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My Dad has started writing down some stories from his life and I’m encouraging him. I’m editing and typing them up and will share one now.
Dad went to the Illinois State Shorthorn Sale to buy a bull, late 1950s.
He was bidding on the high bull when the auctioneer stopped the sale and said, “A few years ago, Shetland ponies brought more than what this bull is bringing.”
A few years earlier, Shetland ponies got real high. The smaller the pony, the higher the price.
Les Mathers, the man selling the bull, had even imported Shetland ponies from Scotland during the Shetland pony boom.
Inspired by the auctioneer, Les shouted, “a pony goes with this bull.”
Shetland ponies were the latest boom and bust fad as scarcity created demand with higher and higher prices being paid until finally supply catches up with demand and the price crashes.
Probably the best example of this was the Dutch Tulip Bulb craze of the 1600s where some of the most rare Tulip bulbs sold for more than six times the average person’s annual wage at the time.
Chinchillas, Pot-bellied pigs, and most recently Alpacas, would fit in this category as well.
Well, Dad bought the bull and when he got home told us we had a pony to pick up. Uncle Bill had his hired hand take my brother Dean and I to go get the pony.
We called him Blacky. He was wild. Blacky had never had a rope on him.
I trained Blacky to pull a cart with a homemade harness. I had my younger brother Elmer get in the cart and I led Blacky down the road east about an eighth of a mile.
Everything went really well until I turned Blacky around and we headed back home. I gave Elmer the reins and walked beside them. Blacky took off at a dead run home.
They made the first turn by the barn, but everything went bad on the second turn, upsetting Elmer and the cart. Despite that initial setback, Blacky got really good at pulling the cart.
Another thing Blacky liked was riding in the back of brother Dale’s old 47 Chevy. Take out the back seat and roll down the windows. The neighbors did a double take when we drove by.
We built a new garage and had a New Year’s Eve party. We played cards, danced some.
It was a mixed group, some neighbor friends, some from Streator. One Streator girl said she had never ridden a horse. I went and got Blacky and gave her a ride with me leading.
When the Streator friends were going home, (2 girls, 1 boy), they got hit head on by a drunk, driving without his lights on, on the wrong side of the road. Killed all three kids.
This was very upsetting to all of us. That Streator girl had her first and last pony ride on Blacky.
Thank you for sharing your father’s stories. Be sure to record some in his voice to have later.
Thanks, wsblue. My sister is in charge of that.