SOOT IN THE FLUES


| September/October 1995



Elmer Ritzman

Elmer Ritzman, IMA founder (1888-1971)

This is a very special issue of IMA for us, since we are beginning the 50th year of publication with this issue. From time to time, we are asked to recount the history of IMA, or to reprint the first issue, for the many folks who weren't on the mailing list in the summer of 1946. For the first time, we are happy to reprint the full 8 pages of the very first issue of the FARM ALBUM, beginning on page 17.

The Farm Album was the name that founder Elmer Ritzman used for his publication when he began his enterprise in 1946. Rev. Ritzman was a well known, indeed a beloved collector, as well as a preacher. When Elmer died on May 5, 1971, Anna Mae Branyan wrote about him:

To know what you want to do with your life is a wonderful thing Elmer had his convictions. He knew he wanted to be a preacher, he knew he loved people; and he knew he loved steam. And he did some thing about it! He became a preacher and administered to many people throughout his lifetime. He gathered innumerable friends throughout his ministry and from just being 'Elmer.'

Anna Mae Branyan began her first SOOT IN THE FLUES column in the March/April 1953 issue of IMA, after starting work for the magazine in September 1952. Here is how she described her selection of the name of her column, which we now carry on in her memory:

I chose the title for the column 'Soot in the Flues' for anything I'd try to say concerning the workings of this wonderful steam hobby would just be like cloggin' the flues with soot. However, if you're patient with me, I might get the hang of the vocabulary and educate my self in this field I do think I'll enjoy it.

And enjoy it, she did. Until her sudden death last summer, Anna Mae was a busy and cherished member of the IMA staff. Since 1973, Gerald Lestz has been publisher of IMA. Gerry was a longtime newspaper reporter and publisher of Baer's Agricultural Almanac, who purchased the magazine from Earlene Ritzman at the urging of some engine collecting friends. Gerry still comes into the office every day at age 81, but most of the chores of getting the magazine to print have been taken over by others in the office. Linda Sharron and Gail Knauer are now the two who keep up with the typesetting, laying out and editing of your articles. Happy Birthday, IMA!