Iron Man Of The Month


| March/April 1969

  • Case engine
    Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390. Case engine belongs to Ralph W. Lindsay, Beverly Hills, California.
    Joe Fahnestock
  • Charlie Barker
    Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390. Hands on throttle and steering wheel, eyes straight ahead whenever the plowing gets tough and the stack snorts, Charlie Barker and Wickey Jones wave their caps to add more horsepower at urging Old Smo
    Joe Fahnestock

  • Case engine
  • Charlie Barker


Though Wickey may sometimes act
In running an engine he's nobody's
First married an engine, then later a
Became engineer of both, for life.
Then there's Charlie, a figure quite
Who can hot-rod a Baker, by gum;
Drags long on his fags, drools deep,
then hiccups,
Makes OP Abner bark at the steam-ups.

Sometimes 'ye Iron Men' are an inseparable lot, 'tending the reunions in pairs, the twain of which ne'er do part. And sometimes these brotherly pairs, though tied together with some kind of ethereal binder's twine, both invisible yet unbreakable, exhibit personalities as opposite and diverse as the poles of our globe.

Were it left to a psychiatrist, peering down from his ivory tower to make the decision, I'm afraid he would deem it his august judgment to prescribe that the sunny-dis-positioned, easy-going Wickey Jones be placed in a separate pen from the more introspective, quite brooding type that makes up the personality of one Charlie Barker, declaring that while both boys may well have come from the same state of Kentucky, one must have been born on one side of the hill and the other the direct opposite. But of course the vaunted psychiatrist might well have never heard of such a thing as a steam threshermen's reunion, or that the vibrating deck of a reciprocating steam engine can, and often has become the mystical sort of 'democratic platform' that somehow melts down diverse temperaments into a common denominator of work and brotherhood. One need not be a psychiatrist (although he might well wind up being one) to place his stamp of blessing and approval on the utter felicity and harmony that seems to eternally exist between 'Sunny Wicky' and 'Cheery Charlie' whenever the two of them get together to yank throttle and steer furrows, a show guaranteed to make any engine stack bark defiance to the throng that's watching. And it doesn't matter how tough or dry the ground or how many plows are digging their furrows to make the old stack coughlike a performing band during college football half-time, off go their caps, waving wildly in perfect unison, urging 'Old Smokey' to keep on going. One wonders just how much additional horsepower the waving caps of Wickey and Charlie contribute to an engine in laborbut somehow it lends sufficient therapeutic value as to always rescue them and their rig from stalling, to the point that should interest any qualified psychiatrist preoccupied with the vicissitudes of human nature.

One of the highlights of the Fort Wayne, Indiana Old Time Threshers & Saw millers Show is to see Charlie Barker and Wickey Jones wave their caps, urging the engine on when the plowing gets tough. Different personalities in every degree, though one lives on one side of Boone 'Crick' the other on the opposite bank, Sober Charlie and Wacky Wickey always arrive at the same show in different cars, whoop it up, give everyone a good-time Charlie show and really know how to run an engine together. 1. to r. a young friend, Sober Charlie Barker and Wackey Jones.

But what might illustrate most vividly to any psychiatrist the errors of his foibles is that, despite their differences in egos, wherever Wickey Jones goes, there goes Charlie Barker, too. And wherever Charlie Barker goes, Wickey Jones is sure to meander, even when they're not astride the deck of an engine. Oh they may strike out in separate cars, Charlie driving his Model-A and Wickey his family jalopy but they inevitably wind up together whether at the same reunion, the same tavern, or the same road that winds back home to the same neighborhood nestled deep among the same Kentucky hills.


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