Tuesday, 17 August 2010 08:41

25 Years Ago Late Summer/Early Autumn 1981

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(from our own DHJ and the general news sources of the period)

Royalty and Anarchy vied for the headlines in British newspapers as the days of July dwindled down to a precious few ... like three. On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married in a ceremony witnessed by a couple thousand, or however many people you can cram into St. Paul's Cathedral-plus the unnumbered thousands who listened via radios or viewed it on the newest adult toy, color television.

The ceremony took about an hour and the monarchy could once more heave a sigh of relief and then start worrying about what the next heir to the throne would be like. Diana's pedigree must have passed muster, tracing as it did to the first Duke of Marlborough. Their regard for him was a far cry from what "the Marlborough man" meant in America at the time. Here he was an incredibly handsome young cowboy who smoked Marlborough cigarettes. Amazingly enough, he could ride, rope and smoke all at the same time, was always courteous-even courtly to women and unfailingly kind to children.

I said Royalty vied with Anarchy for the front pages. That calls for an explanation. Maggie Thatcher was the prime minister at the time and she had an entirely different set of concerns than Princess Di. For just a couple days after the big wedding, England was rocked with nasty gatherings of people who had not been invited to the wedding and were unemployed. It was hard times in England at that time. The state of the monarchy was the least of their concerns. But both of those women were tough enough and competent enough to do what they had to do in their respective worlds.

Ronald Reagan, who had unseated Jimmy Carter as president in 1980 and had already survived a would-be assassin's bullet, was warming up to the task he had taken on. When the air traffic controllers walked off their jobs, then chose to ignore a back-to-work order by a federal judge, most of the people said, "Uh Oh" or "I'll cancel my flight." Not so with Reagan-he fired them. Somehow enough people were found to keep the absolutely essential flights going.

It wasn't "just another strike." This walk-out put my wife, or son or good friend who was scheduled to fly, in jeopardy. It was very personal and Reagan scored some serious points by saying, "You no longer work here."

There was a precedent for this. Reagan was a great admirer of former president Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge didn't have a big fan club, but Ronnie was one of them, and he expressed his admiration for Coolidge every now and then. In this case, he took a leaf from Coolidge's playbook.

While Coolidge was the governor of Massachusetts in 1919, a group of Boston policemen obtained a union charter from the A.F.L. (American Federation of Labor). Boston's Police Commissioner Curtis took a dim view of this and suspended the 19 leaders. Samuel Gompers, president of the A.F.L., protested this action by the Police Commissioner of Boston to Governor Coolidge. I guess he was going to pull rank on Commissioner Curtis.

But it didn't work. Coolidge's reply was "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time." The strike was over! I guess that curt statement did its share to propel Coolidge onto the Republican ticket in 1920. Do I think Reagan had Coolidge in mind when he said, "You're fired?" Yes, I do. Although I think he could have and would have said "You're fired" without Coolidge.

It was about this time that Reagan was pushing Congress hard to cut taxes, especially for business. He had a Republican Senate and enough Dixiecrats (Democrats who acted like Republicans) in the House of Representatives to get his program across.

We mentioned Princess Di and Maggie Thatcher. There was a third woman in the news and Reagan put her there. He nominated the first woman justice to ever serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. She was Sandra Day O'Conner from Arizona. She may have been the first supreme court justice from Arizona as well. She recently retired from the court. And she did OK.

Getting back to Reagan for a moment. He and Maggie Thatcher were cut out of the same cloth politically-and they got along famously. Both were "you're fired" kind of people.


The Autumn 1981 issue of The Draft Horse Journal was 116 pages, about par for the course at that time. The cover picture was a great shot of two of the black Clydesdales used at that time to pull a stagecoach at Fort Steele Historic Park in British Columbia, Canada. They were also used in a six-up for special occasions and that historic park maintained a breeding stud so it involved 15 to 20 horses. The lovely picture was taken by Lenore Oddie, Pincher Creek, Alberta.

From as far west as you can get and keep your feet dry to as far east as you could go-that was the distance between the cover and page 4. That is where our lead article appeared about Joe and John Kriz, a farrier dynasty in the state of Connecticut ... one that is still soldiering on, I might add. Those brothers and their efforts were absolutely essential in carrying the heavies through that awful period in the '50s and '60s, when almost by common agreement, the draft horse was either buried or given up for dead. As the article stated, "For the entire decade of the fifties, the Kriz brothers scoured the entire Eastern Seaboard in search of whatever large horses were to be found ... and the pickings were poor."

Great men, the Kriz brothers. They were regular attendees and frequent buyers at the sales the late Arnold Hexom was conducting here in Waverly in the '60s. I think they became regular house guests at the home of Russ Solheim, then county agent here in Waverly. Whatever, the Solheim-Kriz relationship was a good one. And this article written by Dan Civitello from Woodbury, Connecticut, was a good one too. We don't have room to run the whole blooming thing so we will just shrink the two pictures of the brothers at the anvil. For more about the modern day Kriz operation just check out the inside front cover of any recent issue.

The next article was a travelogue of sorts. We did a good many in those days. Jeannine and I took a tour through the hills of southeast Pennsylvania on this one. It was a wonderful trip in a beautiful place. Our first port-of-call was with a young couple named Lawrence and Laren Kurland and their Periwinkle Farm. I can still (when I work at it) hear the bullfrog in their pond. He was the loudest and most tireless bullfrog I have ever heard. All night long. An outstanding specimen. Great people-with a great frog, along with some fine Belgians.

Other stops included Elmer Lapp, the White Horse Machine Works, Don and Janice Ruhl and the almost unbelievable sight of H. Edgar Messerschmidt from near Myerstown. He was said to be gone to the Bavarian Festival in Barnesville, some distance away. But, as luck would have it, he had come home on some quick errand (probably for more band-aids or Absorbine-he had suffered an incredible series of little misfortunes). Although he was (as he himself said) barely serviceably sound at the time, he was in full Bavarian uniform. It isn't every Belgian breeder in America who can quote the great novelists and poets of the English language at length and with accuracy-and wear the uniform of a Bavarian official of some sort and drive a six-up-but Edgar could. It was a great little journey to an interesting part of America.

That issue carried an article on horse logging by Jan Fraser from Idaho. She and her husband logged some very steep country, like with a ground slope of 55%. On this job, she said, "Our first mistake was believing that we need horses 1,800 pounds and over. Unfortunately, most horses that size have problems handling themselves on ground that steep." When you add a dense undercover to that steep a slope, there is such a thing as having horses that are simply "too big." Nimble can be more important than big in some circumstances.

This was also the issue where Mike Johnson from Florence, Oregon, presented his facts and figures on using horses rather than motorized trucks to pick up garbage. The horses won hands-down, and that was back when gas was cheap!

In retrospect, it was a right decent issue and it is fun to revisit those times. I guess that is why old back issues continue to be in demand. Kind of sad, too, when you factor in all the old friends who have gone on to that last big plowing match in the sky.

Here is Mike Johnson's horse drawn garbage pickup at work in Florence, Oregon. With gas pressing $3 a gallon, one would think a "return to horses" would make sense, particularly at public places. (From the Autumn 1981 DHJ)
The late Paul Waltermyer, Manheim, Pennsylvania, with a pair of Ivan Stoltzfus' mules from Narvon, Pennsylvania. Paul was a good buyer of mules at Howard Johnstone's sales in Topeka, Kansas, at that time.
John Kriz & Joseph Kriz
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