I didn’t know my husband’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg when he was young of course, but I have had the opportunity to get to know him over the past few years, and I feel very privileged to know him. He is a kind and loving man, who loves his family very much. I think that when it comes to his grandchildren, he is probably a big teddy bear, and I think they all know it. Of course, he would never admit it, but his family knows.
As a young boy though, the youngest of his dad’s children, I think he must have been quite a kid. I don’t know if growing up as the sheriff’s son would have made him think he could get away with more than most people, but I think he might have had a side of him that might consider trying it to see how things went. Of course, not as a little boy. From what I’ve seen in the pictures he let me copy, he was a little boy who maybe liked his wheels. I found a picture of him on his tricycle, and later a picture of him with a car. The boy going from one set of wheels to another. It looked like a pretty nice car to me. I imagine he was well liked in high school…and I can see why people liked him, because he is a very likable guy.
Not much has changed with Butch, at least not in his personality. He is still the kind of guy you want to be around. He always has nice things to say about people, and he always makes you feel welcome. Anyone who knows him feels blessed to know him. I haven’t known him well for my whole time in this family, but I consider him to be one of my very favorite people. And today is Butch’s birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
With the invention of the automobile, came the need to make improvements on things like speed, reliability, and looks. Most of the improvements that were made seemed to make sense and improved the automobile, but its been said that, “The line between visionary or eccentric, between progressive thinking, and outright insanity is often quite thin.” During the years when the American automobile industry was rapidly forming, the “unbridled manifestations of a creative imagination” blurred that line on thousands of occasions.
One such “blurring” involved the number of wheels on a automobile. Oddly, that is something that is still under debate today, with the dually pickup. I guess I can see how four wheels on the rear of a vehicle, set side by side, might give more traction, but some of the extra wheels designs of the vehicles in the past, simply made no sense to me. One of the more eccentric of those designs was the eight-wheeled Octoauto. It sported an astounding 180-inch wheelbase. Another example was the six-wheeled Sextoauto, devised by Milton O. Reeves. At the very least, these cars were goofy looking, and the designs seemed to have no exact reason or purpose for the placement of the wheels.
Another example, of the visionary side of the inventive line would be the optional swing away, electrically heated steering wheel available on the 1917 McFarlan. I guess I can see the value in that, especially on a cold winter day. There is nothing worse than toughing a freezing cold steering wheel, except maybe a burning hot one. Benjamin Briscoe of the Jackson, Michigan, based at Briscoe Motor Corporation, straddled the line quite nicely when he built the 1914 models. The 1914 models sported a single Cyclops headlight mounted dead center in the upper radiator shell and laminated paper-mâché body panels…that’s right, I said paper-mâché. The 1916 models sold with four cylinder engines and a promotion proclaiming, “Buy the Four. Use it a month. If then you decide you want the Eight, simply pay the difference and a small installation fee.” Sometimes, what appears to be eccentric today was innovative technology during the first decades of the industry. Promoted as, “The Friction Drive Car” was the 1907 Lambert, a vehicle that served to pioneer the type of transmission capitalized on with the patented developments of Byron Carter.
Between the creation of the first experimental models by William Lambert in 1891 and the companies’ closing in 1917, a wide array of “interesting” vehicles rolled from the companies manufacturing facilities in Anderson, Indiana. They had engines mounted in the rear, the front, or middle, and came in two-cylinder and four-cylinder configuration, providing power to one or two wheels, dependent on if it were a three-wheel or four-wheel model. I’m sure that along the way there were a number of other interesting and even strange ideas concerning the automobile, but I guess that’s progress, and some of them weren’t progress at all, but a step backward.
From the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, Barry loved all things wheel related…from wagons to trucks, and especially tractors. Of course, when he was little he wasn’t allowed to do much serious driving, so he had to settle for a wagon or an old tractor that didn’t run. He was a serious macho man. He even wanted to forgo the entire school experience to stay home and work on trucks with his grandpa.
As he grew, and found out that refusal to attend school was not an option, he discovered that school had a few redeeming aspects after all…the girls. Like all little boys, this discovery made going to school bearable. He also found a new use for his wheels…and his first chick magnet was born. That was about 1987, and not much has changed as far as Barry’s love for most types of wheeled vehicles. These days, however, his chick magnet is reserved for the one chick that has the key to his heart…his wife Kelli.
Of course, Kelli probably wouldn’t go very far with him in the 1987 version of the chick magnet, so Barry has had to upgrade to a newer version…the pickup truck. Every girl would agree that while his wagon was very cute, it just doesn’t work well for going out on the town. And, lets face it, having your boyfriend pull you around in a wagon, would be a little bit embarrassing for a person in their twenties. That sort of thing tends to make you look a little juvenile. Girls don’t really like that.
Barry has not outgrown his love for wheels of any type though. His riding lawn mower has replaced the broken down tractor, and the four wheeler ha replaced the little wagon. It is long gone too, except for the memories in pictures. Still, Barry hasn’t changed all that much really. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little boy doesn’t still live somewhere inside the man he has become. I’ll bet that when he looks a a little wagon in pictures or at the store, he remembers the good old days when the wagon was all the wheels he needed.
A couple of weeks ago, my brother-in-law, Ron gave his dad, my father-in-law a calendar from 2012 that he had used at work…not for the calendar but for the pictures. They were all pictures of tractors through the years. We all took a look at that calendar, because it was interesting to see how much tractors had changed over the years, and the different makes for that matter. I remember seeing one that could have easily passed for a travel trailer, were it not for the tractor wheels. And there were makes that even my father-in-law hadn’t heard of, and having grown up on ranches, I would have expected that he would know them all.
Since the Industrial Revolution, which occurred from 1760 to somewhere between 1820 and 1840, when manufacturing transitioned from hand production to machines, technology never stops changing. There are always new ideas, and someone to invent them. I recalled seeing a couple of pictures among the old pictures I have been going through, that showed a couple of different tractors used by members of Bob’s and my families. Even though these pictures probably weren’t taken that far apart in years, the two tractors are very different from one another. I suppose that the tractors themselves could have been much different in age, since you often use a machine for many years before it wears out, and they could have been for different work, thereby requiring different designs, but I was struck, nevertheless, by the vast difference in their design. My father-in-law also told me that it could depend on the area of the country, as to what makes of tractor were available. That makes sense too, in that different climates, and growing seasons might require different types of wheels and designs. I suppose that humidity could play a part in how the engines ran as well, and so could affect what tractor make would work better in those areas.
Technology is changing so fast these days that tractors may one day be obsolete, you never know. I mean…who ever thought there would be a vacuum cleaner that cleaned by itself, and yet now we have them. I don’t mean to say that crops will ever harvest themselves, or that the ground will just stay plowed, but one day there might be a machine that does those jobs with just a little bit of programing. Then, like the Roomba, which is no longer called a vacuum, the tractor might change its name with the modern advancement of automation too.
I love the way that kids can be so inventive. They have some great ideas, and while they can’t always make their ideas into reality by themselves, with a little help, you will find that they will get it done. No one really knows who created the skate board, but it was designed by attaching wheels from a pair of skates to create a surfing effect. That way they could surf, even if the ocean waves weren’t cooperating. A good idea if you ask me.
Then there were the go carts. Made from things in the garage, they were usually wooden and used the wheels off of a tricycle or some such item. Of course, I would expect that the brakes took a little more figuring. I’m sure those first go carts ended in crashes more than they didn’t, and eventually someone found a way to make them stop. If they hadn’t, I think they would have stopped riding them after a while, since there is only so much crashing a person can take before they decide that this just isn’t worth the ride.
What I find very interesting, is the types of things the kids back in my parents’ day did when they wanted to create a new mode of transportation. It would appear to me that they were trying to make a sleigh, and they had no wheels…or snow, for that matter. I would imagine that it was a bumpy ride to say the least, but them these boys don’t seem to mind that thought much. I’m quite sure they were very proud of their new contraption. It also makes me think of the many kids these days, who have done their very best to hook their dog up to a wagon and have the dog pull them around. While that might work ok with a dog, I’m not so sure I would want to try it with a horse, but then, I don’t know that particular horse, and they surely did. It is quite possible that the horse knew the typical antics these boys pulled, and like any pet, who loves it’s master, the horse was gentle enough to go along with the new fangled vehicle that was hooked up to it.