A Man And His Library

Raleigh E. Woltmann with his books

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Route #1, Box 264 Avoca, Iowa 51521

Pictured is my complete collection of bound issues of The Iron Men Album magazines and Gas Engine Magazines. The group on the left is the IMA first copy Winter 1946 to now. The same for the group on the right, likewise for the GEM first issue of January-February, 1966, until now. The loose issues represent another hard bound volume.

In the picture I'm re-reading my first copies of the Farm Album Magazine which I received from Elmer Ritzman, editor. Apparently, my name was forwarded by a friend, Loren Badger, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who owned a 6HP Case portable and worked as a parts clerk at the J. I. Case branch house just across the Missouri River from Council Bluffs. Yes, I subscribed immediately, with the back issues too. Elmer said he had to borrow back one season copy to fill this back issue set. Referring back to the picture, the book I am holding contains the first Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall which contained about 16 pages each all for a subscription of $1.00 a year! These four volumes in this book, containing 16 magazines, made a thickness of about 3/8 inch. The next ring bound booklet of volumes 5 & 6 had its name changed to The Iron Men Album. This magazine increased to a thickness of about 1/2 inch resulting from the increase of extra pages etc. with 6 copies per year of 16 to 20 pages each. At $1.50 for a year's subscription it must have been a break-even enterprise for Editor Elmer and Catherine and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Robb (publishers of the Juniata Globe who printed the magazine at that time). They, at the Juniata Globe, Thompson town, Pennsylvania, bound my first two books with the plastic ring method for $3.00 postpaid.

After that, I have had a bookbinding company near here at Atlantic, Iowa, hard-bound my magazines in book form with two to three volumes in each. It was with sadness last week that I learned of the passing of Mr. Albert Hjartshoj, 71, the operator of this book-binding firm. He and his helpers are deaf. Mr. Hjartshoj had earned many accomplishments all of his own with many awards such as: the Hall of Fame of the Midwestern Athletic Association of the Deaf; also the Gold Hand Award of the National Association of the Deaf. Needless to say, their work was perfection. A yearly visit with my work required no instruction, just a smile, few motions, a wave and a nod.

The second publishing adventure Gas Engine Magazine was started in January 1966 by Elmer at the age of 76.

Sure, the GEM group has taken over a little, but the IMA has fathered most of the heritage and farm related shows all over America.

Going back to the beginning for the Farm Album it kind of started with the creative idea of Perry Hayden, a Quaker flour miller of Tecumseh, Michigan, with the idea of tithing of the Biblical wheat story and threshing. (John 12:24). (See page 1, Volume 1, #4 of the Farm Album). Starting with a seeding or cubic inch of wheat seed (about 360 kernels) planted in a plot of about 4 to 8 feet, reseeding and tithing of 90% of the crop in succeeding 2 years got to be more than Hayden could handle. Henry Ford heard about it, came to his rescue, and furnished land and equipment.

On July 22nd, 1944, at Tecumseh, Michigan, a threshing harvest was arranged by Hayden and Ford with equipment out of Henry's museum. Elmer was invited to witness this which possibly motivated him to start the magazine.

This venture was continued until 1946 when the acreage had gotten so big it had to be seeded on several farms around Adrian, Michigan. The final threshing was done from a 9-acre field at Adrian Fairgrounds with most of the threshing equipment from the Henry Ford Museum. It was estimated that if this was continued for 13 good consecutive seedings, it would require all the tillable land from the face of the earth. (I have a suggestion: some of these stories from past issues should be reprinted.)

Scene at 'Dynamic Kernels' Threshing July 1944. Left to right: Henry Ford II, Perry Hayden, Henry Ford and Gov. Harry Kelly of Michigan. Photo reprinted from Fall 1947 Farmers Album.

Back in June 1948, I persuaded my brother-in-law and sister to attend LeRoy Blaker's 4th Reunion at Alverton, Ohio, since it was an afternoon's driving distance from East Lansing, Michigan, where he was attending college. They brought back colored slides and 16mm movies, etc. of the event which included GEM editor Elmer and Catherine, Mr. Blaker, L.K. Wood and others whom I read about and later had the privilege of meeting at the Old Settler's Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Two years later in August, 1950, while making our way to Dan Zehr's show in Pontiac, Illinois, we stopped for awhile at Ray Ernst farm at Wayland, Iowa. He was preparing a Rumely engine that day for the Old Settlers Reunion, to be there for the first show at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Progressing later through the years as these activities increased, likewise the magazine and so did the number of more local shows all over the country. It is unrealistic that the International J. I. Case Heritage Foundation Expo, which organized at Pawnee, Oklahoma, in 1987 was born to jointly celebrate more or less the upcoming 40th Anniversary shows like the respected Association of Rough and Tumble this August, 1988 at Kinzers, Pennsylvania.

Illustration courtesy of Steve Davis, RD 2, Box 842, West Winfield, NY 13491.

For myself, I own a 50-Case #33991, and a friend of mine, Mr. Quentin Shultz of Griswold, Iowa, also has a 50-Case #33992 the only consecutive serial numbers in traction steam we know of in any make or size. (Refer to 1971 March/April issue Volume 25, #4 page 9)

In reminiscing about the early history of steam power and the wheat as well as the starting of the magazine, I'd like to use this means to commend the editors, co-editors, plus all the helpers and everyone responsible for a magazine with many articles written, or submitted by readers, which has kept us inspired, helping us to relive past experiences as well as renew enthusiasm. So for a job well done, I'd like to say 'thanks' to each and everyone for the privilege of me being able to have a complete collection of the Farm Album and Iron Men Album.