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Monday, 16 August 2010 10:36

50 Years Ago Late Spring/Early Summer 1959

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(from the general news of the day)

Horse news of the draft variety was hard to come by in 1959, particularly with the heavy breeds. True, the faithful kept breeding, working and showing them, but they were scoffed at by their neighbors ... as "living in the past." And the future, of course, was going to be absolutely wonderful. Agricultural "experts" had written animal power off as some sort of remnant from the ancient past. It was that small remnant of stubborn die-hards that kept the draft breeds alive ... plus powerful help from the Mennonite and Amish populations scattered throughout the east and middle-west that kept the faith. They had figured out that the best source of fuel was raised on your own farm and the best new tractors came out of a mare's uterus. Bred to a good stallion, of course, or a Mammoth jack if it was a mule you preferred. Most of the agricultural press had simply written draft animals off and out of their lives.

And now that the horse business has been dealt with we will go to the national and international news of that period. In view of my ancestry (all four grandparents being emigrants from Sweden) I feel obligated to mention that on June 26, 1959, Ingemar Johannson (with fists like the hammer of Thor) became the first native-born Scandinavian to become the champion heavyweight boxer of the world. He did so by knocking out Floyd Patterson from, I think, New Jersey, in the 3rd round.

Being a non-boxer myself I did not pay a lot of attention to this fact, but I suppose some did. When you weigh-in at about 130 pounds you don't go around picking fights … except with the likes of John Deere, Henry Ford and the other movers and shakers who were busy defining agriculture in an altogether different light.

It was very much the so-called COLD WAR with Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev publicly arguing the merits of capitalism and communism. I guess a cold war is preferable to a hot one.

We also swore in a new state at about that time. Hawaii became the 50th state in the U.S. Since they were more active in pineapples and warm beaches than draft horses, we more or less ignored that fact. We did visit there once a long time ago and I do think they could use a few more draft horses on those islands. We must remember to send an invitation to them to come to the next Waverly Horse Sale. They would enjoy it … if they don't freeze.

Insofar as the draft trade was concerned ... there wasn't much. Same way with breeding ... except that like a true lover, they simply refused to go away. When you know damn well you're right ... it just isn't in folks like that to quit. And we knew a bunch of them, like, for instance–our own fathers: Ed Telleen and Fos Sarchett, along with Ross Sparrow, Les Good, Arnold Hexom and on and on. They knew this country needed draft horses at work, so don't argue with me, boys, just go harness up!

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