131 Robin Rd., Blackwell, OK 74631
Jeff Davis at the throttle of Fricke brothers 6 HP Nichols and
Shepard at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1981. Jeff is one of my favorite
engineers. 'Little Nick' is sure a fine engine. Jeff Davis
is Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fricke's grandson.
About fifteen or sixteen years ago at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, my
friend, Webster Mooney of Nortonville, Kansas, introduced me to
Charlie and Alden Fricke of Mt. Union, Iowa. I had noticed the
Fricke Brothers' engines even before this, and that Charlie
always had room on the engine he was operating for young people.
When you would see Charlie in the parade, there would be some young
people riding with him.
I've been in this hobby since before the first shows. We
(Lyman Knapp, my Dad and I) were talking and thinking steam and old
tractors before we knew that there were other people in this great
country that had the same interest. Then, a preacher in
Pennsylvania started THE FARM ALBUM as it was first called. His
name was Elmer L. Ritzman. The first thing we knew, steam shows
were started. At first only a few, but it wasn't long before
shows sprang up in several states, such as Blakers in Ohio; Kinzer,
Pennsylvania; Mt. Pleasant; Pontiac, Illinois. Along with these
shows, names like Charlie Harrison, LeRoy Blaker and Holmer Holp in
Ohio, Arthur Young in Pennsylvania, Lyman Knapp in Oklahoma, Harold
Ottaway and E. C. 'Big Mac' McMillin of Kansas, Fred Kiser
and Milford Feese in Illinois, became well known. It was through
this little magazine that we learned of different collectors and of
course, got to meet these people at the shows. And it was June 24,
1946 when Rev. Elmer made a little trip to see if there was enough
interest to start his little magazine.
Over the years, many of the old steam boys that loved their
engines have passed on. So if this hobby is to survive, we must
train young engineers and give them a chance to run an engine.
I've read many an article in the hobby magazines and in the old
American Thresherman where the old timers would say, 'Dad
started me firing the old Gaar Scott' or whatever make of
engine they had when they were 12 or 14 years old. So let's
take time to teach the young people who show interest in our
Getting back to 'Charlie's Engine Crew,' I've
gotten to know Charlie Fricke much better in the last few years. I
haven't seen anyone that spends more time with young people.
Charlie has a special way with these kids. He always has time to
show and teach them. And it's not just all work with Charlie.
He lets them have the reward of pulling a steam throttle. And as
you know, that is a thrill you will always remember. At the 1981
Mt. Pleasant show, Charlie had his grandson, Jeff Davis, running
the 6 HP Nichols and Shepard. Jeff was 12 years old. This
wasn't his first year helping Charlie. That year Jeff ran the
engine by himself; of course, always under Charlie's watchful
eye. Jeff will make a fine engine man. He has a genuine interest in
the engine. It's a pleasure to see a young man that is all
business and doing such a good job with an engine at this age.
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