Show Me a Quintessential Mid-American Childhood? I’d Take You to a Tractor Show

If someone were to ask me to replicate for them the quintessential experience of my mid-American childhood, we would throw on some t-shirts and cut-offs and watch threshing at an antique tractor show. We’d watch strong arms turn the flywheel of a Rumely OilPull until it fires with a big puff, listen to the song of a steam-powered calliope coming over the ridge, and look into the black night sky as a Baker steam engine throws sawdust sparks as high as the tree-tops. We’d visit with folks sitting in fold up lawn chairs under a camper awning. There would be long-lost cousins, friends we see only once a year, lots of laughs and there would be pie!

That is home–where the people are true and strong and sweet and even a little ornery.

Even before I wrote down my grandfather’s story and published Little Rumely Man, I knew these tractor-collecting folks were a friendly, giving bunch. But time and again since last August when I debuted the book, their kind words have taken me back to the same feeling of belonging I had as a kid riding on hot fenders around a parade ring in the “hole” at the Pioneer Engineers Annual Reunion. With each review, like this one in Engineers and Engines magazine, (Read the pdf in the attached photo.) I get more than a little choked up in my own memories and over the possibility that Little Rumely Man could spark a passion for agricultural and rural life preservation in someone new. Thank you for that, not only from me, but also from “Jack.” There’s no doubt in my mind that he and Grandma would like that.

Leave the world better than you found it!


Engineers and Engines is a antique farm machinery magazine. They published this review of Little Rumely Man in the June/July issue.

Engineers and Engines is a antique farm machinery magazine. They published this review of Little Rumely Man in the June/July issue.

My brand-spanking-new children’s book!!

Order Little Rumely Man Today!

Note: A portion of the proceeds from sales of this book go to agriculture preservation
through donations to Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, Inc., and other organizations like it,
who build on the skills and talents of their members to educate and entertain the public as they preserve the heritage of rural life.

Order via – Click on Little Rumely Man. Pay via PayPal — $13 includes shipping/tax.

Order by email or snail mail at Beth Silcox, PO Box 42, Westfield, IN 46074. Personal checks or money orders for $12 per copy.

Little Rumely Man by Beth Douglass Silcox

   Eight-year-old farm boys like Jack dream big!

   Jack spends summer days sitting on the coal box of Pa’s Advance-Rumely Universal steam engine wishing he was big enough to thresh wheat.

   Soon, pictures in Pa’s tractor book have Jack dreaming of a 16-30 Rumely OilPull belted up to an Ideal separator on Pa’s back 40.

   Before long, Jack comes up with a secret plan to check out a Rumely OilPull. With a little mischief and the help of an unexpected friend, Jack learns a lot about his favorite tractor and becomes a little Rumely man.


Details for educators:

This book is written for children grades 3-6 and depicts rural farm life in 1924. Rumely OilPulls were manufactured in LaPorte, Indiana and could provide teaching opportunities in Indiana history, social studies, history, agriculture and even some lessons in problem-solving. This book includes a glossary of unfamiliar terms, including definitions of agricultural equipment and slang references.


A little more about Jack:

Jack was a real boy, who grew up to be my grandpa. This story is part true and part my own creation. Jack did write a letter to a tractor company when he was a boy, and a salesman came to the family’s Rush County, Indiana, farm. Was that salesman a friendly Rumely man like Mr. Shelton? I can’t say.

What I do know is that Jack Maple was a Rumely man from the day he laid eyes on an OilPull as a boy. In his lifetime, he owned steam engines, plus dozens of other antique tractors and implements, but Rumely held a special place in his heart. I can still see him, dressed in a plaid shirt, suspenders and straw hat, giving a quick wave and grin from the driver’s seat of his favorite Rumely 6.

As a grown-up, Jack collected OilPulls, including a Model H and Model M like the ones in Little Rumely Man. He proudly displayed all of them at the first Rumely Expo, collector’s show, in Rushville, Indiana, in 1993. Grandpa’s face lit up when he asked folks that weekend, “Boy, did ya see them OilPulls?”

Life blessed my grandparents, Jack and Hazel Maple, with cherished friendships thanks to their antique tractor-collecting hobby. I feel very lucky they were my friends for more than 40 years. Thanks to them, our family still comes together every August for the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana’s annual reunion not too far from the farm where Jack grew up.


About the author:

Beth Douglass Silcox is a professional writer with a Bachelors of Science in journalism from Indiana State University. She writes human-interest features and stories about people, businesses, and philanthropic causes for entrepreneurial magazines, companies, and non-profit organizations. Little Rumely Man is her first children’s book and is roughly based on her grandfather’s love of Rumely OilPulls. Beth lives in central Indiana with her family and looks forward to the first weekend in August each year, when she returns to her hometown for the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana’s annual reunion. You can see more of her work at

About the illustrator:

Darcy Peters has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Indiana University. She grew up in west central Indiana, but spent summers surrounded by endless seas of seed corn on her grandparent’s Illinois farm. Darcy is married to an Army Warrant Officer and together they have two daughters.