| September/October 1972

Grass Show at Harrodsburg

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.

John Hoover

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

He was the longest-whiskered, fullest-bearded Sparky we'd ever seen in 'them thar' parts. But the Blue Grass Steam and Gas Engine Show at Harrodsburg, Ky., where he'd come to do some spark-in', was a long way from his native 'ha'nts', back in the 'Land O' Lincoln', just this side of the Mississippi.

Nuts about steam engines and nuts about gas engines--Earl Holmes dubs himself an 'engine nut' from Chestnut, Ill. And this writer, having followed the scholarly little figure making his rounds over the Blue Grass grounds, sparking arguments both pro and con, hither and thither amongst the engines, wasn't about to doubt it.

Looking more like a Johannes Brahms in overalls than a farm engine mechanic, the knowledgeable Mr. Holmes lent his august presence throughout the length and breadth of the new Blue Grass Show grounds during its two-day event at the Mercer County Highway Department just outside Harrodsburg, Ky. Whether it was going over the fine points of antique classic automobiles, old-time farm tractors and gas engines, or arguing steam versus gas--the little fellow with the Santa Claus beard always handled his subject with a fine-tooth comb. And should the diverse opinions about internal combustion and/or steam ever culminate in an argumentative impasse, the astute Mr. Holmes (not Sherlock) would merely comb more facts out of his whiskers of long experience to settle the hash, capping it off with a heady froth of unbiblical explosions like a good Spark Plug should.

'I like steam--run many of them, only Reeves, double-cylinder, for that's all they made,' quoth the indomitable Mr. Holmes. 'But if you ask me about any of these old gas engines or automobiles, I can tell you plenty, too, as I've worked on about all of them. And that includes the old tractors, too.'

Spotting Angerreau McConnell's 1938 Huber HK Tractor of 37? Horsepower on the drawbar, Sparky Holmes jumped up on the rear deck and began preaching like a hard shell mountain Baptist from a soapbox pulpit on the vices and virtues of the old-time tractors and how he used to service and repair them.