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| September/October 1997

  • Memoriam

  • Memoriam

The Era of a Steam Master: GENE NAFE, born June3,1930, died September 1, 1996. It is with regret that I close a chapter on a pioneer of the gas engine and steam shows. Many of us will remember Gene Nafe, the York County Dutchman with the long handlebar mustache. While many of us were disinterested at the time, too young, or not yet born, Gene was busy hoeing the road for future gas and steam shows. He embarked on a journey that would span five decades of showing, explaining, and demonstrating equipment that was used in building our nation.

Gene understood two of the most basic fundamentals for success in life and they were maintenance and people. An inquisitive fellow full of why's, he would not give up until he understood how something worked. I guess that's why he became a master 'fixer-upper.' He donated his time, resources, and knowledge in excess amounts over the years. State boundaries did not mean anything to him. If a show in another state needed help and support, they could count on Gene to be there.

Since 1959 Gene and his wife Creta were actively involved in many shows. He served as a director of the Early American Show at Stewartstown; helped with Lepo's Show on the Baltimore Pike, Maryland; Arcadia Show; Wesminster Show; Williams Grove Show; Fawn Grove Show; Locust Show; Penn's Cave Show; and the Menges Mills Historic Horse, Steam and Gas Show where he was a charter member and the vice-president of the club until his death.

Gene was highly sought after because many people understood that he knew how to make a show run. With him came many years of know-how and experience, the two most important ingredients for a show to survive.

Gene did not get his satisfaction by being the front man or, as some might say, the King Pin. Rather, he would like to work beside you and give you support and guidance when needed. His true satisfaction came after the show when he could look back and see how it could be improved to make it better. His evaluation was not one of criticism, but rather that of looking for any changes that might be needed for improvement and stabilization. He was one for trying new and different ways in the gas and steam shows. And he did just that!

I know from personal experience how Gene Nafe worked, for he served as my vice-president since the beginning of the Menges Mills Historic Horse, Steam and Gas Association eleven years ago. During that time I picked Gene's brain (not nearly enough) for ideas and how to go about doing many things. I learned years ago from my dad, if you want to know some -thing you go to the 'horse's mouth.'


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