Iron Man Of The Month


| September/October 1970



80 horse Case

Iron-Man Frank Miller in the engineer's cab of his 80 horse Case A familiar sight at the Old Time Threshers & Sawmillers, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390

Joe Fahnestock

UNION CITY, INDIANA.

Of DAYTON DAILY NEWS AND RADIO'S 'JOE'S JOURNAL'

There are steam engineers, and there are steam engineers. Some are of the squat, broad-chested, oily-overalled type, others the gaunt, bent-over, big-veined variety with barely enough energy to get through the day's work of oiling up and throttling the big engine under their command. And then there is another kind, though a bit more rare the engineer who, though complete master of his machine and the job it is performing, nevertheless impresses others that he could well have fitted into other professions quite as well as running a steam engine, such as qualifying in the field of education, the world of business or the political arena. In other words we now and then see the polished, intellectual kind of steam engineer who could well fill a roll in a diversity of callings besides the art of running a steam engine. And that is the kind of engineer that Frank Miller, sawmiller. lumberman, thresherman and elite impresses others to be.

If Walter Cronkite was interviewing Frank Miller, he no doubt would employ the term, 'charisma', in describing that unexplainable, almost mystical aura that radiates about the personality of Frank Miller whether he's throttling his big eighty horse Case, serving as head sawyer, or riding the gang plows during the steam engine plowing demonstrations at the threshing reunions. But whatever he's doing at the moment, his total personality and bearing leaves the impression that he is indeed the master of all of these and more too.

As for me, behind the arm that jerked the throttle, the erect physique and the quiet, positive demeanor, there appeared to be the mind of the educator in the man, Frank Miller. But after years of quietly observing and trying to equate the man, he confided that he didn't have the opportunity to attend high school. All of which proves my strongest convictions that education comes not from college books and campus but by living experiences which engrave their images on the receptive mind and character they enrich.

When most other farm lads his age were heading for the pre-ivy league portals of the local high schools, armed with their eighth grade diplomas, while Dad and Mom supported them in their pursuits of a higher education with the family cream check, Frank Miller was tagging along with his uncle to begin a career of threshing in the wild and woolly northwest.

'At only fifteen I passed my examination to become a steam thresherman in the courthouse at Fargo, North Dakota,' reminisces Iron-Man Frank Miller. 'All they asked my uncle was one question 'What part of a steam engine do you notice first when you sec one coming?'. And ho answered, 'The smokestack'. But they made me take the full examination of thirty questions, and I got twenty-nine right out of the thirty which wasn't bad,' chuckles Frank.