For the first time since the original reunion in 1945, the gathering of the organization of the National Threshers Association, Inc.,. was held elsewhere than on the Blaker farm at Alvordton, Ohio. The fair grounds at Montpelier, Ohio, proved to be an ideal location for such an occasion, with ample room for engines, people and meetings, and shady space for trailers.
The program as outlined on the handbills was carried out quite exactly. Invocation was offered by our Chaplain, Rev. E. L. Ritzman, Friday and Saturday mornings, at 10:00 o'clock. We were pleased to have him with us, as he has been since 1945, but shocked and grieved at the recent news of the passing of Catherine, whose presence always added so much to our gatherings. At 12:00 o'clock noon Friday, a steam whistle was blown, followed by the playing of a hymn, with a minute of silence in memory of Mrs. Ritzman and the pioneer manufacturer, A. D. Baker of Swanton, Ohio, who passed away June 16, 1953, at the age of 92.
Highlights of the program were the Prony brake demonstration, the tug-of-war, the demonstration of the Bryan city steam fire engine, and the parade. During the brake demonstrations, only Ohio Standard engines were used, with Louis David's 40 Avery pulling 149 H.P., on the brake, and LeRoy Blaker's new 65 Case developing 127 H.P. Other engines that made good showings were Irel Ash-baugh's Minneapolis; Clare Richmond's and Forrest Williamson's Baker; Ralph Lindsay's Case; L. David's Port Huron; A. Sandy's Baker.
A saw-mill was on the grounds, powered by two different steam engines.
The tug-of-war between the Avery and the Case and later between the Case and Baker, not only broke the cables but occasioned much good-natured ribbing and afforded the crowd some thrilling moments.
Perhaps one of the most unusual sights was the demonstration of the steam fire engine, itself one of the finest engines of the type left in the United States. Two demonstrations were given on Friday and Saturday, with immense crowds on the grounds and in the streets watching the streams of water from the two big hoses, each throwing a stream greater than is possible with modern fire-fighting equipment.
The parade Saturday afternoon around the race track was witnessed by at least 10,000 people, lining the track for its entire circumference and filling the grandstand to over-flowing. Two bands participated, and leading the parade were F. J. Wood and daughter Helen, of Des Moines, Iowa, and Rev. Ritzman of Enola, Pa. The car in which they rode, owned and driven by Mrs. Clare Richmond of Montpelier, wife of the general chairman, Clare Richmond, was followed by the car in which were Chauncey Burkbile, Mrs. Burkbile and daughter. Mr. Burkbile, a brother-in-law of A. D. Baker, was an employee of the company for many years, and helped build old Baker No. 1 which was next in the parade.
Besides the engines, big and little, which made up the parade, was a series of antique cars and a string of five buggies, owned by Paul Myers and pulled by his Case. Two TNT floats were pulled by Forrest Williamson's Baker, with members of TNT carrying pennants and seated on bales of hay on the first float, and the second depicting an old-fashioned threshing day dinner. A real dinner bell on the front of the float called the eight hungry men to dinner; after table grace they fell to, with a fly-switch waved over the table by Joan Williamson keeping the flies off. 'Miss Steam Engine' was Lois Williamson, who was a real queen in that she piloted her father's engine.