Dear Sir: or rather Elmer,
I met you and Mrs Ritzman at Blaker’s Reunion where I had
the best time of my whole life so far.
Please find enclosed a check for my renewal of the IRON MEN
ALBUM. I have every issue and surely don’t want to miss one,
especially as long as they are getting better all the time. It
makes it all the more interesting as I’ve net most of the boys
who have letters, pictures, etc., in the ALBUM. Those old greasy
engines make my heart throb more than a ‘Pin Up’ girls
picture does a sailor.
I started pulling the throttle on steam engines when I was about
4 years old. When I was 9 I pulled the grader for Dad with a 12 hp
Huber. At 10 years I moved my first building with a steamer. The
same old Huber by using a wooden box to stand on. After getting
lots of experience (I thought) Dad let me run one of the engines
when we moved a large, tall grain elevator. After that I was a
regular engineer on a 16 hp Aultman-Taylor. With the all of a plank
across the platform and a box I was about as much of a man as Bad
and his grown engineers.
I got in on a little threshing, silo filling, rock crushing,
etc., but spent most of my 45 years at traction work. We used to do
heavy hoisting with a steamer before we got winch trucks.
I finally figured out why the old steamers were laid aside but
not until I saw the cover picture on the March-April, 1951 issue of
the IRON MEN ALBUM.
You know, most of the steam engineers were dirty, greasy, seedy
looking characters that looked more like something that lived in
Now, I believe if all the old steamers had been furnished with
an engineer like the 1917 Frick on the March-April ’51 cover of
the ALBUM, none of these engines would have gone to junk and the
farmer boys wouldn’t have had so much trouble getting help on
the threshing crews.
My daughter handles a 16 hp Russell real well and I have an
older sister who used to be quite good with an engine.
I left a double Reeves in a farmer’s yard about 2 years ago
and the next morning I went back and fired up to get a good early
start as I had 28 miles to go to get on the moving job. As I was
pulling out the lady of the house and two little girls, about 5 and
7, were looking it over. The little girl cried to ride on it. So
the lady and the little girls got on. I asked the little girl if
she wanted to run it. She said ‘sure.’ I released the pin
(clutch pin). After the two little girls and their mother got
through playing with that Reeves it was just about an hour and a
half later and engine tracks all over the place.
I couldn’t complain, because I knew just how much fun they
We use steam engines pretty often and every time we have one out
somebody comes to look it over.
I thawed the riser pipe on our city water tank the last day of
January, 1951. Twelve below zero, dozens of people bore the
sub-zero weather just to watch that engine. One old time Case
salesman rode 6 blocks with me on my way home, then walked back to
town. He said it was worth it because he hadn’t rode a steamer
or had his hands frozen for over 20 years.
Guess my pressure is going down so will close. Hope to see you
Bruce McCourtney Table Rock, Nebr.
When a man can buy a thing like that and wear a satisfied
expression, as Mr. Yoder does, you have a creative individual. When
you get a creative man you will find ho is not in same hellish
activity. We know many men who spend more on the so called
‘High Life’ than any man spent on steam engines and they
have nothing in the end except a headache and an empty life. The
Hobbyist has his health and something to show for his time. Sent by
V. H. Stroud. 319 E. 16th St., Hitchinson, Kansas.