Which decade of the century just ended produced the strongest and most colorful cadre of handlers? As a student of field-trial history, I sometimes muse on this question. My vote goes to the Boys of the Sixties, the first decade I was fully aware of the game.
A look at the entries in the 1965 National Championship provides a convenient roll of the major players. That was the year the stake was called off after four braces for lack of adequate birds, creating a firestorm in the fraternity.
Who were the Boys of the Road in the ‘60’s? In the order
they were drawn for the ’65 National:
Herman Smith, the Little Fox. His entries that year were Duces Wild for Roger M. Kyes, the G. M. exec and perennial patron, and Satilla Virginia Lady, who would come back to win it for Herman and Dr. F. M. Phillippi.
John S. Gates, who had won it (and the first Purina Dog of the Year Award) in 1964 with War Storm was back with Royal Heir for J. D. Spears; and Safari for S. H. Vredenburgh, which would win it in 1966 for John’s son John Rex to begin the winningest career in field-trial history after John had been stricken by cancer: and Vendetta for Harold S. Sharp.
Fred Arant, Jr. founder of the Rebel line, brought Homerun Johnny for Claudia L. Phelps; Rambling Rebel Dan for W. S. “Steve” Richardson; and Rambling Nellie for C. R. Scarborough.
W. F. “Bill” Rayl brought Highway Man for George Geoghegan.
Roy D. Jines brought Moss Allegheny Buck for Vernon Moss.
Howard Kirk brought Mistletoe Express for Clyde T. Wilson.
G. W. “Stub” Poynor brought Checkmate Swaps for W. E. Martindale, and Warhoop Judy’s Suzette for H. L. Phares.
Ed Harrison brought California’s Sammy and Mills Star for G. Ward and Bonita Szody.
Marshall Loftin brought Rudy’s Wonsover for Rudy Schulze, Jr.
Clyde Morton brought Canon for Jimmie Hinton.
David Grubb brought Airflight for H. S. Warrington.
Jack Harper brought John Oliver for John Dale, Jr.; Kenilworth Duke for J. E. Donnell ; and Home Again Hattie for Mary C. Oliver and Bob Guinn.
Winfred Campbell brought Jorwick’s Dixiecrat for G. G. Jordan.
Hoyle Eaton brought Riggins White Knight for R. W. Riggins and Red Water Rex for E. B. Alexander, Jr., and W. T. Pruitt.
Fred Bevan, Jr., brought Davant Jane for Mrs. E. M. Berol and Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Franks.
Phil A. Brousseau brought Rig A Jig for Mrs. A. L. Lippitt and The Peregrine for J. W. Davis.
Nathan Cottrell brought Misty Morn for Joe H. Hurdle.
Paul Walker brought Delivery Boy’s Jake for Dr. T. L. Moose and Dr. S. T. Bickley; Fast Joe Delivery for Estell J. Fair; Vaga for Dr. W. H. McCall; and Hurricane for John Sullivan.
Bob Lamb brought The Untouchable for P. J. Blanchard.
Fred E. Bevan brought Mike’s Home Again for Dr. A. W. Simpson, Jr.
V. E. Humphreys brought Commander’s Big Coon for Carl E. Duffield, Jr.
Leon Covington brought Rampaging for B. McCall.
These handlers of the 1960s were a strong, competitive bunch who produced outstanding winners that have contributed strongly to today’s bloodlines. Theirs was a time of few but pre-inflated dollars, a time when most every saddlebag held a bottle of whiskey, a time when sagacious black scouts still traveled with the handlers, a time before the buddy system. A time, too, before big horse trailers, when handlers hauled their horses and dogs in big trucks, and owners hauled theirs in vans. It was the dawn of the shooting-dog era, but all-age competition was still dominant. It was a time when those of us still around were still young.
How many of these men and dogs are in the Hall of Fame? How many are not but should be? That’s the quiz for this week.