RANDY E. SCHWERIN, 3040 160th Street, Sumner, Iowa 50674 sends this: 'I'm sure glad to see an increase in the last issue of your fine little magazine. It's #1 in my book. I also think it's a very important part of our hobby. A cornerstone, if you will. It gives us a place to air our activities, projects, needs and concerns. It's also a great place to make new friends.
'Gary Yaeger, from Montana, for example, a regular contributor, is a great friend of high regard. He's also a top-notch steam engineer. I only wish we lived closer together.
'The story sent in by Larry Mix about Harry Wood man see was outstanding. I can claim to be one of the lucky ones also who knew Harry. I even had the good fortune of having him as an overnight guest a time or two, here on the farm when he was still able to travel a little. He was a true pioneer in the hobby and one heck of a character. His experiences with steam in the early days were second to none. It was a privilege to have known him.
'On another note: I've heard that the steam engineering classes at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, are overflowing with new students. This is very encouraging news. A lot of old timers would scoff at these classes. I don't agree. In the first place, this is the only way that these people can get any hands on learning and experience. If you're not lucky enough to know somebody with an engine, it's just about impossible to gain this knowledge.
How many different engines can you find in this picture?
'I guess in trying to put this babble of mine into focus, I'd say to your readers' Get off dead center and write a little story and send it in. We would all like to hear about your projects or whatever. It all helps enhance IMA'. You know, it's quite something to be part of a magazine that is fifty years of age. And if you should happen to see some young person at the show this summer, looking fondly at your engine, invite them up on the platform and give them a 'good taste' of steam. You just never know, maybe you will inflict another person with the great steam bug.
'Keep up the good work on the Iron Men Album.'
NICK KUZ, Hadashville, Manitoba, Canada ROE 0X0, writes: 'My Dear Friends and IMA subscribers. I've been receiving IMA for four years and enjoy reading of these good old time steam engine days. I'm retired now. I've sawed lumber all my life with diesel and now electric, but something that will never fade away in my mind is when I was six years old. My dad told me he would take and show me something I'd like. As soon as the school day was over, Dad took me on the wagon and we drove 2 miles to a sawmill owned by Mr. John Tyrchniewicz of Hadashville, Manitoba. From the moment I saw the boards coming off the sawmill blade driven by a steam engine, I've been so amazed that the interest of steam lived with me all my life. Now I own a little steamer (two cylinder), which I take down to festivals. I'm situated on Trans-Canada Highway in a good location, southeastern Manitoba. I'm always thinking this would be a good place to start a steam festival, but certainly I would need some help to get some steamers. I would really like to find a stationary Frick steamer that would saw lumber. Our country also has good bear and deer hunting. Anybody who wishes to write to me, please do so. Also, I say hello to Mr. John Stutzman of Ontario, Canada.'
'I have enclosed two old post cards for IMA. The recent article to identify all the engine smokestacks was very interesting. We thought you might like a similar picture for the viewers to find the seven engines.' DENNIS RUPERT, 4411 Mechanic Road, Hillsdale, Michigan 49242.
GERRY STANGE, 1715 19th Street, South, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560-4731 says: 'I have been trying to find an old photo of my Uncle Fred Stange and my father Harry moving a huge corn crib and granary in the early '20s, with Uncle's 1917 65 HP Case and Dad's 60 HP Case steam traction engine.
'They devised an evener hitch, which allowed the two engines to pull side by side. They also moved houses, all in the wintertime when the ground was frozen, and wherever possible across the sections of land, instead of by road. This would make a good story, which I plan to submit in the near future.
'Meanwhile, keep the stories of steam era going. I now run engines again at five steam thresher shows in Minnesota and North Dakota.
'I have served as an instructor at the annual steam school held in June at the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher Reunion grounds near Rol-lag, Minnesota. The classes average over 90 students each year! With 12 traction steam engines, two steam trains and four stationary steam engines all operating, the students get lots of hands-on experience working with licensed steam engineers.'
This letter came from PIERRE BOS, 'La Cerisaie' 16, BD Die, F-13012 Marseille, France: 'I am very pleased to send you the photographs and the technical features of steam tractors built in France between 1910 and 1930 to meet the demand of important threshing con tractors, by the following French companies:
'Societe Francaise De Vierzon: S.F.V. established at Vierzon, France.
'Breloux & Co.: established at Nevers, France.
'These documents come from old catalogues edited by the builders, that I've got in my collection.'
Well, friends, so good to hear from all of you this time around! Next month you'll probably be busy as bees at the shows, steam ups, and reunions. Don't forget to take time out and write us a note now and then. And remember, it's not only we here at IMA who like to hear from you; you've got thousands of friends out there, some you've met, others you've never seen before, who also cherish the communication with like-minded souls this column provides.
Speaking of communicating, it seems whenever we get calls from our subscribers, one of the first questions asked is 'What's happening there weather wise?' Here's an update: when we started the column this month, the snow and sleet were flying early March coming in like a lion. Now, as we close, the sun is shining again. Hopefully, that means the lamb is on his way!