UNION CITY, INDIANA.
‘I call ‘er the ‘Sassy Lady’ because she’s a
sassy-running li’l devil. You’ve never heard a sassier
running engine in your life, Have you? ‘ Thus spake O. W.
Nichols as he rolled and tossed on the vibrating deck of ‘Sassy
Lady’ – his beloved 17-70 H.P. Sawyer-Massey of Canadian origin
whose beauty and performance at midwest reunions always stops both
old-timers and ‘younguns’ in their tracks at the sights and
But over and above the bright reds and greens and polished brass
punctuated by the sharp, pronounced bark of the picturesque capped
stack of Sawyer-Maasey, there’s always a feeling of good
old-time international relations that permeate the atmosphere
whenever good-fellows gather ’round the ‘Sassy Lady’
each year at the big National Threshers Association reunion at
Wauseon, Ohio. For ‘Sassy Lady’, unlike other steam engines
at the reunion, possesses that rare charm of bringing Canadian and
American throttle-jerkers into friendly and amiable conclave – to
blow off steam together and thus smooth over borderline
relationships that might well be the envy of any international
Could it be that a shoe-pounding Khrushchev might well have
visited a midwest American steam engine reunion, and thus worked
off his excess steam by popping off a safety valve at 200 pounds
pressure atop some steaming boiler, prior to entering the august
chambers of the United Nations, and thus be settled enough to
conduct the business of state in more dignified a manner. Or better
still, had the Russians rolled into Czeckoslovakia bringing a few
old-time threshing engines and separators instead of tanks and guns
– and the twain blown off steam together like 0. W. Nichols and his
Canadian cohorts ’round ol’ Sawyer-Massey ‘Sassy Lady
‘ – well, history would be a lot more pleasant to write and
read. (Iron Man, Art Heiland of Anna, Ohio, agreeing).
But regardless of the short-sighted wrangling of the
international set who spend millions getting nowhere in their ivory
towers, Pickerington’s O. W. Nichols and his ‘Sassy
Lady’ go about it their own ways in cementing relations between
nations. And when it’s all over, there’s always the
friendly handshake between men on both sides of the border, in
front of old Sawyer-Massey s boiler.
It all began back when O. W. was just a lad on the Nichol’s
farm between London and Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.
‘I got steam in my blood when I was only ten,’ is the
way Iron Man Nichols explains the beginnings of his love affair
with ‘Sassy Lady’. ‘I used to just love anything with
wheels. Played hookey from the country one-room school, many a
time, to run a steam engine on the farms along The Governor’s
Road which connected London with Woodstock.’
‘ Must’ve been about fifteen, when Dad got me my first
engine.’ reminisced Iron Man Nichols. ‘It was a White
return-flu portable. Dad got it to keep me down on the
‘But I wasn’t satisfied, because I began nagging for a
traction engine instead,’ mused O. W., flicking cigaret ashes
over into his engine coal bunker. ‘So Dad bought a 13 H.P.
Sawyer-Massey engine. Still not big enough – I wanted more
horsepower, and Dad bought a 14 H. P. Waterloo. Even that
wasn’t enough horsepower to suit me, so Dad got a 16 II. P.
Waterloo. You see Dad was very conservative when it came to