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Hunting Days of Yore

Purrfec' Granary: Part 2

Back in the 1950s, Deirdre and her friend Sarah, both just nineteen, came to America. The pair had left Britain, where post-war ration books were still in use for food, petrol, and clothing. Sarah was to train horses and riders for Jamie Kreuz at Bryn Mawr Farms outside Philadelphia. Deirdre was to work for the Insurance Company of North America in Philadelphia and help Sarah on weekends. What follows is Part II of their adventures with Perfec’ Granary. Click for Part I, or type the author’s name in the Search box for more of her stories.

granary.coatesIllustration by Rosemary Coates

Because I loved Granary, Sarah let me exercise her daily. At this time we were experiencing some freezing autumn days, so just going out at all required a gritty determination. One thing with Granary—she had the ability to actually run away whilst merely walking along the road. She would walk faster and faster and a tug on the reins would only slow things momentarily. To make matters worse, her 'walk-ability’ made it difficult to go out exercising with another horse, the sheer pace of keeping up with her exhausting the others. This 'power-walking' classed her as 'unstoppable' a lot of the time.

A Christmas Day Hunt on Old Cape Cod

Born in Shanghai, China in 1870, the author of this story crossed the Pacific Ocean with his sea-going father three times by the age of four. A goat was carried aboard ship to provide him with milk. Nason Hamlin was the first recording secretary of the Norfolk Hunt and a member of the field on Norfolk’s first day with hounds in 1896. He took to hunting and polo with exuberance, but his hand-written records are more often expressed in seaman’s jargon than in the language of foxhunting. Here’s Hamlin’s record (abridged) of a Christmas Day live hunt on Cape Cod (pp 27–29, "The Norfolk Hunt: One Hundred Years of Sport" by Norman Fine).

nason hamlin

Soapy Sponge, my new dappled-gray runaway, was yet to demonstrate his worth. On Christmas morn, 1899, just as the sun was peeping over the hill, Captain Samuel D. Parker, MFH was hunting the hounds at Eastham, away down on Cape Cod. It was a frosty, sharp morn and hounds were thrown in at the swamp lands fringing the ponds on the bay-side somewhere opposite Billingsgate Island. Shortly we heard a whimper from one hound, and almost immediately the pack took up the find and crashed away in the direction of the shore.

There were some skeptical suggestions that dead fish were the lure, but dead fish by themselves don’t travel, and when the entire pack kept running along the water’s edge in full cry in a northeast point, we all were convinced it was the real thing after all.

Thrilling Fox Hunt In a Distant County

The Pocahontas Times, Thursday, November 9, 1916: In some parts of West Virginia there is an effort to promote the hunting with hounds such as forms such a feature of country life in England. It consists of clothes, fine horses, and well bred hounds with a modicum of fox thrown in, or an anise seed bag. So far as we can learn, however, this country is too rugged for a complete success of the scheme, and chase too often leads where the fashionable riders cannot follow.

We heard of one thrilling fox hunt in a distant county. A kennel of about forty hounds had been acquired and there was a big opening meet. The pack was taken into the mountain and presently the hounds opened up, and rock glen and cavern paid them back. The expert Master of the fox hounds listened to the chase and led the glad field to a certain gap where the chase was to pass, and they arrived just in time to see the chase sweep into view with every hound giving the glad tongue, and driving before them as their quarry, a stray mule.

Posted 100 years later on November 10, 2016

The Cad, Part II

Martha wrote this story after studying the unpublished manuscript, The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcester Smith, during the course of her 2016 John H. Daniels Fellowship at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. (Part I was published last month.)

the cad.hws in cap.smallHarry Worcester Smith in hunting attire, circa 1910, from the Harry Worcester Smith Archive (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.Undeterred by his spills the spring and summer of 1900, and against everyone’s advice, Harry entered The Cad in the $10,000, three-and-a-half mile Champion Steeplechase at Morris Park (in what is now The Bronx, NY), Saturday, October 6, 1900. Ollie Ames met him at the clubhouse that Saturday morning.

“You are not going to run The Cad are you?” Harry recalls Ollie saying. “He’ll break your neck!” Next, Mr. B. F. Clyde of Philadelphia admonished him, “Now, look here, Harry Smith, I have seen you ride a great many times around New York, Philadelphia and Saratoga; I have the greatest admiration for you as a sportsman, in fact I am very fond of you. Now, Please don’t take your life in your hands and ride The Cad today against all those professionals.” It seems Mr. Clyde had his money on another horse; Harry thanked the man and walked away. “Then, about noon,” Harry writes, “a Western Union boy came up and handed me a telegram. It was from Mrs. Smith: ‘Don’t ride, get best professional possible. Signed, ‘Mildred.’”