Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lost a Schuttler - Gained a Friend

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know quite a few folks with similar interests in early western vehicles.  Just as we’re often asked about the Wheels That Won The West® story, many others also have intriguing backgrounds to share.  In this first of several brief interviews, we thought we’d highlight a few more folks that regularly work to keep this part of America’s past alive and well.

The first time I met Kathy Christensen of Midwest Buggy (Lockney, Texas), was at an auction in Arkansas.  We were locked in a mini bidding war, vying for the privilege of owning an old, dusty, and paint-less Peter Schuttler wagon.  As the bidding wore on, I wondered, ‘Who is this lady and why doesn’t she stop bidding?’  Ha!  She ended up with the wagon and I’m glad she did.  It gave me a chance to find out just who that Texan was and what she was up to. 
Kathy and I quickly become friends and I never cease to be amazed at the good wagons she finds and brings back to life.  Her commitment to the American Chuck Wagon Association goes far beyond the wagon and cooking competitions as she’s worked tirelessly behind the scenes of the organization for years.  With that as a brief backdrop, we asked Kathy a few questions about her business and vehicle interests below. 

Kathy, can you give us a little insight into the primary focus of your business?
My business is more of a hobby, because I love what I do.  I enjoy restoring wagons and making some into chuck wagons.  It’s a good feeling to see the finished product.

How did you get started?
I started into the business with my interest in buggies.  I started collecting and working on buggies many years ago.  When I moved to Texas, I was introduced to the chuck wagon…I was hooked. 

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment with this hobby/business?
If I’ve accomplished anything, it’s been saving wagons.  I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to introduce youth to wagons and chuck wagon cooking.

What's the most memorable vehicle (or part) that you've found or worked on?
The most memorable vehicle was a Rhodes wagon.  With the help of David Sneed, he identified the make and history of this wagon for me. 

What are some of the projects you currently have in your shop?
I’m currently making a great Newton wagon into a chuck wagon.  I’ve cleaned and colored a New Stoughton wagon which will be the next chuck wagon.  Scheduled, is a chuck wagon to color and detail.  If I get caught up, I hope to return to the restoration of an old sheepherder wagon.  (Editor’s Note:  I’ve seen part of her initial work on this sheep camp wagon and can’t wait to see it finished!)

What's your favorite early vehicle brand and why?
My favorite wagon is a Bain, probably because it was my first chuck wagon and I still own it.  I haven’t competed in chuck wagon cooking competitions for several years with the Bain.  I will be using it in 2014.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
The best part of working on wagons for me has been meeting great people and making wonderful, long lasting friendships.

I’m thankful to Kathy and the others we’re interviewing for sharing part of their story.  Ultimately, these enthusiasts are among a great group of folks continually promoting one of the most historical parts of the American West.  Their commitment to rescuing and sharing history will be felt for generations to come.