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Great State: The CASE of the Missing Eagle

FAIRVIEW, OKLAHOMA — The history of 20th century machines is written on the corner of Main and Maple in downtown Fairview. Todd Smith is part of a third generation running the old Jensen’s showroom. “This room has held lots of things hasn’t it?” remarks a visitor. “Yes it has,” says Smith. “Anything from guns to boats, to cars, to agricultural equipment, to tractors and implements.”

Alfred Jensen started selling tractor parts out of a grocery store in 1931. Smith says, “Jensen’s is the oldest continuous GMC dealer in the state of Oklahoma.” As with any longtime business, pieces of history tend to pile up here and there. The Jensen’s display many of them proudly, original signage, pictures and memorabilia. “Everybody knows they’re in Fairview when they see the Jensen’s sign,” says Todd of the vertical neon lettering attached to the roof.

Sue Jensen still has a 1967 newspaper celebrating the dealership’s 36th anniversary. If you take a closer look at that special edition you’ll see a big eagle standing guard on the roof as well. It’s a symbol for the Case tractor company and stood there for 60 years in all kinds of weather. “We considered it an icon for the town,” says Smith.

Then one Monday in June, the eagle was suddenly gone, stolen over a quiet weekend. “Our hearts were broken,” Smith says. “One night somebody climbed up on the roof and decided it was more important to them than to us.” Sue Jensen says, “It was part of our family. It was never for sale. It was just a sentimental piece that we wanted to hold onto.”

Other families, other towns might have chalked up a loss like this with a collective shrug or a shake of their heads at the state of the world, but the Jensens and the rest of the town refused to give up. Todd and his wife spent the summer scanning the internet and old implement sales. If a Case eagle goes up for sale they know about it. Todd Smith says, “We just want it back.”

The eagle they called ‘Old Abe’ might be just another piece of iron to some, but to Fairview it’s still a touchstone, and they refuse to let go.