Thursday, May 3, 2012

IGWRT's Kerry's Wednesday Challenge - On the Road "Harnessed Speed"

Historical Racetracks and Harness Horses HERE
Harnessed Speed

We'd often see
a cloud of dust
rise and linger
upon the horizon,
knew father's fine pacer
was sweeping
the winding road
back towards our farm.
He'd arrive
eyes a-twinkle,
hair askance,
us eagerly awaiting
the buggy switch.
Head back into town
proudly, sedately steer
the Pierce Arrow
down Main Street;
no matter our urging
for speed. We knew
Race Street paralleled,
but the early morning's action
wasn't for young ladies.

by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, July 17, 2012

Here is my great grandfather (my grandmother back row, left) with his four girls in perhaps ... a Pierce Arrow?

Most cities and towns have a "Main Street", but back in the day, many had a "Race Street" and/or "Trotter's Alley" as well.

This poem is loosely based upon my Grandfather, Herbert Hutchins.  (How I wish I had a photo of him with his fine horses!  I do have a few of  him with his plow horses, but not his pacers).  My grandmother said he loved his horses and was one of the first to purchase a car.

I do not know what kind of horse he had, and whether he had a pacer or a trotter.  If he owned a Standardbred, here is a little history on them:  The name originated because the early trotters (pacers would not come into favor until much later) were required to reach a certain standard for the mile distance in order to be registered as part of the new breed.  The mile is still the standard distance covered in nearly every harness race.

The first Standardbred races were contested along long roads, with men challenging their friends to     see who had the swifter steed.  Often the streets of major cities were cleared and races conducted.  That's why so many American cities have a "Race Street".

If you are interested, HERE is a link with some nice old photos of historical racetracks and harness horses.

This post is linked with and a response to  "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads "Kerry's Wednesday Challenge - On the Road"


Kerry O'Connor said...

This is a superb slice of history - the form created pace to match the horse's speed. I love the personal touch this story has - so meaningful and nostalgic.

Daydreamertoo said...

Loved it, and the pics are priceless treasures of your family history.
Yes, I'm still watching the horses. Haven't been today but was there yesterday. Rosie still hadn't had hers when I looked. Watching the baby and his mom is lovely. Always makes me smile.

Hannah said...
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Hannah said...

This really put me right into the moment of these times. Very enjoyable, thank you!!

De said...

Love your bringing history into it, putting us in the character's seat. Well done. :)

Daydreamertoo said...

I'm watching WRosieQ now. I wish she'd hurry up and have the baby. Can't wait to see it and, I bet now I'll miss its
The Freisian mom and baby were outside when I checked earlier.

Fireblossom said...

I've always wondered what it would feel like to ride in a sulky. But, you know, I'm much too proper to be seen doing so, and besides, I'd have to wear bloomers, and they're a scandal!

Lolamouse said...

What a great slice of history! The photos were a real treat too!

Heaven said...

I enjoy looking at your old photographs ~ Thanks for sharing a bit of your history ~

Anonymous said...

I like this very much, particularly the ending.

(You misspelled "road" in the title, FYI.)

Margaret said...

Fireblossom - bloomers :) One thing I thought was funny ... the photos of the racetracks, the stands, the racetrack grounds... not ONE female. CrAzY times.

Thanks Rosemarymint - I corrected it.

Susie Clevenger said...

Wonderful images and the history. Great stuf!!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

"Art Happens 365" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

izzy said...

I love the race street ! of course there has always been that sense in certain towns -that one of the side streets is the most happening place
you can just feel it( and if you get to hang around you know it!)
Wind in your hair is great! however
those racing carts are not very comfy- thanks for a great post!

Ginnie said...

Ohhhhhh. Two years ago I saw a sulky racing here in the Netherlands, Margaret. I will never forget it:

Mary Mansfield said...

At the fair in my hometown every summer, they would hold sulkey races, so interesting to watch. After watching them speed around the track for years, I just can't imagine traveling at such a slow pace. I guess back then the men just did not understand that girls can have a need for speed too. Very nicely done, Margaret!

Mary said...

I loved this poem and the photograph. Those early automobile days so exciting. Lucky was the family that could afford one!