Hercules of 1920 vintage

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana

Joe Fahnestock

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Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

Not always is ye SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH confined to the mere nut-and-bolt, crank-and-joint echelon of our society. Sometimes duties higher and nobler in the way of civic and the public good beckon than that of hacking asphalt pavements to pieces with lug-tractors and/or swapping their wive's wedding silver for vintage one-lung gas-poppers.

In his backyard are such gems as the Grey Marine 1-cylinder reversible engine (foreground) and the Hercules of 1920 vintage, which he is looking over.

Like Spark-Plug, Clark Davidson, for instance -- lived in a log-cabin since a lad of seven, served variously as town marshall and councilman, and for the past ten years has served as head of the village government during five two-year terms as mayor and leading citizen of the village of Gordon, in southern Darke County, Ohio. Sort of keeps our SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH hopping and commuting to get all his daily routines of earning a living, serving the town government, appearing as 'Hizzoner, the Mayor' at the many civic and public functions -- and still have enough time left in a day to pursue his favorite past-time of hunting the highways and by-ways for more historic gas engines, farm tractors and odd jalopies to add to his already impressive museum of gasology.

For example an average day for Spark Plug Davidson means rising at the crack o' dawn -- four o'clock to be exact -- and setting off for the Metropolis of Dayton, Ohio, where he earns his daily bread as licensed fireman at the Delco Products. Home by three of an afternoon, Davidson fondles and fidgets at gapping sparkplugs and setting carburetors, turning fly-wheels and cranking motors of his large odd-assortment of historic farm tractors, utility engines and trucks. Come 6:30 of an evening, it's out the front door and off the porch, a mere hop-skip-and-a-jump for 'Hizzoner' Clark Davidson to the door of the council house hard by -- to preside over the village council session. But it's all so conveniently worked out in this uncomplicated village of Gordon where even butterflies can be seen peacefully wafting from flower to flower -- the major living practically on top of the village council house, and the chief of police, Chester Fen-ton, living next to him -- the two often hoofing it to council together, arm in arm for the evening session.

Whether it's tossing out the first baseball of the season at the village baseball diamonds, or addressing the annual Decoration Day exercises, 'Hizzoner' the mayor is always on hand to attend the ceremonies, while his many friends and supporters are in the bleachers approving and applauding.

But, although Clark Davidson always disclaims any ambitious desire on his part to serve as village mayor -- every time election rolls 'round, he's re-elected, despite the fact that during every campaign he drives his 1916 vintage Republic truck over the village streets and makes soap-box orations in support of his opponent.

The 'Mayor' starts out for a 'political story' of his village in his 1916 Republic truck--possibly to campaign for his opponent for office, of mayor. He doesn't want to be mayor--but they re-elect him every time.

'I always campaign for my opponent,' muses the Taciturn Clark Davidson -- 'But then I always wind up in office.'

All the more of an honor for 'hizzoner' --serving as leading citizen in this village of some 270 souls, including such illustrious and historic names as 'Abraham Lincoln' -- a young family man who has made his residence for some years in Gordon Village.

Could it be that his popular village leadership can well be explained in that his residence is an original log-cabin, in which he has lived since a mere lad of seven, when, due to his mother's early death, he came to live with his great, great grandmother -- and has lived there ever since.

But it's during those leisure hours that the soft-spoken Clark Davidson doffs his mayoralty garb to become just the tried-and true Spark Plug that he is -- upgrading his already immense collection of early Americana in way of old-time tractors, gas engines, fire trucks and jitneys.

The. Mayor looks over one of his two 25-50 Case Tractors of old vintage, parked in his backyard, by village council house.

And in case you're worrying about the bill of lading that makes up Mayor Clark Davidson's impressive array, it includes such items as his beloved 1916 Republic truck, which he often cranks up for a sortie across town, his two huge 25-50 Case gas tractors, five old time Fordson tractors still with original lugs, a rare Gray Marine engine of one-cylinder, two-cycle and reversible, not to mention a couple of old village fire trucks which he managed to salvage from neighboring communities.

In addition his collection boasts a 1925 Graham Bros. Dodge truck, a 1929 Reo Sped Wagon truck, a '29 Reo Speedwagon Fire Truck, a '32 4-cylinder Model B Ford truck, English and Irish Fordsons, Sears Roebuck Faubus, Chore Boy, Fuller-Johnson Water Low-Boy, not to mention numerous stationary steam engines and boilers, grain separators, a 7-foot horse-drawn binder and stone-burr grist mill. And not to be left out is his beloved Baker steam traction engine --all of which entitles Clark Davidson to becoming an honorary IRON MAN OF THE MONTH at some later date.

And still all this does not even make mention of his two Hudson cars -- a 1952 and a 1957, both of which look brand new in his barns, because Mayor Davidson keeps them covered and hermetically sealed with cellophane when not in use.

Of his first love -- (next to his wife, Martha) -- says Clark Davidson of his old 1916 Republic truck, 'It has solid tires, and reduction gears in the rear brake drums. The drive gear is separate from the solid axle. It has Prest-O-Lite illumination, an aluminum crank case with no head -- the valves can be removed from port caps. In cold weather I can pour gas in the priming cups for an easy crank-up start.'

It's a mighty good thing that there is no water or sewage department for 'Hizzoner' Clark Davidson to have to argue with in the village of Gordon -- taking his valuable time from such an impressive array of early Americana which he has appointed himself to preserve for posterity.

We doff our hat proudly to 'Hizzoner' Clark Davidson, major of his village and leading citizen, licensed fireman earning his daily bread 'n butter, family man and proud grandfather to two proud little grandsons, 'Punk' and 'Donny' -- and devoted collector of much that has made America great. Indeed, the list is to long even 'Hizzoner' can't keep track of everything.

During the year 1965, the Rough and Tumble Organization had a building project which resulted in building new restrooms and provided the needed water and sewage disposal system.

The 1966 program was to totally enclose and also add to the present museum building and also purchase a new submersible pump for the new well. The 1967 project resulted in a building approximately 8000 square feet of floor space plus a sawmill shed.

These projects are all financed through your membership and donations plus the fall reunion proceeds.

Our 1967 Reunion dates are August 17, 18, and 19. Your participation is needed to keep the R & T smoke moving. 'Watch Our Smoke!'

Pictured is a view of the South wall of the 40' x 192' building during construction progress. The trusses were placed during the spring opening and the building has been completed on following Saturdays by volunteer labor. The cost of the materials for the building amounts to $4500 and has been financed through a bank loan. Any and all donations will be appreciated to pay off this worthwhile adventure.

A floor space of nearly 8,000 square feet is now available on a first come, first served basis. There is some space unaccounted for at present. Reservations for storage of your equipment can be arranged by contacting President, Dan Brubaker.

The building construction consists of wood trusses set on used utility poles. The roof and three sides are covered with galvanized sheet steel. The floor will be covered with stones to keep the equipment off the ground. The building is divided into 16 bays, each 12 foot wide. The south wall will be open with a 13 foot high clearance. There are no internal posts to interfere with the parking of equipment.

Dick Wood showing off a few of his gas engines at the 'gas-up' held at his home in Livonia, N. Y. for the Pioneer Gas Engine Ass'n. Inc. on May 14, 1967. Twenty-four gas engines were counted and about 60 people were present. A good crowd for the cold day. Two of the main attractions were a rare Stickncy engine owned by Dick Wood, and a Fairbanks engine built around 1900, owned by Wesley Hammond of Leicester, N. Y. This engine was built by Fairbanks before the consolidation with Morse to become the Fairbanks-Morse Co.

Other members who brought engines were Wilbur Peters of Gasport, Bill Schneider of Darien and Arthur West of Canadaigua. (I hope no one is left out).

Another feature was the freezing of home made ice-cream in a crank style freezer. Everyone present agreed that they hadn't tasted such delicious ice cream in years.

Hay was chopped in an old cutting box, and Susan Wood and her friend Jane operated an old wooden washing machine run by gasoline power.