I grew up the son of a hard working father who was,
for many years, a supervisory machinist and mechanic
with a company which serviced the textile industry here
in the southeastern United States. "King Cotton"
was still the major employer in our part of the
world, and Greenville, South Carolina was its Mecca.
Every 2 years THE major international textile machinery
exhibition, worldwide, was held in the old "Textile
Hall" building here in town. Every textile
machinery manufacturer around the world was there to
display the latest in technology.... and spy on each
One of my fondest memories was the year when I was
about 5 or 6, and my father took me along with him to
see the show. I can recall the thunderous noise levels
each hour, all the exhibitors would power up their
machines for a period of demonstrations.
As a small lad, these huge towering, deafening
machines were quite intimidating as they caused the
whole building to rumble and shake. (it's a very BIG world when
you are 6 years old.)
My father must have noted the anxiety in my eyes, as
I fought to maintain a brave face in front of the one
person in the world I didn't want to see my fear. He
lifted me up onto his shoulders and his noisy world
didn't seem quite so large anymore. He must have carried
me on his shoulders for miles that day as we wandered the floor.
We came upon his employer's exhibit and, low
and behold, there sat a most amazing little machine.
John D. Hollingsworth, on Wheels was the premier repair company
for carding machines (machines that comb out the
before it is turned into thread) and many other
textile machines. There on the table sat a tiny scale
model of a loom, about 16 inches long and maybe 10 inches
tall, weaving a tiny roll of finely woven fabric.
A loom is the machine in a textile mill which weaves
thousands of individual threads into cloth. Mr Hollingsworth was
in attendance that day and, when he saw my interest,
he took time to explain how the little machine worked, in terms
a small boy could digest, and how it was his own very
I've never forgotten the day I got a special peek into
my father's world, nor the kindness of his employer.
I certainly never forgot that wonderfully tiny little
machine as it whirred and rattled along making that
tiny little roll of cloth. This was the beginnings of
my fascination with small machines, one which has never
One year, when the Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog
came, (remember that wondrously magical "Wish
Book"?) there among the toys was a picture of a
small working steam engine. I suspect it was a Jensen from later
information John Foskett of Jensen has shared. I wanted
that little engine very badly, but times were hard for
our family and I instinctively knew better than to ask
for one. As Christmases came and went and that little
steam engine was forgotten.
Life went on, with time in the military, marriage,
divorce, jobs to do, a company to run, another
marriage and a new family. I hadn't thought about
that little steam engine in many years. One day I was browsing
in a junk shop and saw part of one for sale. This portion
of the tale is better shared on the Jensen
25 page. My interest was instantly rekindled and I've been
studying, hunting and buying these marvelous little machines for
A few years ago, our daughter and her husband blessed us with
a new grandson. I could not have custom
ordered a little boy with interests any closer to my
own. We now share the fun of these engines and we enjoy
running them when either of us is stricken by the steam
muse. Someday I hope he will be able to share them with
his sons and grandsons, as he tell them tales of how
his Grandfather was a really strange and eccentric old
codger, but he had some great toys.