Iron Man of the Month

| November/December 1967


Most of the time he's so quiet and unobtrusive you'd hardly know he was around. Yet there's hardly a Midwestern threshing reunion that he's not in there pitching, helping line up the big belt or at least standing by in the crowd to see if the job's done right. For be it threshing, sawmilling, plowing, hill-climbing or teeter-tottering he's completely absorbed by the sights thereof, like a farm lad getting his first glimpse of a mighty steam engine in operation.

And when the threshing reunion program wears a little thin, there booms out across the grounds the announcer's voice, 'Now folks we're going to show you how they make shingles.'

Then it is that Elmer Egbert's stride quickens for suddenly he has become the center of the big show, waving orders back and forth betwixt his special shingle -making machine at one end of the belt, and son Jack, or grandson Melvin on the vibrating engine deck at the opposite end. As the crowds converge in the center of the grounds, jaws drop and cuds shift from cheek to cheek while out pop the fresh new shingles from 'Uncle Elmer's' special machine. And every hand that can grab one is soon carting them off - souveniers long to be remembered of when steam was king and the building of farm houses from out the virgin timber was still a rural affair.

He's always been a sort of 'innovator' at the steam reunions, has 'Uncle Elmer' Egbert - fetching at various times either his ancient clover-huller, or web-stacker whenever he decides the onlookers need something different to keep the reunion pot boiling. And over the years, frequent sorties to the Egbert Farm near Anna in western Ohio, where Elmer lives on one side of Amsterdam Road and son Jack on the other, have afforded the onlookers the gamut of old time Americana from steam threshing and sawmilling to the making of sorghum and the fabrication of brooms.

I'll never forget my first ' invasion of the Egbert farm, armed with press cameras, flash bulbs and film, to write up one of Elmer's famous old-time threshing reunions, It was a different kind of reunion, more rural in flavor as the big Case Engine or Altmann-Taylor Gas Tractor barked and snapped at the belt in the old frame sawmill across the road while the sounds of threshing rigs vibrated and hummed in another field and the smell of slow-cooked country bean soup wafted temptingly from the big church tent at the far end of the grounds. What more delectable aroma exists for the human nostril than that of strong farm coffee blended with the delicacy of hot cylinder oil and wood smoke?