Bob Dunn a fireman with a passion for collecting


My friend Annie Jansen and I decided to meet up and play tourist in the city of Taylorville, IL which was not too far from where either of us live.  While checking out the shops on Taylorville’s square that surrounds the Courthouse where kids cruise on the weekends and the downtown where many community activities take place, we stumbled upon Collections of Professions a shop where Bob Dunn, a Captain in the Taylorville Fire Department sells statues, guns and ammos and houses his huge collection of fire fighting toys and memorabilia.

In an interview with Bob for an article for Toy Trucker, I learned that Bob has wanted to be a fireman since he was three years old. Today at 47 Bob said he still loves the job he has had since 1996.  Years before he was a professional fireman, he was a volunteer like his father and grandfather.  Today he owns his store, an ambulance service and is a full time fire fighter with enough time somewhere and somehow to collect very cool fire fighting items.

Anyone that collects trucks will be enamored with Bob’s collection.  He has Nylant, Tonka and a series of other trucks an enthusiast will recognize.  For me, it was the historical items like the hand pulled Watras Fire Hose Cart that really caught my attention.  In the museum there is a salesman sample that includes these red globes that Bob said were once filled with tetra chloride.

“The globes were thrown at the base of the fire,” Bob explained. “They had carbon tetra chloride and would make the fire go out.”

His collection includes helmets and coats, some that were Bob’s as he made his way up the ranks.  He has his first helmet and his last. Bob is also a certified arson investigator and currently is the 3rd highest ranking member of the department.  The items on display he said could not be used for fire fighting today, but they show how fireman dress and work and statues and many plaques and other items reflect the courage it takes to answer the call to serve.

If in Taylorville, Illinois and like Annie and I you are looking for something special to do, stop by!

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Braids of a different spool

The Salem Illinois tractor show featured lawn and garden tractors but there was something at this show I had never seen before, a man, Al Kamminga set up with two braid machines making shoe lace lengths of braid. While this in itself would not be all that amazing, the fact that he is braiding on an1890’s machine was. The machines came from the New England Butt Company a firm in Providence, RI that is still standing and now serves as residential and business space.

Loved the machine and the fact that Al, an engine collector took the time to set up and offer a little education and preservation of machines that had been rescued from the landfill.  Kudos to Al!

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A Little Lawn and Garden Love

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I admit I am usually partial to old, odd machinery and jeepy- looking tractor types, or old steel wheeled beauties, but the25th Annual Antique Power Days Farm Show at Salem Illinois had enough odd ball lawn and garden type tractors that I must say, I was lovin them! 

The names especially are quite catchy and it has been fun researching the history for a story I am writing for Farm World.

Some of my finds were the Pennsylvania Panzer that was colored in what the owner called “Tantalizing Turquoise”. The little Panzer has a German name even though it was built in the state of Maryland. The name was actually from an employee contest. It makes me wonder what the other selections may have been.

The REO lawn and garden tractors were on display and they are named after Ransom Eli Olds of Olds autos and REO Motors fame. The lawn mowers were built by REO Motors and started after the truck sales languished post WWII.

The names of some of the little tractors and the bravo type decals they had on them were interesting like the Tiger tractor with the big tiger picture on the little machine were downright cute.  The Atomic Babe was a little tractor that had nothing to do with the Atom or a girl and the Mule Team Tractor had nothing to do with mules. Who knew?

The Vintage Garden Tractor Club of America’s (VGTCA) Fall Expo was full of fun and an educational experience to boot.

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You may have heard of patio furniture, but how about a patio tractor?


From 1969 to 1971, John Deere manufactured a unique collection of lawn and garden tractors they called the “Patio Series”. Built to lure suburbanites, women and non-farmers, they painted the tractor hood and seats bright colors to attract buyers.  The Patio Models were not painted in the traditional John Deere green but in custom colors. The tractor was painted in base Dogwood White. The seats and hoods were offered in four colors, Patio Red, Sunset Orange, April Yellow and Spruce Blue. The attachments were painted in Dogwood White.

At the Antique Power Club’s 25th Annual Antique Power Days Farm and Toy Show the first weekend in September I spied a neat display of 1/16th scale patio toys made by Ertl.  Owned by John Galaway, a collector from Farmer City, John had his beautiful set on display in the toys show.

The 1/16th scale set was a gift to John while he was working at Hawn & Overton John Dealership in Farmer City.  “They gave it to him while he was working there,” Phebe said.

“I worked there for two and a half years then I went out on my own and ran my own lawn construction business,” John said.  He worked at Hawn & Overton in the 1970’s.

Deere’s hope that the series would sell well didn’t hold but the best sellers were Patio Red and Sunset Orange.  The Patio Series colors were available first for Deere’s model 110, 112, 140 tractors. Later, the 120 tractor was made available with these non-green color options. The only difference between the regular green 110s, 112s, 120s and 140s and the Patio Series was the color scheme.

Outside I also spied a full patio lawn and garden tractor display as well. While I wouldn’t say rare is a correct word for these tractors that were built in Horicon, Wisconsin, they are not easy to find and brought a neat colorful aspect to the Salem show!


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Pearl Harbor’s Arizona Memorial and the Missouri

Today I bought my first few Christmas presents and I also met up with a friend to get a few copies of pictures of her dad and his good friend from when they served together in the Merchant Marines during World War II.  I am finishing up a story for Senior News &Times about our visit to Pearl Harbor and the Missouri last January and the service of the two friends during the War reminded me of the upcoming anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

Along with the presents we buy and the celebrations we experience I think we need to remember Pearl Harbor Day and say thanks to those that sacrificed and served for our freedom. There is nothing quite as sobering as visiting the Arizona Memorial where US war dead still lie in a watery grave beneath the hull and standing on the deck of the Missouri where Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces.

No words can express the feelings that my husband Keith, his brother Craig and wife Debbie and our friend Curt Fishburn all witnessed.  Moving is a catch phrase that doesn’t cover the emotions of both sites.  If you get a chance visit the Pearl Harbor,it is a visit you will always remember




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Portland, a rainy oasis of tractors and stuff!

When we went to the spring swap meet it rained, and when we went to the late summer tractor show it rained. There must be something about the Tri State Gas Engine and Tractor Show that draws moisture out of the skies.  Before we went we went online to check the weather, there was an 80% chance of rain, but we decided to brave it.  The show was held August 20-24th and we arrived the morning of the 22nd after a 3-4 inch rain.

Keith sacrificed his rubber boots for my greater good and I duck walked looking a bit like Bozo the clown into the mire. Rain gear was only needed during the early hours.  After the sun came out and walking for about an hour we got the golf cart out and played mug bog in the rain soaked paths.

Ford was the featured brand at what is touted as the largest tractor show in the nation.  John Bensyl, a Ford collector from Penfield, Illinois was helping out in the Ford tent and said that as of Friday they had over 200 Fords at the show with more still to come.  There were many unusual Fords and Keith and I were fascinated with the crawler versions.

The beauty of this show, weather withstanding is the great variety of things you see.  From golf carts filled with a million people plowing through the mud to a Happy Farmer, Minneapolis Moline UDLX and a Ford Gold Demonstrator, there is something for everyone that likes old iron. 

The show was a break before the combine starts rolling and a chance for one on one time with the hubby before the long hours make conversations hurried “bring me this” and “I need that” those phrases that document the days of harvest.  So, when he said “Let’s go” I was all in before we get too tired and are all out!Log onto for more information.





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Lipe Orchards, five generations of family on the farm


On a recent girls trip to Southern Illinois I found myself in Carbondale at Lipe Orchard where we made a stop to accommodate my husband’s love of Southern Illinois peaches.  The peaches were just part of the produce available at this family business.  I had fun speaking to Rose Lipe who told me that her husband’s grandfather started the business back in the 1800’s.

“My husband’s grandfather started the business in the 1880’s,” Rose said.  “He planted the trees, back then everyone had a home orchard.  People had asparagus, chickens and eggs and more. ”

 Rose explained that orchards would take their produce to a nearby railway station to load it on a train to be shipped to Chicago.  “The train stopped at 4:00 in the afternoon. Farmers would bring in their produce, they even shipped cream.”

We had stopped earlier in Makanda which while today is an artists haven was once a huge train stop where the surrounding towns brought their produce to travel on what they called the “Fruit Express”.

It was interesting seeing how ingrained the love of the farm still is for Rose Lipe who has passed the orchard onto her children.  At the roadside stand that is on Illinois street, her daughter Laura grand daughter Molly and grandson Jared were all working together helping out the group of visitors that wanted fresh fruit from a local source.  3 generations of Lipes were onhand at the stand. Today the family business is in the hands of the 4th generation with working members of the 5th.  Rose says that “helping out” is her therapy.

What a legacy we all would love to have, being surrounded by our family in a business we love.  Kudos to the Lipe family!

For more information about Lipe Orchards, log onto

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The Hot Air Balloon ride, crossed off the bucket list!

When I covered the Lincoln, Illinois Balloon Festival taking place this weekend, August 22-24th, I saw that they were offering hot air balloon rides.  This has been on bucket list for a couple of years, the thought of floating over fields and forest has long been a dream of mine so I didn’t hesitate when I saw openings for the Sunday morning slot.  My dedicated husband that wasn’t too sure about the whole thing accompanied me to the Logan County Airport for the 5:45 a.m. meeting where we met up with our pilot Tony and his crew. 

We traversed the countryside to a park in Elkhart for the launch.  Three other ladies, a grandmother, daughter and grand daughter were all riding celebrating a year anniversary of a very private victory. The three and family and friends began the launch with a toast.  I soon found out they were from neighboring towns and we had a lot of acquaintances in common.

The whole process is like an aerial ballet. The unfurling of the balloon, the filling with air and flames shooting out to the rising as the balloon inflates.  We luckily had the only balloon that had a door so we just had to duck.  Keith shot pictures and followed the balloon while the ladies, Tony and I soared into the wild blue, blue cloudless sky.

Before we knew it we were at 1500 feet and floating.  Balloons were floating all around us, the sky over I-55 was filled with early morning riders.  Fields and farms looked like patch work quilts below.  Anyone that has ever been to Dyersville, Iowa to the National Farm Toy Show and saw some of the farm layouts would have a perspective of our view.  Beautiful and serene the ride was like standing still in the air with scenery moving by.

I loved every minute of the ride.  The landing was a bit bumpy, Tony warned us to hold on and we bounced down into a hay field without too much of a jolt.  Keith and the crew were waiting to pick us up.  Tony and his crew poured us a mimosa toast and we raised our glasses to a dream off a couple of women’s bucket lists and to celebrating life in all of its fragility.

God’s heaven laid at my feet

His glory crowned the sky

His miracles did greet

Us as we headed out to fly

Minutes out of a day

Seconds out of a year

I took the time to weigh

The little blessings that are here.



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Massey Ferguson Service Analyzer comes to LaGrange IN Tractor Show

These 33rd annual Antique Power Steam and Gas Show was held August 7-10 at the 4-H Fairgrounds in LaGrange Indiana and Ferguson equipment was the featured brand.  This year the Ferguson Enthusiasts of North America (FENA) held their National show on the grounds and the show brought around 66 Fergusons to the show with some coming from as far away as Quebec.

Along with tractors, one very cool item also made its way under the Ferguson tent, Richard Kimball’s engine analyzer. “The technician could determine what was wrong.  I found this at the Portland Indiana tractor show.  It is a good show, the biggest I have ever been to.”

Richard Kimball is from West Liberty, Ohio and has been a Ferguson enthusiast for years.  “I started collecting seriously in the early 70’s,” Richard said.  “The first tractor I bought was the Ferguson 40 on the baler I think.”

After that his collection grew as he purchased more Ferguson 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  “I bought several in between if I could find them at a decent price,” Richard said.

“I grew up on in the late 50’s on a Ferguson 30.  My granddad had a 30 so when he quit, we bought it, then we went with the Massey Ferguson dealership until they closed up.”  Picking up implements from auctions in the 1980’s and 90’s rounded out his collection. 

“You get hooked because all these will fit onto the 3-point hitch.  I have about every implement they made,” Richard said.

When asked if he had a favorite, Richard said no, “One is as good as the other and they are all easy to work on. Now days you can’t do anything, I am a shade mechanic.”

The analyzer he had would have determined just what the problem was before the Ferguson would have been fixed and on its way!  For more information about the LaGrange show, log onto



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Portland Antique Tractor Show



At the Portland Indiana Antique tractor show, you never know what you might see!

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