3516 Williams Court Avon, Ohio 44011
Thirty years ago I started to go to steam shows. Unfortunately, I was born too late to have grown up in their era. Over the years, I have met very many wonderful folks. Some of them have become best friends. Over the years, too many of these friends have passed to the Big Steam Show. I'd like to name them, but it would take two issues. George Hedtke, when he started, put up a Golden Roll board with just one name. Now, as Dawn Summers told me, the board is almost full. Every year at shows we ask, 'How is so and so?' 'Well, he passed on,' is heard all too often. Sometimes, not even a line in the IMA, or at best, a short note is seen. The IMA used to have Iron Man of the Month. This was very nice. But I'm proposing a one time only 'Iron Man of the Century.'
Yes, if you would, a dedication to the best friend, the best man, the best steam engine man, the most mechanically knowledgeable person any of us have ever met. This incredible person, if you couldn't guess, is the one and only Mr. Harry Wood man see, better known as 'Pinky,' from Dowling, Michigan.
I, as many of you, can't remember when, where, or how I met him. But in any case, he surely has changed a lot of people's lives. I hope I can speak for all that know him when I say he never ceases to amaze me. I probably could write volumes of the crazy and good times we've had, and some of you readers were probably involved in them too. If you are not sitting there right now reminiscing some of your favorite experiences with him, it would amaze me.
One in particular was amazing. We were somewhere watching a really good engine man belt a separator. After 35 or 40 minutes they had a belt on; you guessed it, a double cross! But there were two old-timers close to us who were discussing a guy in Michigan belting up blindfolded. Harry turned to me, gave me that little wink of his and grinned, his stinky pipe wiggling all the time. One of these fellows said,' 'Why that's just impossible, it can't be done!' Another wink, more smiles, and he relit the pipe. They never knew who was behind them.
Dennis Jerome and I were at Skinners Steam Show in Perrysville, Indiana when Dink said, 'I don't know about the rest of you, but Larry and I had the privilege of learning from the very best, Harry.' Now if that isn't a great compliment I've never heard one. Also, I'm glad supervision is one of his better capacities. People from all over the U.S. have written or asked him how to fix up an ailing engine. Maybe some were even lucky enough to have him come help. But, the thing is, he's so stinking lazy, you'd better have a little whiskey and a rocking chair around. And then if you listen close enough and do what he tells you, you'll end up with a top notch machine, and an old drunk! (You had that coming, old man!) But, 'You'll never,' I quote from an old American, 'see the old man drunk.' Even at that he is a literal encyclopedia of worthwhile information, on just about every subject a person can think of. Motorcycle racing with Barney Old field, now I thought that was a good story. Then I saw proving pictures. When traveling the country, meeting folks, running engines, drinking vast amounts of alcohol, he has just about done it all. I truly believe he is the E.F. Hutton of the 'tired iron community.' When Harry speaks everyone listens. Well, old man, when you read this I hope your hat size doesn't get too large because we all love ya!
Lovingly submitted by: Larry Mitchell, Judy Gilman, Jack Mazlo, Dennis and Angie Jerome, Judy Schnakenberg, John Schrock, Melvin Lugden, Debbie and Lloyd Simmons, John Big Foot Nagley, The Lugdens, Floyd Schultes, Lawrence Huffman, and the Lewises.
Harry, I got the list of people who wanted to sign this, but I lost it. Anyway, everybody's love is with you.