When Harry Burroughs visited the Clyde Museum with his daughters, Patti Saam and Cindy Fox, he didn’t realize he was walking into a repair project.
A few years back Whirlpool Corporation had donated the small International fire tractor used by their fire brigade to put out small fires inside the plant. It was one of two purchased in the mid-1950s. A much later one was donated to the museum and displayed near the Clydesdale antique fire truck.
Gene Smith, museum curator, always hoped someone could get it to run again. Burroughs, a Whirlpool retiree with 40 years of service, had firsthand experience with the tractor and the fire brigade. By the end of his museum visit Burroughs promised to get the tractor repaired. He said he was excited to go to the museum to work on the tractor.
“This is exactly what retirement is about, (volunteerism and productivity),” he said.
Burroughs enlisted the help of a relative, Gary Davenport, Whirlpool retiree and former member of the fire brigade. Together, at a cost of about $250, they got it up and running, checking out all systems and fluids. “There was nothing major wrong with it,” said Davenport, who has a similar tractor himself. “Harry really enjoyed working on it and I enjoyed working with Harry. Gene was tickled we got it running.”
That’s only the beginning of the story. Burroughs dreamed up a fundraiser for the museum and asked Whirlpool to donate a brand new Whirlpool washer and electric dryer for a raffle to benefit the museum.
To gain publicity, plans are to drive the tractor in local parades pulling a trailer filled with three antique washing machines (one a wringer Kenmore made in Clyde) from the museum along with the raffle washer and dryer.
Museum to raffle off new Whirlpool washer and dryer
The tractor will continue to be displayed in the museum while the trailer with washing machines will be stored at Burroughs Marine — Harry’s post-Whirlpool venture for 30 years.
The combined washer and dryer are valued at $1,200. Tickets are $10 each or six for $50 and can be purchased at the museum or by calling 419-547-7946 for more information or sending a direct Facebook message to Clyde Museum and General McPherson House or by contacting Burroughs or Davenport.
Tickets will be sold at the Clyde Fair in September. Burroughs hopes to recruit old timer fire brigade members to help sell raffle tickets. The drawing will be held Nov. 19 at the Clyde Museum during Winesburg Weekend activities. Current Museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Burroughs and Davenport said the tractor was well equipped for firefighting and was also used for training purposes. One tractor was kept in Plant One and another in Plant Three.
“It was definitely used on every fire call,” said Burroughs, who was supervisor of the Engineering Department. “Somebody jumped on it and drove it to the fire.” Often it was Davenport, because it was parked outside the Tool and Die Department where he worked. Any fire they could not handle was automatically quenched by the Clyde Fire Department. The tractor was routinely driven around the aisles to make sure they were cleared in case of fire.
Coincidentally, Burroughs daughter, Patti Saam and her friend, Karen Montgomery Langley, are both trustees at the Clyde Museum. Langley’s late father, C.B. Montgomery, was a captain in the fire brigade. Each shift had a captain and lieutenant. “Lots of fond memories,” said Burroughs.
Jeanette Liebold Ricker writes about Clyde and Green Springs. Contact her at 419-547-8177 or by email at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Two Whirlpool retirees give new life to brigade fire tractor