A RETROSPECTIVE ON LEARNING AND THE VALUE OF A GOOD BOOK
the most attractive of the May shows in the East. In 1976 Dr. Deubler received a well-deserved Fido from Gaines Research Center, as the Dog Woman of the Year.”
cafeteria, so the visitors would have food. To keep the traffic flowing, 90 officers and special police patrolled the roads and manned the gates. It was estimated that it cost around $70,000 to stage this ‘Show of Shows.’” I know that I wasn’t around in 1939, but that description sure can fill your imagination with what it must have been like. Among my cherished possessions is an actual Morris & Essex hat pin that was passed on to me by a dear friend, exhibitor, and judge from those days. So many other shows are reflected upon with, of course, the greatest—Westminster—among those mentioned. My Times with Dogs is a Howell Dog Book of Distinction and the back cover tells you a little more about what you can find inside: “For years Walter Fletcher has reported the results of hap- penings inside the show rings; now he lets loose with the often much more entertaining stories of what transpires outside them. The delightful stories of those on the other end of the leash—the people of the dog game There’s the famous terrier judge who always takes a shower with his straw hat on (to protect his curls); or the lady who hitched a ride on horseback to retrieve a runaway sled dog team; or the dog judge-airline pilot who was confronted with a dog on the runway during takeoff…and even in the process of averting disaster couldn’t help but note and mentally judge the dog’s conformation. MY TIME WITH DOGS literally covers the world—every- thing from why Scotland Yard uses only males to the story of how a new breed was ‘manufactured’ in Czechoslovakia in only 14 years. And though far-reaching in scope, it’s always close to my heart and funny bone. You’re in for a great time with MY TIMES WITH DOGS.” For me, there is nothing quite like holding an actual book in my hand and imagining the printed word in my mind. In our society today, it seems that most people get everything off the Internet and even read their books on an iPad or Kindle. Magazines and newspapers are fast becoming extinct. To many of us senior citizens, it is one of the great travesties of technology. Walter Fletcher was not the only dog columnist of his time, but he was the most prominent with the highest circulation of the day. Max Riddle wrote for the old Cleveland Press-Scimitar as well as being an author of numerous breed books himself. Louise Pugh was a longtime columnist at the Dayton Daily News and would also write about the wins of many local exhibitors in the area. One of the things I always find interesting when reading old books and periodicals is that although our world has changed a great deal through modern technology and innovation, the sport of conformation dog shows has remained relatively constant. The same issues discussed 100 years ago are still being debated today; the judges, the high costs related to the sport, prejudices, accusa- tions of unethical behavior, and so many other things that are still hot topics today. The biggest difference [today] is with the technology that allows for instant results—and, often, comments about the judg- ing of the day. I can’t imagine how refreshing it would be to have another Walter Fletcher using his special talent for prose to give me a harmless expression of the day’s events. If you found this retrospective book report fascinating, I hope you can find a copy of the book to read. I believe you will enjoy a refreshing and enjoyable look at our sport, and maybe even come to enjoy the sport even more.
Another entry written in 1979 refers to a man still very well- known in our sport today:
“Then there’s the judge I always called a young man in a hurry. He’s Edd Biven of Fort Worth and he’s on the staff of the dean of students at Texas Christian University. When I retired, Biven was 35 years old but he looked much younger. At the time he already had accomplished more than fanciers much older. He had bred champions, handled a best-in-show dog, been president of a major kennel club and judged at such key fixtures as Westminster, International and Beverly Hills. But he still said to me, “I know very little in comparison to the old timers and there’s a great deal for me to learn. The sport has been so good to me, I feel I owe it much. I’m particularly concerned about the youngsters. I try to encourage them not only to show but to work up breeding programs.” ‘People started me in the sport when I was a kid.’ He said. ‘They taught me not only the mechanics but also the ethics. You must give as well as take, they stressed.’ So involved is Biven in the sport that before he took the post at TCU he had to be assured he would be permitted to take a number of week- ends away from the university so that he could judge.” These are just two examples of Fletcher’s background sketches of the judges in 1979. There are so many more included in the text. Here are just a few mentioned in the book: Percy Roberts, Alva Rosenburg, Billy Kendrick, Michele Billings, Lina Basquette, Dr. Tom Davies, Lang Skarda, and Geraldine Dodge. He also intro- duces readers to some of the husband and wife judges of the day such as the Clarks, the Stevensons, the Marvins, and the Feltons, just to mention a few. The chapters are entertaining and full of background information. There are so many informative and vivid illustrations of the shows and activities through the eyes of the writer. From a section about various popular shows, here is an excerpt about Morris and Essex that puts you right there while it is happening: “Mention Morris and Essex to an old timer and it will bring a gleam to his eye. Immediately, he will regale you with stories about the most lavish dog shows ever held in America and about Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, the mistress of Giralda Farms in Madison, N.J., where the extrava- ganzas were held. Once a year, she threw open the gates of the estate and crowds of up to 50,000 flocked to the polo field, on whose velvety-green turf the dogs vied for ribbons. Barnum and Bai- ley, Ringling Bros. Circus billed itself as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” but it was dwarfed by the 1939 M&E which drew 4,456 dogs, still the greatest entry in the history of shows in this country at this writing. Whereas the circus in 1939 used 70,000 square feet of canvas for its tenting, the “Greatest Dog Show” had 160,000 It was a kaleidoscope of color, with a bright umbrella over each judge’s table in the 57 rings. Flying from the six huge group tents were pennants, whipped by the breeze. There was no silver shortage when it came to the trophy table, for 383 pieces of sterling were offered outright. Mrs. Dodge arranged with a famous caterer to provide 4,600 luncheons for the exhibitors, judges and other officials. Then there was a huge
96 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION
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