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."