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!