It hasn't always been a case of "us and them," or "the Western world versus the Moslem world" where petroleum assets are concerned. Just 25 years ago this fall, a vicious war over oil assets was being waged between Iran and Iraq. Iran was a theocracy. Iraq was a dictatorship. Both were Moslem and both were led by fanatics who could generate considerable enthusiasm for sending their young men to death to prove it. The two tyrants were Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. Since the Ayatollah was sitting on 52 American hostages in the embassy in Tehran and we had already been humiliated by the death of twelve marines in a hostage rescue fiasco, I would guess that we were on Saddam's side–if we had to declare one way or the other. The fact is that neither us nor the Russians offered to mediate–and probably for some of the same reasons. Let the damn fools fight.
There was some good news from Eastern Europe. Lech Walesa had emerged as a labor union leader to be reckoned with in Poland. He even managed to get a concession from the new government head granting the union the right to strike. Moscow was not pleased but they had other fish to fry. In the old days they probably would have instructed the Poles to execute him. As it was, he eventually wound up being imprisoned for the better part of a year, but emerged from that to ultimately win a Nobel Peace Prize.
For something more cheerful let us salute the Philadelphia Phillies, champions of the national league who finally–after 98 years in existence–managed to win the World Title by defeating the Kansas City Royals in a six game series. This was their third trip to the World Series of baseball. They had won the national league pennant in both 1915 and 1950. Like mother always said, "You have to keep trying!"
Ronald Reagan and President Carter were both trying, ever so hard. Two very decent men. On October 28, they had a pivotal debate in Cleveland, Ohio. There aren't any clear winners or losers in debates, but the consensus was pretty strong that Reagan had hit a triple. Not only that, he could have done the play-by-play announcing the World Series game in the afternoon, taken a shower and gone to wherever to debate President Carter that night. The guy was loaded with charm and Irish wit. Carter was a formidable foe, but he couldn't dance like Reagan. As both the campaign and the debate went on, "Dutch Reagan" just kept getting stronger as he went. I think he enjoyed campaigning more than governing.
A week later this was born out when he won a landslide victory taking 489 electoral votes, far more than the 270 needed to win. Reagan was the 40th president of this country and, at 69, the oldest man ever elected to the office–a sports announcer (WHO Radio-Des Moines, Iowa), a movie star and governor of California before winning the presidency.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Parliament approved conditions for the release of the 52 American hostages they were holding. The price was 24 billion dollars. How's that for a thumb in your eye right during the change of the guard? Naturally the congress said, "No thanks."
But let's get back to oil for a moment. In October of 1980, both Ford and General Motors reported huge losses for the third quarter, way more than $500 million in both cases. Chrysler hadn't lost quite that much, but almost. They had already been bailed out by the U.S. Congress once back in July of 1979.
So here we are, the nation with more automobiles than anyone else on earth and we are just sure that our engineers and financial acrobats are all brilliant–and the big three in autos all lose their butts. What is the reason? The answer was "smaller, more fuel efficient Japanese and European imports." Isn't that amazing? You would have thought someone might have been looking over their shoulder–or in the rear view mirror–at what the "lesser" nations were up to.
This is probably getting about long enough because there is a LOT of draft horse news from 25 years ago. So much, that I couldn't even remember some of it happening. But first there was a study by scientists at the Rockefeller Institute on monkeys that I must share. They had discovered that monkeys communicated with sounds that could be considered a language. (Of course–even I knew that without "a study!") For instance, their alarm for an eagle was distinct from the one for a leopard or a snake. That makes sense. What is worrisome is that their warning for a snake was very similar to the one for human beings. What do you make of that?
The DHJ of 25 years ago was 140 pages–good-sized for those times. I note on the publisher's statement (required by the postal service) that the total distribution of that issue was 20,623 copies. The magazine was in its 17th year and the draft horse business was apparently in a lot better shape than Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. This was due to better management, a superior product, more imagination and a very strong demand for horse urine. The only place they had us beat was in their retirement program. There aren't many golden parachutes in the horse game.
The lead article was about Charley Pinney in England and his line of new horse machinery. It was the equivalent to a 21 gun salute to Pinney for having the guts to go ahead and start building new machinery designed for the horse. It consisted of a mower, a rake, a one-horse fertilizer spreader and a two-horse forecart. Now I'm sure we had plenty of talented improvisors (even had a Cumberland Contest in the DHJ for them) and that every Amish settlement had a talented blacksmith or two making adaptations. But, as I recall, no one had come forward with new machines built for horses and mules. So we had the Amish and Charlie Pinney.
Here is one of Charley's paragraphs from 25 years ago–"I would like to take this opportunity of emphasizing that this machinery is new and designed especially for horse work and has been used successfully in this country. It is not modified tractor equipment or backyard constructed machinery, but purposely made for animal work."
And to that we added–"It's about time someone did!" And since then a good many have–just take a look at pages 60-65 of the last issue (Autumn 2005), with photos and a list of manufacturers that covers a page in small type. Yes, miracles still happen. Especially when there are magicians like Charley Pinney, Wayne Wengerd, Glen Beidler, Elmer Lapp, David Kline and on and on.
Since this was a stallion issue we had a little trip through one of the premier breeding areas of the country to highlight the stallions. In 1980, we chose Arthur/Arcola, Illinois. Here was the drill. You would find a non-Amish horseman who knew everybody and everything about the horses in that area. Then you would enter into a long day's partnership with them, calling on as many stallion owners as you could find home. Twenty-five years ago it was Gary and Jack Hale riding shotgun, telling me to turn here, back up and whoa. Those one day stallion roundups were kind of fun and, I hope, useful to the breeders. I'll use some photos from that day–the oldest horse and one of the youngest.
The other big news was that the Draft Horse and Mule Association of America was officially back in business. It had happened at the Detroit Show–now East Lansing. The Articles of Incorporation had been issued by the Illinois Secretary of State and recorded in the files of Macon County as a Not for Profit Corporation. The nine people named to that first board were Berry Farrell, then head of the Budweiser Breeding Farm in St. Louis; John Kriz, Bethany, Connecticut; Mike Johnson, Florence, Oregon; Eli J.C. Yoder, Sugarcreek, Ohio; Ralph House, Arcadia, Indiana; Ted Bermingham, Cabot, Vermont; Howard Johnstone, Maple Hill, Kansas; Larry Reed, Bear Lake, Michigan, and myself. What a great bunch of unselfish men. As I recall the Budweiser attorney took care of all the legal details that went into the incorporation, filing, etc. The first annual meeting was scheduled for the Rhoads Center on the Ohio State Fairgrounds in February during the Eastern States Sale.
So what happened? Not as much as we had hoped for, but it sputtered on for a good many years and did start several very worthwhile things that are still with us. I'll list three–maybe some others too, who knows?
The "Teamster Schools" were one of the important programs it nurtured. They have played such a big role in the last twenty years that it is easy to forget how "experimental" they were in the early '80s.
The second legacy is "Horse Progress Days," and you can credit the Horse and Mule Association's rebirth as the only reason that institution exists today.
And thirdly, something that isn't as public or big as either teamster schools or Progress Days, is the every other year meetings of the secretaries and presidents of the various draft breed associations to compare notes and see what could be done better.
I'd say that is a pretty stout legacy from a movement that, superficially anyhow, sort of failed.
There are a half dozen or more little articles about folks with modest draft horse enterprises of one kind or other from all parts of the country. My major article was on the "Lost Tribe" of Shires from my own state of Iowa. The breed had been very prominent in the state early in the 20th century and in a modest way clear up to WW II. Then they disappeared, like frost on a May morning. There was no Shire legacy in Iowa when we started this magazine. A few guys with memories–but no horses.
Much of that issue was taken up by the results of shows and sales. As far as the sales are concerned I feel confident in saying this about all those fall 1980 sales–"They ran out of horses before they ran out of buyers" at sale after sale after sale. The 7th Annual Northern Indiana Colt Sale in Goshen had a $7,200 top on a 2-year-old filly–that was just $100 higher than the top at the big Topeka Sale a month or so later. The Waverly Midwest Horse Sale had five horses in the five figures. The South Saskatchewan Foal Sale at Alameda was a sizzler, much of the best of the series of five so far. Foals sold at a general average of $1,747, up $578 from the previous year. Dover, Ohio's Sixth Annual Buckeye Colt Sale was also a sizzler with a $15,000 top for a 2-year-old Belgian filly. The Lake Erie Colt Sale got off to its start with a good sale at Burton, Ohio, and the Hexom-Sweeney Sale at Waukon, Iowa, had 347 head with an $8,000 top.
As for the shows–with prices like that you can be sure that the shows prospered too. And there were new shows popping up–just like with the sales.
Now one of the major reasons for this euphoria at both the sales and shows owed more than a little to the huge expansion of the Pregnant Mare Urine business. In remembrance of those times we are going to reprint a different version of "The Night Before Christmas" that we ran in that issue. I can't even remember the poet's name. But he was, indeed, a gifted man (or woman).
And so was Professor Clement C. Moore, from England (like Charley Pinney) and I think we owe it to him to tell you how he happened to write that wonderful child's poem. And we will close this entire "Days Before" section with that.
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS–ON THE URINE LINE
by One who has been there.
(with apologies to Clement C. Moore–wherever you are)
Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the barn,
The horses were pawing
and I didn't give a darn.
Twas five in the evening
and high time to chore,
With a pouring down rain
and how the wind did roar.
I was all by myself,
not even one girl,
Nothing seemed to go right
and my mind was awhirl.
Nothing was in order
Twas almost too much to endure,
And to top it all off
We were past due to haul manure.
But I went and did the feeding
and also poured the juice,
And when I turned out my horses
They came in wet as a goose.
As I opened the door,
the rain came down in swirls,
But by this time I had
the help of two of the girls.
The wind was so strong
It took a man to hold the door,
And by the time we watered them all
I was glad there weren't any more.
The girls tied the horses
And hooked up the pails,
While I screwed on the lids
and looked under their tails.
I ought to explain that
whenever you check a bag
That's been hung too high,
you will be sure to gag.
But if that is what you find,
there is nothing else to do
But take the stinky thing off,
and run some clear water through.
Getting back to the subject
of choring at night,
Two of our lanterns weren't working
and the others made only a dim light.
Now in our little operation
the girls feed the grain and also the hay.
They need a little prodding,
almost every day.
I am a supervisor,
the one who pays the bills,
If they all come at once,
it gives you the chills.
Now my son comes along,
and he is the flunky.
He discards the equipment
when it gets too junky.
This year my son acts
like he knows what to do,
As he has his own mares,
and gets money too.
He has a new helper
which marked a change in his life.
He enjoys working with her,
as she is his wife.
We store this precious product
in a 50 gallon drum,
Where we pour in the liquid
and screen out the scum.
When you go to the house
so does the smell,
It's not very pleasant
but the product does sell.
When the barrels are full,
you decide on a date,
Then run down a trucker
and ship it out of state.
Now those jokers in Chicago
you never can trust.
They won't send a check
'til it's an absolute must.
They will bill you for this,
and bill you for that
'Til they practically own your shoes,
maybe even your coat and hat.
They will get you so upset,
'til a feller practically hollers
Then one day in the mail,
you'll find better'n $2,000.
After looking at the check
the smell disappears.
The kicking and fighting
you don't even hear.
So, all in all
I really won't complain
You can do it all winter
And come spring, still be sane.
And like any other business
you can have a reward,
For instance, how else
could you serve on a urine board.
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
The poem that inspired our urine line friend has an interesting origin, with an equine connection.
One dark afternoon shortly before the Christmas of 1822, the 7-year-old son of Professor Clement C. Moore was galloping his pony along a winding pathway when the pony lost his footing and went down, slamming the little boy to the ground in the process. When found, the boy lay in a pool of blood with his prostrate pony thrashing helplessly beside him. The pony's leg was broken so the animal was destroyed on the spot and the little boy carried to his home.
In a state of shock, suffering from a considerable loss of blood, and having just seen his beloved companion destroyed, the boy had lost all will to live. The doctor advised the professor that his son could die and that the boy desperately needed something to cheer him up. His physical injuries were quite bad enough, but his mental condition made a rally most unlikely.
Moore was a professor of Biblical Learning and Interpretation of Scripture at the Diocesan Seminary and not given to light hearted amusements. His style of writing was dignified, if not pompous. He had produced monumental works of scholarship and had, in fact, just finished an essay expressing dismay over the tendency of many of his young countrymen to devote their leisure time to frivolous amusements rather than serious learning.
Faced with this situation, Professor Moore went to his study and started writing, scratching out, rewriting. For two hours he labored over his work and then arose and hurried into his son's bedroom.
The boy looked up at him, his face streaked with tears. His father began to read in a gay and rollicking voice the poem he had written in such haste ...
"T'was the night before Christmas,
When all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse" ... and so on.
The poem was totally unlike anything Clement C. Moore had ever written before, or ever wrote afterwards. Now, almost 185 years later, children are still enchanted by it.
And as for the one child for whom it was written–he liked it too, and lived on for sixty Christmases after his father first recited it to him.