Friday, February 29, 2008

Weekend Steam

 The Mrs. and I will be on the road tomorrow, so we are posting the Weekend Steam Picture ahead of our normal schedule. This is from one of our old magazines; click on it to enlarge. If you haven't read the post on corn cribs, click on the antique label and roll down.

Crankin' It Up

This evening's selection is a lighthearted vaudeville song recorded by Al Jolson in 1921. This record has obvious wear from repeated playing, so the volume is a little weak. I did a Google search and found a CD with a nice selection of early Jolson recordings. The samples I listened to sound much better than the LP I bought thirty years ago with copies of the same songs. The new technology is making these old recordings available to the masses again. That's good, because the original records aren't getting any easier to find.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Seen One Of These?

This beauty was at Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers last year. A close look revealed that I had never seen an engine like this one before. Instead of a reciprocating steam engine, this machine has a rotary steam engine. Luckily for the visitors to Old Threshers, it was fired up and operated. If you are wondering what kind of sound a rotary steam engine makes, just press your lips together and blow. Maybe the sound is the reason these did not catch on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Post From Ernie

From Chapter IX, Detour By Water:

Jack Collins said it was a lie that he told lies. He said he never told anything but the truth. He said he was hunting deer one fall, and a beauty came out of the woods toward him four hundred yards away, so he pulled up and let him have it. Just as he shot, he said, the deer made a lightning reverse turn, and started back for the woods, but dropped dead after a step or two.
Well, they went down and started cutting up the deer. They saw that the bullet had hit the deer in the eye. Suddenly one of the fellows said, "Hey, what's this?" He pointed to a small tree nearby that had been freshly splintered, apparently by a bullet. So they looked around, and traced the splinters over the snow for about fifteen feet, and there lay the bullet. It came from John Collins' gun all right, and he had fired only one shot. Then they examined the deer more closely, but found no place where the bullet had come out. So, the bullet had gone into the deer, and apparently had not come out, and yet there it was on the ground. How would you explain that?
Well, here's the way John Collins explained it "Remember," he said, "the deer made a fast reverse turn just as I shot. Well, what happened was that the bullet went into the deer's eye but the deer changed ends so fast that the bullet, still traveling in the same direction, came right out of the deer's eye the same place it went in, and then hit the tree and bounced off. It was the damnedest thing I ever saw."

From Home Country by Ernie Pyle, William Sloane associates, Inc. 1947

Monday, February 25, 2008

Start Your Collection!

From the Calendar at

The Big Muddy Longbeards, Mt. Vernon area chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, will hold their 17th annual Hunting Heritage Banquet Dinner and Auction on Saturday, March 22nd, at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon. The doors will open at 5:00 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Both live and silent auctions will be held, as well as several raffles including a huge ladies raffle. The proceeds will be used for the restoration and managment of the American Wild Turkey and preservation of the hunting heritage. For tickets, call Tom XXXXX at XXX-XXXX or XXX-XXXX.

If you have been looking for a huge lady to round out your collection, this looks like the place to be. If you are just interested in promoting wildlife, that's OK, too. Go to the WFIW website and click on Calendar if you are interested.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Poets' Corner


Now Eddie Malone got a swell grammyfone to draw all the trade to his store;
An' sez he: "Come along for a season of song, which the like ye had niver before."
Then Dogrib, an' Slave, an' Yellow-knife brave, an' Cree in his dinky canoe,
Confluated near, to see an' to hear Ed's grammyfone make its dayboo.

Then Ed turned the crank, an' there on the bank they squatted like bumps on a log.
For acres around there wasn't a sound, not even the howl of a dog.
When out of the horn there sudden was born such a marvellous elegant tone;
An' then like a spell on that auddyence fell the voice of its first grammyfone.

"BAD MEDICINE!" cried Old Tom, the One-eyed, an' made for to jump in the lake;
But no one gave heed to his little stampede, so he guessed he had made a mistake.
Then Roll-in-the-Mud, a chief of the blood, observed in choice Chippewayan:
"You've brought us canned beef, an' it's now my belief that this
here's a case of `CANNED MAN'."

Well, though I'm not strong on the Dago in song, that sure got me goin' for fair.
There was Crusoe an' Scotty, an' Ma'am Shoeman Hank, an' Melber an' Bonchy was there.
'Twas silver an' gold, an' sweetness untold to hear all them big guinneys sing;
An' thick all around an' inhalin' the sound, them Indians formed in a ring.

So solemn they sat, an' they smoked an' they spat, but their eyes sort o' glistened an' shone;
Yet niver a word of approvin' occurred till that guy Harry Lauder came on.
Then hunter of moose, an' squaw an' papoose jest laughed till their stummicks was sore;
Six times Eddie set back that record an' yet they hollered an' hollered for more.

I'll never forget that frame-up, you bet; them caverns of sunset agleam;
Them still peaks aglow, them shadders below, an' the lake like a petrified dream;
The teepees that stood by the edge of the wood; the evenin' star blinkin' alone;
The peace an' the rest, an' final an' best, the music of Ed's grammyfone.

Then sudden an' clear there rang on my ear a song mighty simple an' old;
Heart-hungry an' high it thrilled to the sky, all about "silver threads in the gold."
'Twas tender to tears, an' it brung back the years, the mem'ries that hallow an' yearn;
'Twas home-love an' joy, 'twas the thought of my boy . . . an' right there I vowed I'd return.
Big Four-finger Jack was right at my back, an' I saw with a kind o' surprise,
He gazed at the lake with a heartful of ache, an' the tears irrigated his eyes.
An' sez he: "Cuss me, pard! but that there hits me hard; I've a
mother does nuthin' but wait.
She's turned eighty-three, an' she's only got me, an' I'm scared it'll soon be too late."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On Fond-du-lac's shore I'm hearin' once more that blessed old grammyfone play.
The summer's all gone, an' I'm still livin' on in the same old haphazardous way.
Oh, I cut out the booze, an' with muscles an' thews I corralled all the coin to go back;
But it wasn't to be: he'd a mother, you see, so I --slipped it to Four-Finger Jack.

From: RHYMES OF A ROLLING STONE by Robert Service, 1912

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekend Steam

Doing a 180 for the return trip, this scene is on the Western Maryland Raliroad in the spring of 1999. Do a search on YouTube and you will find many videos of this tourist attraction.


I am pleased to report that the CD of Carson Robison songs arrived on Friday, and it is a GREAT record! There are 26 tracks of old songs and there is NO needle hiss, NO scratches, and NO pops! They must be reading the master recordings with the new laser technology, because the quality is incredible. You will want this CD if you like old cowboy/country music. It cost only $11.99 plus $2.49 shipping, and was delivered in four days. Here is the link again:,,4169077,00.html

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Tonight's selection is the ever popular Smiles by Lee S Roberts, a familiar name to player piano afficianados. This song was written in 1917, and is a marker for the end of an era. Romantic songs, songs about Mother, minstrel songs, and Great War songs all were part of a genre that mostly disappeared after Smiles. The Jazz Age began in 1920 with the recording Whispering by Paul Whiteman, and recording and performing styles would undergo rapid changes when microphones came into use in the mid-1920's. Note the barbershop type of ending on this made me smile.

Thought Process

I saw this image on a blog from Colorado which is mostly about skiing, mountain biking, and other outdoor recreational activities. Ski areas have always fascinated me when I see them, because I have never heard of any protestors trying to stop one from being constructed, and there are a lot of acres of trees wiped out to make a ski area. A few posts away from this picture, the blogger was telling about Outdoor magazine dropping the use of subscription cards. He was glad because they were going to be SAVING TREES! Another post showed a mountain biker on a trail where at least a foot of soil had eroded away from hiker and biker use. The blogger didn't mention saving soil; he probably is not aware of the recreational impact on the great outdoors. While he is having a micro brew in the lodge tomorrow I will be cutting more firewood. The last time I looked, my trees were getting farther ahead of me. If he drinks light beer, is he saving barley?


That Blue Blob hanging over Southern Illinois isn't snow; It's ice.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hot Tamales!

We were on a western trip several years ago, and as we wandered home, we turned off I-70 at Hwy 9 in Colorado and went over Hoosier Pass. We stopped for a cup of coffee in Fairplay at the Eagle's Nest Restaurant and motored on....until a few miles later in Hartsel we saw the sign for TAMALES. I had to stop or carry a load of regret forever. Boy, were they good! I just Googled Dorothy's Tamales and found that she has moved her business a short distance, but is still going strong. Her tamales are very popular with folks traveling to and from ski areas locally, and she is open from 7A to 7P.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How Cold Is It?

How long will winter go on? How bad is the weather we are having this year? The snow cover map tells only part of the story. Here is a real outdoor weather indicator.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Poets' Corner

Today's selection demonstrates that there really aren't too many new jokes; just old ones recycled. I received this joke a few weeks ago in an e-mail, told as a couple of elderly individuals going through red lights.

mehitabel s parlor story

boss did you
hear about the two drunks
who were riding in
a ford or something
equally comic
and the ford or
whatever it was nearly
went off the
road one of
the drunks poked the
other and said thickly
they always talk thickly in
these stories
anyway he said hey look
out how youre driving
youll have us in
the ditch in a minute if
you dont look out
why said the second
drunk who was drunker
i thought you
were driving i got
that from mehitabel the
cat its the first parlor
story ive ever heard
her tell and ive known
her for five or six
years now


From: the lives and times of archy & mehitabel by don marquis,
doubleday doran & co. inc., garden city, new york, 1933

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weekend Steam

Time marches on. This two page ad from the June 1921 issue of The American Thresherman And Farm Power magazine documents important changes in American agriculture. The left side of the ad proclaims in italics: steel-built galvanized Case Thresher. This was at a time when outdated threshing machines were made mostly of wood. The right side shows us the end game for steam on the farm. Steam traction engines were rapidly losing market share to internal combustion tractors, and improvements in steam power for stationary and locomotive engines would never be used on the farm. According to the Encyclopedia Of American Steam Traction Engines by Jack Norbeck, Crestline Publishing Inc., Case ended steam traction engine production in 1924.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Thursday is Valentine's Day, so here is a nice little song to play for your sweetie. The tenor is John Steel, who performed in the Ziegfeld Follies. This song is from the 1919 Follies, and there is plenty of information on the internet about Mr. Steel and the Follies if you do a search.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Poets' Corner


Once there was a little boy whose name was Robert Reese;
And every Friday afternoon he had to speak a piece.
So many poems thus he learned, that soon he had a store
Of recitations in his head and still kept learning more.

And now this is what happened: He was called upon one week
And totally forgot the piece he was about to speak.
His brain he cudgeled. Not a word remained within his head!
And so he spoke at random, and this is what he said:

"My beautiful, my beautiful, who standest proudly by,
It was the schooner Hesperus-the breaking waves dashed high!
Why is this Forum crowded? What means this stir in Rome?
Under a spreading chestnut tree, there is no place like home!

When freedom from her mountain height cried, 'Twinkle, little star,'
Shoot if you must this old gray head, King Henry of Navarre!
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue castled crag of Drachenfels,
My name is Norval, on the Grampian Hills, ring out, wild bells!

If you're waking, call me early, to be or not to be,
The curfew must not ring tonight! Oh, woodman, spare that tree!
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on! and let who will be clever!
The boy stood on the burning deck, but I go on forever!

His elocution was superb, his voice and gestures fine;
His schoolmates all applauded as he finished the last line.
"I see it doesn't matter," Robert thought, "What words I say,
So long as I declaim with oratorical display."

Carolyn Wells

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Weekend Steam

This week's steam photo is taken from the September-October 1968 Iron Men Album Magazine. Bridges were a common problem for heavy equipment in the good old days, and there were a lot of fatalities in accidents like this one.

I can make an enthusiastic endorsement of Kester's who I mentioned earlier this week. I called them around noon Monday and ordered a model for a relative who turned 5 on Friday. The model arrived in the mail on Thursday, and I can report that we have a very happy 5 year old! The full size engine on the cover is Mr. Kester's portable Russell engine.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Crankin' It Up

I found the Alma Gluck recording of Carry Me Back To Old Virginny, so this week you get to hear two Crank-Ups. This song might make you misty, so have a hanky handy.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Crankin' It Up

With all of the snow north of me, the tornadoes south of me, and the approaching cold front that will keep me indoors this weekend, I put on a search for one of my all time favorite recordings. The great comedian Harry Lauder was loved by all who listened to his records or saw him perform live 90 plus years ago. He is still fun today, and this song is appropriate for the season.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wish List Time

If you despair of ever finding an American made toy for your child, grandchild, neice or nephew, you can rejoice; your search is over! Kester's Old Time Collectibles, PO Box 571, Grant Park, IL 60940; 708 672-6883, is manufacturing first rate cast aluminum farm toys that will bring out the kid in anyone. Dial up Mr. Kester and he will help you select a toy over the phone, or have him send one of his fliers to you with pictures of his wares. If you have the time, Mr. Kester will tell you about his collection of full size steam and gas engines.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Weekend Steam

This weekend's photo is a scan from the November-December 1957 issue of the Iron Men Album Magazine. Ray Ernst has been mentioned here before. He helped found the Midwest Settlers and Threshers Association at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He told me in 1965 that "Kids today couldn't build a fire in a cook stove!" Thanks to Ray and his associates, kids today are still learning those old skills.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Tonight's selection is one of Alma Gluck's acoustic recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Alma began recording for Victor in 1911, and was the first classical artist to have a million seller, with Carry Me Back To Old Virginny. I also have that one in my stack of shellac, and I will share it as soon as I can find it. Sadly, Alma lost her singing voice before better recording methods were invented, so we can only glimpse the greatness of her singing ability. Be sure to look her up on the internet. There are several sites with good articles about Alma and there are even CDs of her recordings out there. Alma was the mother of Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who I remember on the TV show "77 Sunset Strip", a long, long time ago.

Groundhog Eve