Iron Man of The Month

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Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390. MARITAL BLISS IN THE CAB OF A STEAM ENGINE- Iron Man Roy Tribbey and his telephone girl wife, Margarett, exhibit conjugal harmony at western Ohio reunions in such manner as to make divorce courts obso
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Courtesy of Edward Rysz, Cicero, Illinois and sent in by W .J. Place of 1602 Weller Ave., La Porte, Indiana 46350. Train No. 2 at the La Porte County Historical Steam Society Show. The locomotive is a 3 foot gauge H. K. Porter, 2-6-0. It was built in 1901

of DAYTON DAILY NEWS AND Radio’s ‘joes


Should any soul be ever so jaded as to conceive the notion that
horsin’ around with Iron Horses is strictly for the menfolk and
the birds – and never the women – a casual sortie of the reunion
grounds at the Darke County Steam Threshers might well dispel such
delusion. For here indeed the pleated skirt and feminine hand waxes
yet its fiercest competition to the oily, smoke besmirched bib and
iron fist at yanking throttles, quadrants and whistle cords, world
without end — Amen.

There’s Mildred Ary who, year after year, has been thrilling
the throngs by coaxing the ancient Ary Gaar-Scott into just the
right notch that sends it lunging forward then backward on the
Darke County Threshers’ tottering teeter till it comes to rest
on just the right sopt to balance the teeter-totter – all while
hubby Harold, who never could balance an engine, swallows his cud
in masculine obeisance. All of which, once the smoke screen abates
from the engine stack, reveals but one more step toward woman’s
eventual Dominion over earth and all its creatures, including

Too, there are the perennial man-and-wife Wrights — the
well-known Frank and Erna Baker-ites who daily promenade the
reunion grounds draped, one aloft the coal bunder, t’ other
astride the water tank. With them it’s a mutual obligation
keeping Ol’ Abner in reciprocation.

And not to be overlooked in our documentary on womenfolk versus
men when it comes to cutting capers on a steam engine (heretofore a
man’s world) we have the comely wife of ex-President of the
Darke County Threshers, Thelma Ditmer, who dutifully succumbs to
being tied onto the huge drive wheel of the family’s 23-90
Baker for a ‘revolutionary’ ride with hubby at the
throttle. For Sylvester, keeping the wife tied down and at his
mercy is at best but short-lived and sham. For Thelma, revolving
’round on that engine wheel is but one more revolution in the
evolution of woman’s rise to dominance and power.

And in the realm of tales yet untold of woman reaching for power
in a man’s world, there lies yet another story of a lovely lady
who, though not quite the master of the family engine her hubby is,
seems to be vying for equality that someday may usurp his supreme
authority on the swaying engine deck.

‘Oh yes, I like to run our Case Engine very much, ‘
smiles Mrs. Tribbey, ‘But I prefer to have Roy with me in the
cab when I am doing so.’

For Margaret Tribbey, operator at the Xenia, Ohio, exchange of
the Ohio Bell Telephone Company for thirty-five years, reaching for
the throttle of the mighty 50-horse Tribbey Case Engine is not yet
the act of complete feminine dominance over her Iron Man husband as
might appear with other women riding the cabs with their respective
engine spouses over the Darke County reunion grounds. For her the
mere act of riding engine cab with Iron Man Roy has not yet hatched
into such devious and womanly devices calling for a complete
takeover of man’s world of hammers, wrenches and crow-bars when
it comes to man-handling the Iron Horse. For Margaret Tribbey, it
sufficeth to merely occupy one side of the man’s throne at the
rear of an engine, possibly to jostle the throttle and quadrant now
and then, but primarily to lend feminine grace and pulchritude — a
much desired refinement — to the more ferocious and swashbuckling
attack so often exhibited by a man running an engine. Could Lord
Tennyson have envisioned a woman such as Margaret Tribbey running a
steam-belching engine, he no doubt could have quilled it in rhyme
more delicately than I have hereby striven to document it. But
suffice it to say that delicacy, and what little yet remaineth in
some women to allow men to think they are still functional and not
completely replaced, is a refinement still to be desired if
old-fashioned. We might tern it ‘harmony in the cab’ —
definitely of a less rambunctious nature, though quite solidly as
cemented as those of a more precocious kind.

For Mrs. Roy Tribbey, the thrills of going to reunions and
riding engine cab with Iron Man Roy is a rare wifely privilege.

‘It is the finest thing a woman can do, to tolerate her
husband’s hobby and to share it,’ says she, in her most
refined telephone operator’s ‘Number please’

‘Oh, of course, there’s a little dirt that’s
objectionable to a woman, about an engine, but that s small
compared to the fun of going along and being with your
husband,’ adds Margaret. ‘The woman, I’d think, who
really doesn’t enjoy life is the one who stays at home and
wonders where her husband is and what he’s doing.’

As for Iron Man, Roy Tribbey, having served for over a
quarter-century as supervisor of city streets in Xenis, Ohio, (for
which he was awarded a fine gold watch for excellence of service) –
driving his big 50-horse Case Engine willynilly over the Darke
County reunion grounds without worrying about curbs, sidewalks and
street surfaces to repair, is about the best vacation a man of his
stature and office can indulge in.

‘When I went to work on the city streets of Xenia, it was a
community of only ten thousand,’ says he, looking back over the
years. ‘In twenty-five years it’s grown to incorporate
twenty five to thirty-thousand people.’ (And that’s a lot
of people to have griping to you, day and night, about what needs
fixin’ in your town, we betcha.)

For Iron Man, Roy Tribbey, and wife, Margaret – tossing their
combined duties as street commissioner and ‘hello girl’ to
the four winds, and shoving off for a threshermen’s reunion
with their mighty Case is about the most successful way to find
conjugal bliss in the hectic modernity of a nerve-frazzled world.
Should our modern courts of marital appeal ever visit a
threshermen’s reunion ground and observe what tranquility takes
place, they might be able to boast lengthier lists of wrecked
marriages salvaged from the divorce courts. At least they would
come up with a few new, heretofore unheard of matrimonial

Says Iron Man Tribbey, ‘If I sold my Case Engine, I’m
afraid I’d lose Margaret. She’s as fond of this engine as I

In other words, Roy Tribbey loves both Margaret and the Case as
much that the mere thought of bartering the one and losing the
other is not to be trifled with. And, conversely, Margaret who
loves both Roy and the engine, would take a mighty dim view of any
such deal.

‘I waited twenty-six years to get this 50-horse Case which
came out of the factory in 1919,’ explains Iron Man Tribbey.
‘It set out at the end of a fellow’s barn that long and was
never moved. But I kept my eye on it till I finally was able to bid
on it at an auction.’

‘I’ve had it now about twenty-five years. We fire it up
and run it in local parades and at reunions at Urbana,
Mechanicsburg and Greenville (west central Ohio) every year,’
says Roy. ‘The threshing I’ve done with it has been mostly
at the Darke County reunions near Greenville.’

The caboose is off the Rio Grande and 0587 is its original
number. It had been badly damaged by fire and was rebuilt by
members of the Society.

The final parade had just ended at the Darke County Threshers
the Sunday I was talking to Iron Man Roy Tribbey and spouse
Margaret. I had just finished towing a neat little upright steam
engine, also belonging to Roy, through the big parade behind my
mighty ‘Joe Dear’ one-lung Delco-powered garden tractor and
parked the twain over by a shagbark hickory tree on the reunion

‘Fellow by the name of Smith, who collects engines, asked me
if you’d sell your little upright engine.’ said I to Roy at
the close of our conversation.

‘No, I like it too well to sell it guess I’ll keep it
around for a while , with the Case,’ replied our Iron Man to my
query. (Fearful of losing Margaret by selling that one, too,

‘He’d better not sell it,’ remonstrated Margaret,
bearing out my suspicions. ‘If even that one goes, I go
too,’ paraphrasing the well-known love story Ruth in the Bible
(whither Thou goest, I will go likewise).

To Iron man Roy Tribbey, his Margaret and two engines – may you
keep on coming together to our midwest reunions. Our eternal thanks
to all of you, the foursome, for lending us the rare insights of
marital bliss that can exist betwixt man, wife and ‘their’

From us any further advice to an Iron Man thus happily wedded to
both woman and steam engine would indeed be superfluous. Amen.

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