Monday, 16 August 2010 10:51

50 Years Ago Late Winter/Early Spring 1959

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From the 1959 Belgian Review, Fall 1958 Percheron Notes and general news sources of the period.)

KENFLEUR'S ROYAL FARCEUR, from the ad of A.F. & A.D. Allen, Salem, Ohio. They described him as "Still Pretty, Proud and Prolific" at 21 years. KING FARCEUR, herd sire for Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gale, Middleton, Indiana. This stallion was the 1958 winner of the Conner Trophy and a very popular sire of that period.
JUBILEE JAY LOU, 1st prize 3-year-old stallion and reserve grand champion at the 1958 Royal Winter Fair for Rudy Freitag & Sons, Alameda, Saskatchewan, Canada. And of course, the old master himself … CONQUEST, then 7 years old with 79 championships at major shows to his credit. Almost needless to say, owned by Meadow Brook Farms, Rochester, Michigan, where Harold Clark presided over that great stable.
Here is Bob Jones, Farmer City, Illinois, with Ann's Silver at the 1958 National Percheron Show at the Ohio State Fair. Silver was the grand champion stallion and Bob was the happiest man in Columbus, Ohio. And yes, the Clydes were stirring as well. This actually came out of the 1958 Belgian Review in an ad for the Peter Boro Leather Products, of Peterborough, Ontario, who made some of the finest show harness and Scotch collars at that time.

On March 18, 1959, President Eisenhower welcomed still another state into our union. It was Hawaii. The previous month it was Alaska. We haven't had one since, nor did it reflect any expansionist tendencies on our part. They were both sort of quasi-states already … one warm and one cold. I don't recall any big fuss about the admission of either one. It was sort of like having two more kids in for lunch–just put two more plates on the table.

There was quite a funeral up in nearby Wisconsin that spring. Frank Lloyd Wright, who modestly considered himself "the world's greatest architect," died at the ripe old age of 89. He was a colorful man and a real son of the upper Midwest. He dropped out of high school (probably bored and impatient to get on with it). He somehow gained admission to the University of Wisconsin. Come his senior year at Madison, he took off for Chicago where he was able to study under Louis Sullivan. Sullivan was "the father of the skyscraper" and the big box type buildings in the city. Wright came to detest that type of structure.

His contribution, and it was a great one, is that form should follow function. He won great fame with his low terrain "prairie-style homes" that you will find throughout the upper Midwest. Take a good look at Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. Do you see any mountains?

But, architects have to live too, so you take on jobs that (well, he could!) come your way. You can't make it on just one prairie-type house after another. So, he designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. I assume that it was a big boxy thing, could hardly be otherwise, given the nature of hotels in large cities. Real estate in Tokyo was considerably higher priced than South Dakota and Iowa prairie. Then, in 1922, along came an earthquake which shook the daylights out of Tokyo. The only big building left standing was the Imperial Hotel which he had designed. So he could sing as well as dance.

When he was awarded the gold medal of the National Institute of Arts & Letters in 1953 he was quoted as saying, "I feel coming on me a strange disease … humility."

We recently enjoyed a brief visit from David and Mary Flinn from New York state. They had two other stops to make. They wanted to see a Frank Lloyd Wright house about 40 or 50 miles east of us and to visit Dick and Joy Sparrow … about the same distance to the south. I think the Iowa Tourist Bureau should be made aware of this choice.

On May 27 of that same year, former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles died. He was a crusadertype and the architect of our cold war efforts of that era. He defined brinkmanship as "the fine art of almost going to war." His hatred of Communism was very public and well-known. He was nothing less than a modern day crusader. I think maybe he and Frank Lloyd Wright had a few things in common, such as a certainty of "righteousness" in what they were doing. Crusading is not for sissies.

And now to the draft horse scene of 50 years ago. The Belgian breed was pretty much setting the pace in the draft horse ranks. Their registrations and transfers had stabilized in recent years and they were doing alright financially. The registrations for fiscal 1958 had numbered 365 head with 529 transfers. The Percherons and Clydes were also exhibiting a little more life … and all three of them had leadership in strong hands. The three main associations had all come through some very difficult times … shades of Dulles and Wright. The breeds were blessed with determined crusaders that brought them through, if not to the promised land, at least to a position of respect and popularity.

After 36 years of holding the National Belgian Show at Waterloo, Iowa, in conjunction with the Dairy Cattle Congress, the directors of that show had voted to discontinue the Belgian show. I was not the manager of the Cattle Congress at that time. A few years later I did become the secretary-manager and one of my first missions was to restore the draft horse department. The directors said, in effect, "Okay, give it a shot!" So Waterloo went back into the big horse business with not only Belgians, but Percherons and Clydes as well. So much for keeping the record straight on that subject!

It was during my tenure at Waterloo that Jeannine and I established The Draft Horse Journal. It was strictly a "moonlight operation" for the first few years. The basement of our house being the office and I kept some hayride teams and a few sheep at the showgrounds year-round. I suppose, at the time, it was considered an act of madness and maybe it was. But it worked.

We will run a few photos from the Belgian and Percheron publications of 50 years ago.

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