Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Conversations with Random People: Three

Same morning I met Bill, couple hundred yards along the way I saw a trailer with three, three! Sandwich engines.  Old guy (how is it so many of the people at these things are old guys?) sitting behind the display in an old webbed aluminum lawn chair.  Fellow looked to be quite physically fit, probably six feet, two hundred.  White hair in marine style crew.  Not bald, but any shorter and all the hair would still be inside the scalp.

I walked around the trailer eyeing the engines. The largest had a flywheel probably 24 inches, rated 2.5 hp, meaning in this case, two and one-half real horsepower.  The smallest was mounted on an old reel-type lawn mower.  I don't recall ever having  seen a pop-and-spin engine on a lawn mower. The third engine was somewhere between these two in size.  Now I was eight feet from the owner, who had been watching my interest with interest.

"What motivated you to collect and restore Sandwich engines?" I queried.

"Collect 'em.  Not so much into restoring them," he said.  Got interested in collecting because I grew up in Sandwich, Illinois."

"Where is Sandwich?"

"About forty miles west of Chicago."

"Wife is from Illinois.  Born in Mt. Vernon, spent several of her childhood years in Chicago before returning to Mt. Vernon."

"Mt. Vernon.  Somewhere in southern Illinois?"

"Yeah," I averred.  "It's on I-57, hour or so south of I-70.  On 64 hour or so west of St. Louis."

We chatted a bit about roads, how one gets from here to there and such like.  Then, eyeing my bicycle, he said, "Antique Scwinn?"

"No," I replied, "a fairly recent old-style look-alike.  It's maybe fifteen years old."

Then he said, "Got my Schwinn in 1946 when I was 12 years old.  I still have it."

"So I guess we are the same age.  I got my first new bike in 1946 when I was twelve years old.  It was stolen when I was a senior in high school, though, so I don't have it anymore."

"Really.  How old are you, then?"


"When was your birthday?"

"Turned seventy-nine in July."

"You got me by a couple of months," he said.  "I'll be seventy-nine in October."

"Hang in there! Nice talking with you."  I mounted my wheel.

"Drop back by.  I'll probably be starting these up a little later."


Shelly said...

It's always such a treat to run into interesting people (of the same age!) in random places. I could just see his hair, the way you described it~

Secondary Roads said...

That single encounter was worth the visit. I'm sure you enjoyed it.

Grace said...

OK, so I had to look up sandwich engines - I thought they might be called that because of the wheels on either side, sandwiching in the engine, but no, they are made by the Sandwich Engine company of Sandwich, Il.

They are also called hit or miss engines. They make a lovely sound...With all this talk of sandwiches I'm hungry; it's lunch time anyway but I shan't be having a sandwich for lunch, I don't care for them.....*wanders off*

Lin said...

It's funny the stuff you learn about folks when you just take the time to talk.

Did you go back to see it running?

Sharkbytes said...

Always fun to chat with people with connections

vanilla said...

Shelly, at my age, I get a certain amount of my fun by sharing memories with other people of an age.

Chuck, it was a fun encounter; and I had two interesting conversations with strangers that day.

Grace, you have done your research well! Though these machines are sometimes called "pop and spin" engines, I usually refer to them as "hit and miss." The old John Deere tractors were powered by such engines.

I know you don't eat sandwiches, but evidently thinking about them causes you hunger pangs!

Lin, unfortunately on that particular day I did not get to go back. I stepped out my door a few days ago, though, and heard an old John Deere running in the neighborhood. Saw it a little later about a block away.

Sharkey, I never cease to be amazed at the variety of interests people have.