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Case History

In 1998 I met a wonderful man by the name of Max Bridges. He was suffering terminal cancer, and I was his hospice social worker. During the course of the admission process, I asked him what his hobbies were. He said 'antique farm machinery, but you wouldn't know anything about that, of course...' 'Well,' I replied, 'as close as I can come to antique farm machinery is myself. I'm the great-great grandaughter of JICase' He was completely taken aback, and I was surprised that it mattered, never having met a 'flywheeler' before.In fact, I had to give him a detailed family tree before he believed me. The only thing I knew about JI, other than general stories, was his interest in trotting horses, and the famous Jay-Eye-See. I had some old photos and letters, and a wonderful partial biography of the old man written by his beloved grand-daughter, Lydia Crosby Wallis, my grandmother. So,I shared these with Max and we became friends. He got sicker, and weaker, but was determined to get to the annual Flywheelers get- together in Fort Meade, and asked if I could go. I did not realize that Max wanted to display me like an old threshing machine that he had personally discovered, but I went, and had a great time, being quizzed by a lot of old timers who were convinced I was a ringer. I still can't figure out why someone would pretend to be JI Case's great-great grand-daughter, but I was suspect until I answered all the questions correctly. No one asked me for an autograph, or to go on tour, but one never knows...Anyway. The very best treat of all was Max finagling me a ride on the gigantic traction engine, built, if I remember, in 1894. What an astonishing feeling! The unbelievable power of that wonderful machine gave it an unforgettable almost lifelike personality. I was connected to my illustrious ancestor in a very startling and real way. I literally had tears in my eyes as that connection of his life and work came through that huge machine to me. Max died not long after that event, but the memory of him and that day will be with me in a very special way always.

Kathleen Kidd, FL, entered 2008-04-18
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