bright above the camps,
The bugle calls float skyward, faintly clear;
Over the hill the mist-veiled motor lamps
Dwindle and disappear.
The notes of day's goodbye arise and blend
With the low murmurous hum from tree and sod,
And swell into that question at the end
They ask each night of God--
Whether the dead within the burial ground
Will ever overthrow their crosses grey,
And rise triumphant from each lowly mound
To greet the dawning day.
Whether the eyes which battle sealed in sleep
Will open to reveille once again,
And forms, once mangled, into rapture leap,
Forgetful of their pain.
But still the stars above the camp shine on,
Giving no answer for our sorrow's ease,
And one more day with the Last Post has gone,
Dying upon the breeze.
Vera Brittain, V.A.D. Nurse

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekend Steam

Photo from the November 1965 issue of Engineers and Engines
Ted Young began showing his engines more than forty years ago; he and his family are still at Old Threshers every Labor Day weekend operating his creations for your enjoyment. The steam and gas engine show season is upon us, so check out the links on the right side and make your travel plans.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Disaster Waiting To Happen

This red maple resides only thirty feet from a house, and it presents a serious risk to the homeowner. Early in its life it forked, probably because of storm damage, or improper pruning. The forks are "Bad Branch Angles," a safety defect in any tree, because steep branch angles are easily torn off in storms. The fork closest to the camera is at least a strong joint, but the one in back has included bark, which makes the fork even more likely to fail. Included bark means that the two sides of the fork are pushing each other apart as the tree grows, and failure is inevitable. Strong joints have a ridge between the stem and the branch. Joints with included bark do not have the ridge.

Looking up in this tree, we see two more problems. Old topping wounds are sending rot down the branches, which are reaching over the house. The branch nearest the lens has a split running for several feet, so this branch is failing already, and is likely to come down in any blustery weather.
Soft maples are popular as shade trees because they produce shade in a hurry, but numerous problems come with that speed. The wood is weak, it rots easily if the tree is wounded, and the roots tend to run on top of the ground, making the tree very susceptible to root rot due to wounding from lawnmowers. Homeowners regularly top these trees to control the height, and that introduces rot, and bad forks. My advice to people wanting to plant new trees in their yard is to keep soft maples at least 100 feet away from the house. They will grow to 90 feet tall, and you have a little safety margin. If they are planted any closer to your house, someone is eventually going to have a very expensive removal problem.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No License Required

Nice gobbler bagged with the camera.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Memorable Encounter

A few days ago this bluebird created quite a racket and kept circling me. I clicked off several pictures before I came to the realization that this was not normal behavior. Her not-quite-ready -to -fledge offspring was on the ground, practically at my feet. I gently "herded" the baby to the root swells of a white oak so it would be somewhat concealed from predators and left the area.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Not My Victrola

A jazzy number recorded in 1923.

Poets' Corner

pete s holiday

we found a hill all green with grass
and cool with clover bloom
where bees go booming as they pass
boom zoom boom

my master took me in the car
and high upon the hill
we lay and stared up at the clouds
until the day grew chill
and moths came floating from the sky
and shadows stroked the ground
and we lay still and stared and stared
and what do you think we found

we found a star between the clouds
upon the edge of night
but when i jumped and barked at it
it hid itself in fright

then we drove back to town again
with my head on his lap
it tires a dog to scare a star
and then he needs a nap

my master is the same as god
when he thumps with his hand
people bring us hamburg steaks
at any eating stand

o master let us go right now
and find another star
and eat another hamburg steak
at a refreshment bar

pete the pup

From: the lives & times of archy and mehitabel by don marquis doubleday & doran

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Not My Victrola

Here is another treat from our You Tube friend Rolf. If you go to the video's comments you will see some discussion about the speed at which this piece is played. It is a great performance regardless of the speed, and it was recorded in 1926! I am sure you will enjoy it.

Weekend Steam

This weekend's featured steam photo is from the July-August 1968 Iron Men Album. This is a Best engine, and the photo was given to The Iron Men-Album by Robert Culshaw, Advertising Division, Caterpillar Tractor Co, Peoria, IL.

Below is a video from You Tube of a Best engine under steam.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Crankin' It Up

You will notice that Uncle Josh Buys an Automobile is another well worn veteran. I am always a bit surprised at how much I enjoy this type of entertainment; I guess I am old fashioned. Just in case this one is not enough: *.

Tonight I pulled the motor out of the old Brunswick and oiled the bearings and gears. I had run out of adjustment on the governor and the motor was running at 79 RPM with the needle on the record. I was able to move the governor's rubbing block a bit, and now the phonograph is turning a very proper 78 while playing records. My ears aren't sensitive enough to notice a problem with one or two extra turns per minute, but some of the You Tube critics have commented.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Easy Street

A common complaint I hear about today's cars is that the owner can no longer work on them like we could in the not too distant past. We still have to change oil, change various filters, plus grease a few joints, and change the antifreeze occasionally. These are all tasks that are easily done at home.

We used to service the ignition system much more frequently than we do now, and I really like the longer service interval. The points and condenser had to be changed every 10,000 to 15,000 miles before we had electronic ignition, and after changing those parts you had to adjust the timing. Some cars do not even have a distributor now, and on those cars you only need to change the sparkplugs once in a while. The 2000 Chevy we drive now still uses a distributor, and the only difficult part of servicing it is getting to it. We put nearly 160,000 miles on the old distributor cap and rotor before they failed, so we have had to service this assembly only 1/10 as often as we would have in the good old days.

In the first photo you will see that I have marked the sparkplug wires before I pulled them (with a marker or a pen; not a pencil), then removed the old cap and rotor, which each were secured with two screws.

Here are the new parts which were purchased at a local parts establishment. The rotor can only fit on its boss one way, so you can't put it on wrong. Install it with the two new screws supplied in the rotor package.

The distrubutor cap goes on next, and you only have to snug down two screws to install it
Give each sparkplug wire and the coil wire a little shot of silicone spray and install them on the cap

Crank it up. It should run just fine now. If your ignition coil has 100,000 miles or more on it, you should change it while you are under the hood. I didn't, and two weeks later the car let me know about my mistake.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Scooter and Petey are two more of our rescued pets. Scooter was dumped as a kitten, and Petey wandered in for meals as a young adult. They come running every night to greet me when I come home from work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Struck By Lightning!

Lightning does not always kill trees when it hits; it often wounds. Trees commonly have scars caused by minor strikes which heal over and do not seriously affect the health of the tree. What should you do if one of your trees takes a hit like this one? The answer depends on the location, possible targets, and your reasons for growing your trees. This fresh wound is on a black oak, which may now become infected with the oak-wilt fungus. The tree will die if that happens so there will be no decision to make in that instance. If the tree survives, it will begin decaying. If there are targets within reach of a tree with damage this severe, you should cut your losses and remove it in the near future.
This white oak was hit several years ago, and rot is progressing nicely in this tree. It is located in timber far away from any high value targets, and though it is now worthless as timber, it is still valuable for wildlife food, seed to regenerate this stand in white oak, and for wildlife dens.

It is not crowding any future crop trees, so it still has a positive benefit balance, and is not hazardous to anyone unless they stand under it in a storm. Even though it is in bad physical shape, it will be left in the stand. If this tree happened to be in a park, next to a house or next to a high value tree, it would need to be cut.

Monday, May 12, 2008


This is a test for old kids!

1. After the Lone Ranger saved the day and rode off into the sunset, the grateful citizens would ask "Who was that masked man?" Invariably, someone would answer "I don't know, but he left this behind." What did he leave behind?

2. When the Beatles first came to the U.S. in early 1964, we all watched them on The _______________ Show.

3. Get your kicks, ___________________.

4. The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed___________________.

5. In the jungle, the mighty jungle, ________________.

6. After the Twist, The Mashed Potato, and the Watusi, we 'danced' under a stick that was lowered as low as we could go in a dance called the ___________.

7. N_E_S_T_L_E_S, Nestle's makes the very best....... _______________.

8. Satchmo was America 's 'Ambassador of Goodwill.' Our parents shared this great jazz trumpet player with us. His name was _________________.

9. What takes a licking and keeps on ticking? _______________.

10. Red Skelton's hobo character was named __________________ and Red always ended his television show by saying, 'Good Night, and '________ ________'.

11. Some Americans who protested the Vietnam War did so by burning their______________.

12. The cute little car with the engine in the back and the trunk in the front was called the VW . What other names did it go by? ____________ & _______________.

13. In 1971, singer Don MacLean sang a song about, 'the day the music died.'This was a tribute to ___________________.

14. We can remember the first satellite placed into orbit. The Russians did it. It was called ___________________.

15. One of the big fads of the late 50's and 60's was a large plastic ring that we twirled around our waist. It was called the ________________.

I'm old enough to know all of these, and just young enough that I haven't forgotten them. If you need help, ask in comments and I will post the answers.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Not My Victrola

This excellent recording of Do You Ever Think of Me? was made for Columbia on January 21st, 1921. I have listened to this song many times on my Great Aunt Bessie's player piano, so it is one of my favorites. kspm01 over at You Tube recorded this one for everyone to enjoy. Check out his channel; he does excellent work copying old records.

Poets' Corner

While walking down a crowded
City street the other day,
I heard a little urchin
To a comrade turn and say,
"Say, Chimmey, lemme tell youse,
I'd be happy as a clam
If I only was de feller dat
Me mudder t'inks I am.
"She t'inks I am a wonder,
An' she knows her little lad
Could never mix wit' nuttin'
Dat was ugly, mean or bad.
Oh, lot o' times I sit and t'ink
How nice, 'twould be, gee whiz!
If a feller was de feller
Dat his mudder t'inks he is."
My friends, be yours a life of toil
Or undiluted joy,
You can learn a wholesome lesson
From that small, untutored boy.
Don't aim to be an earthly saint,
With eyes fixed on a star:
Just try to be the fellow that
Your mother thinks you are.

Will S. Adkin

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Crankin' It Up: Bird Count Bonus!

In honor of Illinois' annual Bird Count today, and for your gratification, we are posting another novelty record which celebrates our feathered friends.

Not My Victrola

This is a very good quality rendition of "The Glowworm" made from a 1909 cylinder recording.

Weekend Steam

From the pages of the April 1967 Engineers and Engines Magazine is a page reprinted from an old catalog. The purpose of the upper engine can be deduced by reading the fine print: "Capacity ample to supply 150 horse power Boiler." This engine is a feed water pump to supply a boiler.

The lower engine's purpose is more obvious; it is a hoisting engine. This type of engine is educational by virtue of the very visible reversing gear. You can see an engine similar to this one in operation at Midwest Old Threshers.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nice While It Lasted

Dogwoods have been in bloom for a week now, and today's heavy rains will pretty well finish off this spring's show. We should have lots of colorful fruit next fall.

Out Back

Susan bagged this beauty during our outing on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Last Day of Turkey Season

Our friends Bill and Troy hunted on our farm for two of Illinois' five turkey seasons this year. I thought they were going to be skunked, but they both connected on the last day posssible. Congratulations!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Extreme Wedging

Here is a very nice video from chainsaw safety instructor Tim Ard, which demonstrates the use of mutiple wedges to lift a large tree. Multiple wedges share large loads, making it possible for you to tip heavy loads over center. Be sure and note how he stacks two wedges for extra lift. You can learn more about chainsaw techniques at Tim's website:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Not My Victrola

Poets' Corner


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A. E. Housman

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weekend Steam

Here is a very nice threshing scene from the November-December 1957 issue of The Iron-Men Album.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Henry Burr was a prolific artist in the early days of recorded music, and there are many discs in our record cabinet with his name. When My Baby Smiles is a very pleasant little love song by Irving Berlin, and I think you will enjoy it.

(Irving Berlin, 1919)
I don't care if the weather's fair or if skies are gray,
I don't frown when the rain comes down on a rainy day;
It may storm and thunder for the longest while
Still I'll say it's a lovely day,
When I see my baby smile.

I don't brood when the price of food goes away up high,
Didn't mind when I woke to find, that the town went dry;
Let the skies be cloudy for the longest while
Blue or gray, everythings O.K.
When I see my baby smile.

When my baby smiles at me
Oh what a beautiful day
All my troubles go hurrying by
Just like bubbles they fly to the sky,
And I never ask the weather man
Whether it's fair or warmer
Rain or shine the weather's fine when my baby smiles.