1125 North Main, Decatur, Ill 62521
It has been sometime since the last I wrote you, but part of a letter by Mr. Rex Johnson of Terre Haute, Indiana in 'Soot in the Flues' in the March-April issue of I.M.A. induced me. Mr. Johnson ventured some criticism of the marking and identifying of equipment at the steam shows and I certainly think he has a point there. I think it would be very appropriate if steam show officials would insist that all equipment be numbered and some information (like perhaps a mimeographed or printed sheet giving some history and description of that particular piece of machinery or equipment) be available; for, as Mr. Johnson said,
'Why take a picture when you don't know what you got?'. And the pictures they do bring back and show to their neighbors and friends do advertise and create interest for larger attendance at future shows. Mr. Johnson also touched on a discourteous attitude of some exhibitors of engines or other equipment. Last year my wife and I attended some eight or nine shows and had a good time at all of them. But we did have more fun at the particular places where harmony, good fellowship and friendship existed.
However, we did see a few instances where some engineers or old car exhibitors were discourteous and actually rude to visitors. These instances, of course, are few and far between but they do leave a bad taste in an otherwise pleasant atmosphere.
I have a minature steam traction engine which I built myself and take to some shows and its gratifying to meet the fine people that come to visit and ask questions and make comments and it's amazing and a joy to meet the many young boys that show a sincere interest in steam engines. I have had some come and sit for an hour at a time a couple of times a dayjust looking and asking questions and it will actually surprise you the interest and understanding some of these boys show.
At the 1967 N.T.A. Show at Wauseon, Ohio, Mr. Frank McGuffin was in charge of an engine which he didn't run much but had a platform with step at the engine platform. This made it easily accessable especially for the ladies. People would come here to look and ask questions and Frank did a fine job of answering questions and explaining any part of the engine. This left a very good taste in the mouth of visitors, as I heard a number of people remark (Mostly the ladies), 'Who is that sweet old gentleman in the old overalls?'
Now I must air a little gripe directed at our good friend and buzzum buddy a certain Mr. Joe Fahnestock of Union City in the state of Indiana, the gentleman that writes all those beautiful and heartwarming Ironman of the Month articles. Not only are they interesting but they pay tribute to these old boys who carved out a piece of steam history that would otherwise go unnoticed. But what Mr. Fahnestock did to Mr. Charlie Ditmer in the March-April I.M.A. is unforgivable, unpardonable, and redeemable only by 20 lashes from an Advance smoke stack. Here is Mr. Ditmer, a very fine and congenial gentleman, who has a pretty lity bity 12 h.p. Advance of which he is justly proud because he keeps it perfect. And Mr. Fahnestock willfully, brazenly, and with his bare face hanging out calls it an Advance Rumley. Oooooh, Mr. Fahnestock, what you did! If you will now look on Page 10 of January-February 1964 I.M.A. you will see where a certain Wally Getman of W.S.F.A. boo booed by calling his little Advance 'Advance Rumely'. It took several months to get him straightened out but if he had gotten straightened any straighter his toes would have pointed skyward.
Now on Page 24 of November-December 1966 I.M.A., a Mr. Howard Camp of Newnan, Georgia, has a nice little Advance and, judging by the picture, he looks like a real nice sort of a guy. Funny how he would let his tongue slip along the same lines; and, if you will read his apology, you can see somebody really broke him from sucking eggs, as he says, 'I'll never, never, never do it again.' Oooooh, Mr. Fahnestock, what you have in store for you.
In closing, Miss Anna Mae, would you by any chance have some friend or acquaintance that owns a bugle and can play taps?