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Beachcomber
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Beachcombing

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 14
1/1/1900




One would think that the grandson of the man that invented the modern-day lawn mower would be a multi-millionaire, living in the lap of luxury. Not so, even though this very same grandfather held several U.S. manufacturing patents that exist today, including US1156520A, for the mower.

Only recently did I learn that Samuel E. Beeler, Sr., as head of the light line designing department of Frick Company in Waynesboro, Penna., designed and built a gasoline lawn mower that propels itself, does the cutting, is remarkably simple and could be operated by an 11-year-old boy. That boy was my father, who demonstrated the device before a committee of prominent local manufacturing and business men at my father’s home east of town in 1914.

My cousin Ed Harne in Maryland, who is retired from the US Bureau of Land Management, discovered this information from “Once Upon Our Times,” a feature in the Waynesboro Record Herald newspaper that compiles news reports from 100 years ago, written by the Rev. Lee E. Daywalt. You can see the item at http://www.therecordherald.com/article/20140625/NEWS/140629910/?Start=1. Ed sent me an email asking if S.E. Beeler’s son in the article could have been my father. You bet your suspenders it was.

Coincidentally I have a photo of that historical event, showing Samuel E. “Bud” Beeler, Jr. at the controls of the lawn mower with his older sister and my aunt Helen, observing from the front porch of their home. Now I know the story behind that photo and an inventor-grandfather that I never remember, since he died in 1946 when I was still a toddler. My paternal grandmother, Emorene McNoldy Beeler, died of breast cancer in 1936.

I do remember their house, which was very large on a big parcel of land just outside the town’s border that was in need of a power lawn mower to keep things trimmed. Possibly around the time it went up for sale, circa 1950, I recall getting a peek inside and being impressed by a large grandfather clock on a stairway landing.

My mother’s parents had one of those grandfather clocks as well and lived in a less ostentatious home near the center of the rural manufacturing town with approximately 10,000 inhabitants, which is close to national icons like Gettysburg and Camp David. I was fortunate to have known and frequently visited with Cyrus and Ada Stouffer for many years before they passed on.

In the pre-depression years they had a farm in nearby Smithsburg, Md. and raised seven children, with my mother, Rieman, being the eldest. This clearly demonstrates how television helped to cut down on large families after the mid-20th century.

Grandma Stouffer – who worked as a seamstress in her senior years – was one of the nicest persons I have known. The fact that she would give me nickels to get an ice cream cone at the dairy store one block away has absolutely nothing to do with that statement.

Some of my early jobs in the teen years were setting pins at the local bowling alley, delivering the weekly TV Guide, being a farmhand, shoveling snow in the winter months and mowing grass in the summer. A Stouffer relation operated a lawn mower shop and would send me off on a riding mower to cut the grass at some local residences with large yards.

One time I tried to clean a cluster of grass near a drive wheel and soon learned a lesson about getting your fingers near the cutting blade. The tip of the right hand ring finger is one of the many “education scars” incurred over my lifetime and I now know that I have a paternal grandfather to thank – in part – for that.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Mimi McBride Bloeser, 61, last Tuesday. She was married to Jerry Bloeser – co-owner of the Fish Tale Restaurant and John Bloeser Carpet One – and mother to Mark, Stacey and Ryan. Funeral services today and tomorrow are being handled by the Luyben Family Dilday-Mottell Mortuary.

Mimi contributed some articles on parenting in the early days of the Beachcomber, from 2001 to 2002. In recent years she provided an outstanding service to grieving children who lost a loved one and now her extensive family and friends are grieving over the loss of Mimi. She will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Knights of Columbus (kofc.org).

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