Monday, 16 August 2010 11:04

75 Years Ago Late Autumn/Early Winter 1933

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From the general news sources of the period, December 1933 Breeder's Gazette and the 1933 International Live Stock Exposition album.)

On October 14, Adolf Hitler was firmly in the saddle in Germany. He even complained that the rest of the world was treating him like a second class citizen! If so, that was being generous to a fault. He dissolved the Reichstag (the German government). He then withdrew his country from the League of Nations and committed Germany to rearm.

German voters were completely left out of these shenanigans (a good Irish word). The mad dog was not only on the loose but felt that he should rightfully be admitted to the Westminster Kennel Club show.

As for here in North America, we were pretty well preoccupied with our own problems. It came to be called The Great Depression, and that was a fair assessment. Everyday affairs were grim on both sides of the Atlantic. I make no pretense of any knowledge of how the rest of the globe was coping. Not very well, I think.

Surprisingly, President Roosevelt announced that our government had officially recognized the Soviet Union! This probably gave the British and French (not to mention Belgium!) a bellyache. The Russians, on the other hand, were, I suppose, elated. I reckon it gave a lot of conservative politicians here at home a tummy ache, too.

At about this same time Fiorello La Guerdia was a surprise victor over Mayor P. O'Brien for the office of mayor in New York City. When a man of Italian ancestry can whip an Irish-Catholic and a Democrat to boot in that town, it must have seemed like the world had been turned upside down–especially if your name was Dooley or O'Brien.

As for American farmers and their families, they were sucking hind teat all the way to the poor house. But as a healthy 5 or 6-year-old farm kid, I have no searing memories of depravation. Mom tended a big garden, we drank milk from our own cows, butchered our own chickens and hogs, canned home-grown produce and traded help freely with the neighbors. If there were any rich people around, us kids certainly didn't know them. Foreclosure was a word, drought was a fact.

The word "neighborhood" had a meaning well beyond what the word means today. There was a mutual dependence that created things like threshing rings for harvesting the small grain and similar exchanges for jobs such as silo filling. The terms "extended family" and "neighborhood" had great significance. That meant swapping help for the big tasks. Bleak? No. Trying to our parents? Certainly. But I do not recall our youth as a doleful time. Nor does Jeannine who was growing up in a similar rural community down south of Des Moines.

Leaving childhood and the Depression behind, I wish to mention one final political note for 1933. December 5, 1933, marked the end of Prohibition. It had been in widespread violation ever since it was enacted on January 19, 1919. This, no doubt troubled William Jennings Bryan–the man from Nebraska who wanted so badly to be president for so long. And it no doubt pleased August Busch Jr. who was hankering to harness up some Clydesdales. You just can't please all the people all the time.

For the finale I'm again going to go back to my 1933 Review and Album of the great International Livestock Show in Chicago. If nothing else it lifted the spirits of stockmen. Strangely enough, it had not been a bad year for some draft horse breeders. Grain was dirt cheap and gasoline was a purchased product. I think the old photographs will be of interest and tell their own story. The horse and mule was making a mini-comeback. Or, at least, horsemen hoped that was the case.

In the last issue I used photographs of three of the four grand champion stallions at that 1933 show. I also stated that I would picture the Belgian champion at this time. Here it is, in the form of a large ad in the Breeder's Gazette for December for that year. For C.G. Good & Son down at Ogden, about 30 miles from home, 1933 was probably a good year. The Belgian breed was on a roll and Grant and Les Good–the home of the Farceurs–was at the heart of it. I strongly suspect that 1933 was a pretty good year for our friends down at Ogden.


The champion six-horse hitch owned by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Busch obviously wasted little time after the repeal of prohibition to put his six-horse hitch on the road. The hitch show was pretty much a Clydesdale affair. Wilson & Company (meat packers from Chicago) had the champion halter gelding, also a Clydesdale. E.A. Jones and his son, Floyd, were about the only farmer-breeders with Clydes in the hitch show. R.C. Flanery from Illinois and George Dix from Ohio both offered some competition to the corperate hitches in the line classes.

Here are the four top winners in the Girls 4-H dressmaking competition. The winner was Naomi Shoemaker from Maryland, second from the left. I guess she made about every stitch she was wearing at a total cost of $21.61. This 18-year-old had been in 4-H for six years. The runner-up, Berniece Hooper from Idaho, is right behind Naomi. Her homemade outfit cost $13.64 for the dress and complete accessories. I had a sister of about the same vintage and she was a recipient of one of those trips to Chicago back in that depression era. It was a great experience for her.


Everybody wasn't broke. For instance, this is a photo of Pendennis, the winner of the 3-Gaited Saddle Class, owned and ridden by Miss Frances M. Dodge, Detroit, Michigan. I suspect there was a relationship between the rider and the Dodge Motor Company. There was also a fellow named George Brandeis from Omaha riding in those classes. As I recall from our first year of marriage in Nebraska about the biggest store in Omaha was Brandeis. Chicago was an interesting mix of high society, 4-H kids, canny old herdsmen and breeders and collegiate judging teams and their coaches.
For my final photo from 1933's International Livestock Show and 4-H Club Congress, I just have to run this picture of the boys delegation from the state of Texas. The old guys on the far ends are NOT 4-H boys. They are the agent from the Santa Fe Railroad on the left and the state club leader on the right, respectively. You will note that all those boys are wearing what could be called a stockman's hat. I suspect if one had shown up with a butch haircut or a baseball cap, he might have been drummed out of the regiment. What do you think?


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