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Steam Festival

Steam Festival - Part Four

Everyone asked after Amy's dad. Everyone knew he was in the nursing home and each wanted to know when "Johnny" would be back. This place is changing. There are too few old ladies in training to keep this delicate social fabric together. We dined today at Caroline's smorgasbord, the only restaurant in town. Broasted chicken, ham, meatballs in a creamy sauce ,and twelve different salads, two-thirds of which are cool-whip based. At $4.75 a head, the place is packed and we took Johnny and sat astounded at his depth of community. Everyone who passed by the table stopped to engage him and he was as warmed and energized by this as anyone could ever be. I commented to him after we left, as we were waiting to be admitted to drive around the threshing bee park ("Johnny can't walk? Of course he can't. Just drive your car around there, then.") "So," I said, "Looks like you've got pretty good credit here." "Oh yea," he sighed, " a fella's got to. This is what keeps me goin'," he continued, "If I didn't have these folks out here, willing to take care of me, I wouldn't have any hope of gettin' out of the nursing home." Slip over here for more ...

Steam Festival - Part Three

Eventually, the band disbanded, finishing with a rousing Goodnight, Irene. One of Kevin's men came into Marske's to report that the coal was getting low and that the Steam Roller should be leaving for the park. Everyone fortified themselves with a beverage to go and we all exited to the trolleys, arrayed behind the steam machine. Whistles and chugging brought the antique into motion and we rumbled through deserted streets, stopping where some who was not present lived to hoot the steam whistle and loudly chide the resident to come out and have some fun. We, on the trolleys, became fast friends, more than one engaging in "That Kevin" quality conversations. He was clearly revered, loved, and sometimes feared for his legendary temper. Still, many agreed, he is a great man to work for. Slip over here for more ...

Steam Festival - Part Two

We will have a long night tonight, the first night of the 25th anniversary James Valley Threshing Bee. Steam engines are being readied as we later stroll through the park where the enormous machinery of a century ago smokes in quiet preparation. The place is ghosts parked in long lines. A dozen or two ancient tractors, some with names not remembered by anyone now living. Strange machines that look like the iron ancestors of modern monster trucks idly smoke. The park is deserted except for a few kids tending boilers. We leave and head for Marske's (pronounced "Mars Keys") Lounge. The streets of Andover have rarely been so crowded. We must pass three or four other couples in the four blocks we walk to Main street. The last couple warns us that we'd better hurry, Marske's almost out of beer. We had no need to fear. Slip over here for more ...

Steam Festival - Part One

We are in South Dakota this morning (Sunday.) Sunny from two perspectives. On Friday we met in the Twin Cities with a prospective client who seems to have nearly perfect affinity with us: with our focus, our philosophy, and our principles. This left us feeling completely hopeful and optimistic for the drive West on Friday afternoon. Slip over here for more ...

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