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Editors note: Dave Trainer brought in this story, which was written by his uncle, Haldane W. Bean. It is about a father and his three sons who traveled from southern Illinois to Yellowstone driving a 1916 Model T. Dave is the son of Dean Trainer, who started Trainer’s Shell Service Station on the corner of Lower Huntington and Bluffton Roads in 1949. This is the first in a series. 


Many years ago my father bought several acres of land in South Dakota. My goal in life was to become a farmer. I was going to take over the farm in March of 1923. Someone had to break this news to the tenant who was farming the place, and someone had to make some repairs on the barn. After due consideration it was decided that the four of us would drive to South Dakota and spend a couple of weeks making the necessary repairs.

The four travelers included: my father, myself, and my two brothers, Harold and William. We started with a Model T Ford, a black touring car that was built in 1916. If it had a self-starter, we never found it.

Early in August 1922 we built a carrier, or external trunk, on the left side of this six year old Ford, which provided space to carry a tent, cooking utensils, bedding, extra clothing and other articles too numerous to mention. We had just enough room left inside of the car for my two brothers and my dad to sit down. There was no room to stretch out or to move around. In making the final inventory, we thought we had everything but the kitchen sink.

On the first Monday in August we loaded our luggage rack, cranked up the Ford and headed for South Dakota, from southern Illinois. The letter M on an occasional telephone pole signified to us that we were traveling on the Meridian Highway (US 51).

Just outside of Minonk, Illinois we found about two miles of single lane brick pavement. This proved to be the only paved road we had on our trip. According to modern maps, this is just 128 miles from our starting point near Blue Mound, Illinois. We pitched our tent, prepared our evening meal, made our beds and went to sleep. Thus ended our first day.

Thursday’s travel was uneventful. This day Harold and I decided that he should drive in the morning and I would drive in the afternoon. This seemed like a good arrangement, which we followed throughout the rest of the trip. Just as we stopped for the night we noticed that the right front tire was slightly flat. We decided that it needed a bit of repairs, so we proceeded with the job. On looking through our equipment we found no jack. That was probably the only item we had left at home. We found a piece of fencing board, one inch by six and just long enough to fit under the front axle. Two of us lifted the front of the car while my other brother fitted this new jack. We fixed the tire and put it back on the wheel. We did not throw away this new piece of equipment because we thought we might need it again before we got home. In fact, we became fairly proficient with its use.

Wednesday afternoon we were making good time. We were just leaving the town of Marshalltown, Iowa when a good sized dog decided he wanted to be on the other side of the street just about the time we were passing by. I saw him in time so I applied all the braking power we had. In this case you push halfway down on the clutch pedal and all the way down on the reverse pedal. I missed the dog, but I never heard such noise. It seemed as if the whole rear end of the Ford had broken loose. Investigation proved that this was true. My father looked at the problem and merely said, “Well, it might have been better to kill the dog than to tear up the car.” We lost a couple of hours while we got the Model T fixed up to run again.

We continued to follow the Lincoln Highway to Denison, Iowa and then followed the Sioux City cut off to Sioux City, South Dakota. We had no map but we knew that we had to travel west and north. We knew that there would be another town just ahead. Jack rabbits and prairie dogs were abundant in South Dakota. We arrived at the farm sometime Saturday morning, five and a half days after we had left home.

Saturday afternoon we climbed up on the west roof of the barn and started repairs. It didn’t take us long to find out that it was too hot to work, so we climbed down. They didn’t forecast any cooler weather for the next week so we held a conference. It was too hot to repair the roof on the barn. The tenant wanted the farm one more year. I was willing to wait another year before moving to South Dakota. There was no need to hurry and we were not ready to return home so we decided to go further west. The Black Hills became our next goal.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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