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
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
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
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.