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Wednesday, 21 July 2010 07:53

75 Years Ago Late Autumn/Early Winter 1934

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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But first a jump or two ahead because life doesn't happen to you in a neat 1-2-3 sequence. It was early Autumn of 1953 and I was doing some fall plowing for my oldest brother Marv, who at that time was farming the old Telleen Homestead. In other words, I was just waiting around for my fourth and final year in college to commence.

A neighbor boy (since deceased) stopped by to see what this old buddy was up to. He inquired as to what my plans (if any) for the evening were and I responded "Nothing ... what do you have to offer?" He responded that the Fort Dodge school teacher he was engaged to be married to had rented a whole house in nearby Fort Dodge, along with three other single teachers. The entire house! For a whole school year. Did I wish to show up for the house warming that evening? Of course I accepted the invitation. I figured four young women teachers ought to be enough to go around ... even if one of them was already engaged to my childhood buddy.

To make a long story short I sort of paired off with a young Math teacher named Jeannine Sarchett. It was love at first sight and in less than a year, August 14, 1954, we were married. It turned out that we had a great many things in common. We eventually had five children, four of which are still with us.

Both of us had farming parents who loved their chosen pursuit and both sides of our pedigree were (like thousands of draft horses!) imports from Europe. Jeannine's from France. Mine from Sweden. Both from farming stock. Both her father and mine took great pride in their draft horses and regarded the change from farming to what is now called agribusiness as a net loss to the country and a rural community destroyer. Both regarded farming as a high calling ... not a drudgery.

Now to get us back to 1934 (75 Years Ago) which is what this column is supposed to be about. My maternal grandfather was a cattle feeder and often "promised" to take me with him to Chicago the next time he shipped a carload of "white faced steers" to market there. I think he found the word Hereford somewhat effete ... so he called them "white faces." He died before he could fulfill that promise but I prefer to think that it was a proposition made in good faith. So I'll dedicate this column to the memory of John Carlson and the trip we never quite made to Chicago together.

Those Swedish immigrants that I trace back to settled in north central Iowa where the land was flat as a pancake and needed a dredge ditch every so often to make the surrounding land tillable ... rather than squishable. As for the dredge ditches they did provide teenagers with some pretty good trapping of both mink and muskrats. Coming fresh out of Sweden those early Telleens were probably fairly well conditioned to frostbite and snowflakes. And besides, they were with their own kind ... no pressing need to learn to speak English. Not right off the bat anyhow.

Jeannine's forebears, like mine, came from farming stock. So our kids were instantly blessed with hybrid vigor. Her forebears, as I noted earlier, came from France. Well, actually, I think they got sick of the endless Neopolianic Wars, and got a small boat to England. But they only made it to the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel ... at least, at first. Ultimately their destination turned out to be southern Iowa where you didn't have to dig hundreds of miles of dredge ditches before you can farm the place. Providence had already provided that part of the state with hills and hollers that would remove most of the excess water and also provide better hunting than a quagmire with man-made ditches in it.

Once, when Jeannine and I were knocking around in antique shops and photographing draft horses in Ohio, we noticed a reference and photograph of a building called Sarchett Hall on the Island of Guernsey. It was news to us but we did not go "see for ourselves." We were on horse business and had appointments to keep. My suspicion is that Sarchetts got run out of France for religious reasons. Her rebuttal was that the Telleens probably got run out of Sweden because they ran out of caves to hide in. Perhaps both of us were right, and besides ... who cares?

It is high time to get to the 1934 INTERNATIONAL LIVESTOCK SHOW in the great city of Chicago. Now as for a connection of any kind to a TALE OF TWO CITIES, we both remember reading it in college. It was (and is) considered a classic ... why else would English Literature teachers demand it?

As for Charles Dickens and his TALE OF TWO CITIES, if you want to read it I'm sure most any library has it. We have visited both. Our motive for London was centered around its Shire horses and our motive for Paris was to get acquainted with the Percheron breeders of France. Dickens, I think, failed to mention either Shires or Percherons. Probably just an oversight. We had a right good time in both places.

amphitheatre
The 4-H Club building and west frontage of the Amphitheatre, showing extensive free parking space.
championfeeder

Lest we forget those who weren't quite ready for the carcass competiion, here is the Best Carload of Feeders, 1934. Owned by L. Chatterton, Geyser, Montana.

I will close this Days Before with several photographs from the 1934 International Livestock Show. As far as I can recall that was among our worst of times, but somehow the nation muddled through. That great old livestock show in Chicago has its tales to tell ... it kept the faith through some perilous times.

So far as I was concerned as a kid growing up in a livestock environment, Chicago with its International, Waterloo with its Dairy Cattle Congress, and Des Moines with its historic old fairgrounds and livestock shows were blessed with an annual TALE OF THREE CITIES.

And now ... on to the 1934 International in the very bowels of the Great Depression of the 1930s. How's that for a transition? More like a train wreck, wouldn't you say? It (1934) didn't need any more grief. But I think the photo justifies second use. That is my excuse for re-running this great aerial photograph and the explanatory cutline from page 126 of our most recent Summer issue. The picture below is what the place looked like as the rebuilt Great International Livestock Show on Saturday, December 1, 1934, a scant 7-1/2 months after the fire. Now see the facing page and attend that amazing 1934 International

Livestock Show with photos from the 1934 International Review and Album.

One might say the reconstruction was phoenix-like. To you folks from Arizona ... peace. The phoenix bird is an important part of ancient Greek mythology ... it was supposed to live for 500 years and at the end of each cycle burn itself out on a funeral pyre. Sort of like the great Chicago stockyards 75 years ago. Only one phoenix at a time! Look at the upside. If the phoenix bird lived for 500 years ... you have quite a ways to go yet.

It is a little wonder that grandpa loved that place ... depression or not.

We've included photos of some of the winning pens of cattle. When it came to the sheep and swine shows, both carcass and on hoof, the land giants were invested even more heavily than in the steer shows. The Hampshire sheep show was made up of animals from no less than eight universities! But the champion carload of sheep was owned by C.J. Brodie from Ontario. And yes, they even had classes for the International Wool Show.

They didn't call it the INTERNATIONAL just to be boastful!

That fat stock show was all well and good for grandpa but my main interest wasn't in that direction. My dad was a dairyman first, along with a dozen or so brood sows ... and no sheep at all. And the farming was done with the draft horses ... nothing Henry Ford had built! Iowa was the very epicenter of draft horse production in this country... so many of the draft horse photos will concern Iowa horses.

Stringham Brothers from Dexter did the state proud by taking both the stallion and mare championships in the Cydesdale competition. We will also salute one of our current subscribers, Mr. Dan Jones. His grandad was busy with Clydes at Chicago in 1934, too, and I find it interesting that Dan's grandfather named his best yearling stallion WILL ROGERS and he stood 2nd place in class. The Joneses obviously had a sense of humor, even in the Great Depression.

But the big winner from Iowa was the Holbert Horse Importing Company from Greeley. They not only won the Best Five Stallions class in the Belgian show, but also showed an American-bred colt to grand champion in the considerably larger Percheron show. Now, as for that Best Five Stallions ... it wasn't too surprising when you read that the Holberts stood 1st through 4th in the class for 4-year-old Belgian stallions. I think there was a Holbert in Belgium most of the time in the early '30s. And the demand for Belgian stallions was very strong. Yes, drafters made a substantial comeback during the depths of the depression. Fueling up with home grown hay and grain to get your farming done was the order of the day. Henry Ford, I'm sure, had quite a tummy ache. And that concludes your little trip to the 1934 International Livestock Show. It was a wonderful place, even if grandpa never quite got me there. I managed to get myself to that show several times.

75yrs

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