| March/April 1983

131 Robin Rd., Blackwell, OK 74631

Jeff Davis at the throttle of Fricke brothers 6 HP Nichols and Shepard at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1981. Jeff is one of my favorite engineers. 'Little Nick' is sure a fine engine. Jeff Davis is Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fricke's grandson.

About fifteen or sixteen years ago at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, my friend, Webster Mooney of Nortonville, Kansas, introduced me to Charlie and Alden Fricke of Mt. Union, Iowa. I had noticed the Fricke Brothers' engines even before this, and that Charlie always had room on the engine he was operating for young people. When you would see Charlie in the parade, there would be some young people riding with him.

I've been in this hobby since before the first shows. We (Lyman Knapp, my Dad and I) were talking and thinking steam and old tractors before we knew that there were other people in this great country that had the same interest. Then, a preacher in Pennsylvania started THE FARM ALBUM as it was first called. His name was Elmer L. Ritzman. The first thing we knew, steam shows were started. At first only a few, but it wasn't long before shows sprang up in several states, such as Blakers in Ohio; Kinzer, Pennsylvania; Mt. Pleasant; Pontiac, Illinois. Along with these shows, names like Charlie Harrison, LeRoy Blaker and Holmer Holp in Ohio, Arthur Young in Pennsylvania, Lyman Knapp in Oklahoma, Harold Ottaway and E. C. 'Big Mac' McMillin of Kansas, Fred Kiser and Milford Feese in Illinois, became well known. It was through this little magazine that we learned of different collectors and of course, got to meet these people at the shows. And it was June 24, 1946 when Rev. Elmer made a little trip to see if there was enough interest to start his little magazine.

Over the years, many of the old steam boys that loved their engines have passed on. So if this hobby is to survive, we must train young engineers and give them a chance to run an engine. I've read many an article in the hobby magazines and in the old American Thresherman where the old timers would say, 'Dad started me firing the old Gaar Scott' or whatever make of engine they had when they were 12 or 14 years old. So let's take time to teach the young people who show interest in our hobby.

Getting back to 'Charlie's Engine Crew,' I've gotten to know Charlie Fricke much better in the last few years. I haven't seen anyone that spends more time with young people. Charlie has a special way with these kids. He always has time to show and teach them. And it's not just all work with Charlie. He lets them have the reward of pulling a steam throttle. And as you know, that is a thrill you will always remember. At the 1981 Mt. Pleasant show, Charlie had his grandson, Jeff Davis, running the 6 HP Nichols and Shepard. Jeff was 12 years old. This wasn't his first year helping Charlie. That year Jeff ran the engine by himself; of course, always under Charlie's watchful eye. Jeff will make a fine engine man. He has a genuine interest in the engine. It's a pleasure to see a young man that is all business and doing such a good job with an engine at this age.