Iron Man Of The Month


| September/October 1969



Dean Saunders

'Lord, we thank Thee for this, another beautiful day. Bless each and everyone at this reunion. Watch over us and protect us against all danger as we labor and work together in Christian Brotherhood. May we ever be mindful in all that we do of Thy presence, and to Thee be the glory. In His name we ask it. Amen.'

Thus it is that another wonderful day is begun at the Old Time Threshers and Sawmillers on the Jim Whitby farm, near Fort Wayne, Ind., with all heads bared and bowed while the divine blessing is intoned from the lips of engineer-chaplain, Irvin Bandelier.

THE OLD TIME RELIGION PAID OFF FOR CHRISTIAN ENGINEER - IRON-MAN BANDELIER. He prayed for a steam engine, got a Baker 21 75. Then he began praying for nice weather each day at The Old-Time Threshers and Sawmillers on the Jim Whitby farm near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He got the nice weather, and his daughter, Elaine, the schoolma'rm, got converted to steam engines. Before his prayers were fully answered, he wound up with a school teaching son-in-law and a Port Huron, who married the daughter who ran his Baker, then came two future engineers all five of whom have steam in their blood. Left to right on the deck of grandpa's 21-75 Baker are: son-in-law Dean Saunders, Beverly Ann, Grandpa Irvin, grandson Frederick Irvin and Elaine, the comely schoolma'rm, hand on throttle. No wonder grandpa Irvin Bandelier wound up in the Iron-Men Hall of Fame.

Raised in a Christian home, the son of an old-time steam thresherman, Irvin Bandelier's life was epitomized that unique and admired parallel in an engineer love of God, and love of the steam engine. For him the power of a piston driven by steam is matched only, and no less, by the power and impact of the good life. The same God who laid down the laws of thermo-dynamics from the beginning, is likewise the giver of the golden grain that man has threshed each harvest by the power governed by those very laws. To Iron Man, Irvin Bandelier, being a Christian is just a better way of being an engineer. Thus it is that, when things go wrong, as things often do when a wrench a fellow needs can't be found, the water in the boiler foams, the firebox wood is too wet, a flu begins to leak, the injector lays down on the job, the clutch slips and/or the blamed thing gets stuck on dead-center how much more noble it is to calmly take stock of one's self and deliberate on the cause rather than inflect invectives against fellow man and the Creator.

Deep-running in the hearts of the farm folk that have made up the backbone of our great nation was the faith and conviction of right over wrong. And for Iron Man, Irvin Bandelier, a better engineer because of his faith, life has rewarded its dividends many-fold.

For first-generation Irvin, the lonely role of being merely a nostalgic steam buff, basking in the memories of yesteryear, can and often did portend a rather unrewarding lot in life. But not for long. For there was a daughter, who unlike most girls, seemed tomboyish enough to crawl up on the vibrating deck of Dad's 21-75 Baker Engine and reach for the throttle just to be like Pop. And one time daughter, who had also become a school teacher, became acquainted with another young school teacher who also liked steam well enough to buy his own Port Huron Engine. And of course there was no better place for a steam engine girl to meet a steam engine boy than at a threshermen's reunion. (Where else?)