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Monday, 16 August 2010 12:19

50 Years Ago Late Spring/Early Summer 1958

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From the general news sources of the period and the Belgian and Percheron publications of the time.)

In North Africa, Algeria was in full scale revolt against Paris and French domination. France returned their "strong man," Charles de Gualle to power. It didn't work 100%, but I doubt anyone expected it to. It probably did as much to calm things down as anything could have.

It was a very tempestuous year all around the globe. Kind of like every other year in the last of the 1950s.

China was planning it's "Great Leap Forward," called the biggest and most ambitious experiment in human mobilization in history. The leap was supposedly the desire of the masses, but it was really Mao Tse-tung's conviction that it was the only way to shift them from the village and rural life to steel furnaces, shipyards and cities. He was impatient for China to take its place as an economic giant and to perform economic miracles. There was no room for Pearl Buck and Methodist missionaries in Mao's new China.

On August 27, the crew of the nuclear submarine Nautilus was honored by a ticker-tape parade for making the first undersea voyage across (or under) the North Pole. At least that gave us a new public hero and nobody got hurt.

That is as good a note as any to switch over to the draft horse scene in 1958. First we will go to the Spring 1958 Percheron Notes.

It was customary at that time to run a family picture of someone who had made a major contribution to the breed. In 1958, it was the Ralph Coddington family from Indianapolis, Indiana. We are going to run that same picture here with the same cut line. Ralph was a chemist. Now, you say, that is an unlikely vocation for a Percheron breeder.

No so. Ralph's father, a farmer, was a Percheron breeder and in 1945 presented Ralph with a good black mare named Lynnwood Dondixia upon his graduation from college. She was sired by Lynnwood Don, twice premier sire of the breed. She was a regular winner for Ralph and a good brood mare. Ralph's first experience on the show circuit started out as a little lad, helping his dad and his passion for Percherons never faltered. He served on the boards of both the Indiana Horse Breeders Association and the Percheron Horse Association of America in several capacities over the years.

When Jeannine and I first launched The Draft Horse Journal in 1964, I attended the Indiana State Fair–partly to meet this man. I asked Ralph if he would be willing to contribute a column about Indiana draft horse affairs on a quarterly basis–and he agreed. We always had a pleasant relationship with Ralph and his family. Both we and the Percheron breed in this country remain indebted to his memory. Very nice guy–great family. And the same can be said for many others in this "big draft horse family." It really is an extended family.
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