This March, my Dad, Jack Stevenson - one of the founders of the Kansas City Two-Cylinder Club - will be leaving Missouri and moving east to live near me. The Two-Cylinder club was such a big part of Dad’s life in the last 20 years. Below are some facts and vignettes about his years in the club as told to me by my Dad and Bill Eagleburger.
In 1989, Jack Stevenson wrote to John Deere and asked if there was a Two-Cylinder club in Kansas City. What he got in return was a list of 6-8 names of folks who had contacted John Deere with a similar question. This was all Jack needed. He contacted several of the guys – including Ken Buell – and in January 1990 they put an ad in the Kansas City Star inviting anyone interested in a John Deere Two-Cylinder club to meet them at the Ag Hall in KC. They were thrilled when more than 20 folks showed up.
But Jack almost didn’t make it! On the way to the meeting, Jack’s car overheated and he was stranded. He managed to get in touch with Ken who asked for a volunteer to help. Bill Eagleburger said he’d drive out to meet Jack and bring him to the meeting.
Bill had never met Jack, but said it was not hard to know who he was. Besides the smoke coming out of the hood of the car, Jack “looked like a tractor guy.” Bill and Jack got back to the meeting where a good group had turned out. Not bad for the first gathering. During the meeting, Jack volunteered to get things started with all the steps necessary to get a club going. After the meeting, Bill drove Jack back to his car. Bill said “Jack used some tape and a clamp or two to fix the leak and then drove back two hours to Cole Camp. I could tell he was an engineer!”
Jack was the club’s first President and served for two years. The club was active from the very start. In the first year they were in the American Royal Parade in Kansas City – with nearly a dozen tractors participating. As Jack said, “The crowd was always waiting for our tractors to show up in the parade!” This tradition continues today. The club also held Tractor pulls and Jack was the announcer at many of these. Jack always kept the crowd entertained - not only with his knowledge, but also with his great sense of great humor. And Jack had a blast, too!
Do you know why the Club’s banner has a Model H on it? Well, when it came time to get a banner made for the club, Bill Eagleburger jumped in to do that task. In honor of Jack as the first President, Bill used a Model H – which was Jack’s first two-cylinder tractor – to be the tractor in the banner. And that banner is still in use today!
Jack continued as an active member in the club - never missing a meeting until his wife Jessie got sick. Sometimes meetings would be held at his farm – and the kids would play basketball in the barn loft while the guys had the meeting. Jack was always willing to learn new things and how to do things better and better in restoring his tractors. He used his granary as a sandblasting booth and created a ventilated paint booth in one of his barns. He became very good at sandblasting and then painting the tractors as he restored them. (Some might have even called him a perfectionist!)
Known for his desire to keep things looking brand new brought him lots of fun jibing, too. Jack and Barry Porter were taking Jack’s new trailer – which Jack had made specially to his specs - to pick up a tractor in Illinois. Before loading the tractor on the new trailer, Barry dropped a handful of chains onto the trailer bed, chipping a little paint and saying, “There, Jack. Now we can use this thing!” Jack howled with laughter.
Since 1990, Jack has restored four two-cylinder tractors – an A, B, H and a 730. He has also restored a John Deere 3010 and an Allis Chalmers G. And he has acquired many John Deere collectibles as well… toy tractors, plates, etc. An auctioneer coming to see Jack’s things said , “This is like a museum!”
Before Jack leaves for the East, he is auctioning everything at his farm in Cole Camp. If you are interested in coming out – to see what’s for sale or just to visit with old friends - the auction will be on Saturday, March 22nd at 10am (checkout http://www.auctionzip.com/Listings/2049384.html for details and sale bill.). Although Jack will miss his tractors, he knows that they will go to someone that will treasure them as much he has.
If you ask Jack why he was interested in starting the club, he’ll tell you, “ I always have liked Poppin Johnnies. And the guys in the club were a great group. We had the best time. And we called ourselves “The Originals”… the guys that started the club over 20 years ago. I’ll miss those times.”
- Jan Newman
PS: After March, Jack can be reached at 9 Hunt Manor Court, Baldwin, MD 21013.