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Old tractors tug at their memories

April 10, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

LEETOWN, W.Va. - A group of people wanting to preserve history and have fun, complete with an operating 1902 steam engine and a man named Grumpy, gathered at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

More than 200 people attended the Spring Antique Tractor and Engine Jubilee put on by the Potomac & Shenandoah Antique Tractor & Engine Club Inc. It is the second year of the event. Last year, less than 100 people attended.

"What we are about is keeping farm equipment going, keeping it all alive so people can see it," said the club's treasurer, Karen Staubs of Middleway, W.Va.

"It is a living record of the past, as far as farming is concerned," said Grover Wilson, 65, Kearneysville, W.Va.

Wilson grew up on a farm and years later realized he missed playing with tractors, he said. So around 1969 he bought a neighbor's 1945 John Deere engine, which he brought home in boxes, he said. He had played with the exact same tractor engine when he was a child, he said.

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"It took one year to build and it wasn't the best job, but I enjoyed it," he said.

One of the exhibitors was Grumpy Scrimshaw, 43, of Annapolis.

He brought to the event the 1902 steam engine, a 1924 pump engine and a 1935 generator engine. He attends about 20 to 30 such shows a year.

Since he is "happily divorced," he said, "this is my first love now."

About 14 years ago, his boss noticed that he was depressed and took him to a show where antique engines were on display, he said. He has been in love with the hobby ever since, he said.

Scrimshaw said he had his name legally changed to a nickname his children gave him, even though he no longer considers himself grumpy.

Other exhibitors also said they shared Scrimshaw's passion and echoed the reasons he gave for it: the great people who attend the events and the preservation of history.

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