| July/August 1971

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

Some of the good heartedness of big Fred Leathermon seems to have rubbed off onto one Don Stocker of Bradford, Ohio. At least that's the feeling one gets whenever he happens to be in the company of Don -- either at one of the midwest reunions, or visiting in his home. But more than just a mere exchange of personality and goodwill betwixt the twain, evidence reveals firsthand that some pretty hard over-the-barrel and under-the-table transactions have been going on of late between Iron-Man Leathermon and Spark Plug Stocker in way of some of those rare antique cast-iron toy tractors, steam engines, horse-drawn grain wagons and other goodies which are now occupying the shelves in Don's domicile.

For the past four or five years at midwestern reunions, wherever the Fred Leathermon trailer of antique toys happened to be set up and staked out, there would be Don Stocker hanging around, his eyes bulging, his mouth drooling at all the 'goodies' displayed there. And whenever Fred 'the greater' would be seen hoofing it across the reunion grounds to take in the sights or plop down at the 'eatin' tent' for a bowl of beans 'n crackers for his noontime lunch, there would be Don 'the lesser' at his side -- taking in the sights and eating beans tool Somehow the corpulant Fred Leathermon seemed to hold the ever-present Don Stocker in perfect orbit around him, like a planet revolves about the Sun. Whether it was the Leathermon 'charisma' or those rare antique cast-iron toys -- or both that worked this special magic, we haven't decided, but we are highly suspicious of the latter.

There are several ways to go about trying to buy things from a guy who collects odd-ball items and doesn't wish to sell them, once he's got them. There's the one method most of us unfortunately employ, for want of wisdom to know better -- just asking the man if he'll sell it and getting the reply 'No -- it's not for sale.' And that is that. Then there's a more successful way -- that of having something the other fellow wants worse than what he already has -- a most powerful wedge which often works in prying loose the object of your desire. But the most effective approach which works when all others fail is to just hang around the guy you want to swap something out of -- live with him if you have to, but sweet-talk him, cajole him, always agree with him, keep your sunny-side exposed to him at all times, be complimentary, a first-rate and dependable friend in both fair and foul weather, never disagreeing with him but always accenting his strong points of character and personality even to the extreme of telling him he's most generous while all the time eyeing the objects of your desire which you will eventually talk him out of.

Don Stocker's biggest and latest prize is this Case Cross-mount Model-T, 25-45 of 1929 vintage. It was in perfect, original condition, purchased from Harold Fleisch. Hardly worn. It weighs almost five tons. Don Stocker manipulates the controls on the deck. Bob Palsgrove has just wound the engine up, the big crank is still in his hand.

One of Don Stocker's 'prizes' is a recent find of a salesman's sample road scraper which peddlers took around to show county and township commissioners for purchase to improve dirt roads. Don Stocker and Donny admire the beautiful detail and exact scale of the rig.


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