By Robert Wilson
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Of Men and Horses
In honor of Father's Day, I have invited my good friend Bob Wilson to be a guest blogger. I know his beautiful story about his father will move you as much as it did me.
By Robert Wilson
By Robert Wilson
©Robert Wilson, 6/2015
My father was a man of principle. He didn’t smoke, or drink alcohol (although he could swear with the best). He also was unwavering in his belief that a man should be honest in all his dealings and keep his word, no matter what. My dad loved farming, and he was an excellent farmer. He also had a deep love for draft horses, keeping a matched team of Belgian geldings and a Percheron mare long after the area farmers had started using tractors exclusively. At my mother’s urging, dad bought a grocery store and a house in town, but he kept the farm and spent as much time there as possible. One day, when we were cleaning out a fence row next to the road, a realtor drove up. He told dad that he had a client looking for a farm to buy. Although he didn’t know dad, his prospect knew of the farm and he was interested in making an offer. The realtor asked dad how much he wanted for the farm. Dad told him that he wasn’t interested in selling.
The realtor was persistent. At least once a week he would catch dad at the grocery store or at the farm and badger him to set a price on the farm. One day, out of frustration, dad set a price that he thought was higher than anyone would pay for the farm. The realtor’s client accepted the price dad set. Dad felt that he had no choice but to sell him the farm. Mother was thrilled, but dad’s spirit never recovered.
Several years later, dad visited me in Indianapolis to go to the Indiana State Fair. In Indiana, we had county fairs that were bigger than the state fairs in many eastern states. We were going to the state fair to see the horses and dairy cattle and go to the Grand Circuit Harness Races. Dad didn’t bet on races, but he loved to see the trotters and pacers compete. That day, as a bonus, the Budweiser Clydesdales were going to appear in an eight-horse hitch.
Before we took our seats in the grandstand, we walked through the horse barns, and we noticed that the 10 Clydesdales (8 for the hitch plus 2 alternates) were housed under a separate tent. There was a sign with the horse’s name over each stall. Dad would read the name of a horse, say it out loud, then carefully examine the horse from every angle, say the name again, and then move on to the next horse and go through the same routine.
Before the first race, the eight-horse hitch came trotting down the main stretch in front of the stands. Dad named every horse and it’s position in the hitch, and then turned to me, beaming, and named the two horses that weren’t in the hitch. Dad was animated and happy the rest of the day. That was the first time I had seen my dad happy in years, and it was the last. Every time I read Name of Horses, by Donald Hall, I think of my father.
Note from Linda Goodman: To read Name of Horses, by Donald Hall, go to http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/name-of-horses/. I have never ridden a horse, but the poem made me love them. It brought tears to my eyes.
Robert (Bob) Wilson was an Indiana farm boy with an adventurious spirit. After high school, he sought travel and experiences. Bob toured the U.S. as a professional actor, he was an instructor and the first writer/director for the Army Air Defense School’s Educational TV Network. After the Army, he became a specialist in designing and implementing large scale IT systems, eventually retiring as the Principle Systems Analyst for Advanced Technology Systems. Now retired, Bob has returned to his first love, the theatre, working with community theatres in the Northern Neck of Virginia.Contact Robert at email@example.com