July 15, 2024

Long-time I&I treasurer retires

Q&A: Gene Schmidt

GIFFORD, Ill. — Gene Schmidt will get to enjoy this year’s Historic Farm Days without having to keep tabs on the books.

Schmidt, of Gifford, stepped down late last year from his role at I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club treasurer after 23 years of service. Alecia Whitcomb has assumed the treasurer’s post.

He took time to reflect on his role and the I&I organization.

How did you get involved in the I&I?

Schmidt: I knew a lot of the guys in the club, and when I retired from Gifford State Bank I guess they thought I needed a job. One of the guys called me and I thought that would be a nice thing to do for a couple of years, and 23 years later, I was still treasurer.

What were some of the changes you witnessed in the club over the years?

Schmidt: They started out in 1987 at the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve north of Penfield. As far as the grounds here, they’ve added so much to it, buildings, one-room schoolhouse, the church — it’s just really grown to make the grounds really nice.

That board is a group that if something needs to be done, they get it done. The members really get in there and pitch in when something needs to be done.

Of course, everything is in really good condition, so it doesn’t required all the work it did several years ago to get a show going. Some of them have been doing the same job for several years, so I think they just really enjoy it.

I really enjoyed working with the men and women of the group. They’re a great group to work with.

What is the importance of having this organization that focuses on preserving past farming practices to pass the history along to another generation?

Schmidt: With all of this new equipment and fewer farmers, a lot of the younger people don’t realize what some of the farmers went through years ago. So, it’s just good for them to kind of know what they’ve been through.

I think some are really interested, some aren’t, but I think it’s just important they know what these farmers went through, how they farmed, and not only farmed but they had dairy cattle and all that other stuff. They worked hard.

Do you collect any classic cars or tractors?

Schmidt: I’ve had several cars, but I’m down to three right now. I have a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air with 62,000 miles on it. It’s all pretty much original. I have a 1962 Corvair which I’ve had for years. It was my second car back in the 1970s. It only has 60,000-some miles on it. I recently over the last few years got a 2002 Thunderbird. I started out with a Ford Model A 40 years ago and I’ve had a few cars since.

I do have a 1948 Allis-Chalmers G which my dad bought new. I acquired that after he died. In fact, I’m going to pass it on to my brother in a few days. I can’t keep up with that stuff anymore.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor